TV is dead …

Read this on The Ad Contrarion and thought I’d share –

From the post: In “the largest observational look at media usage ever conducted” researchers at Ball State University’s Center for Media Design, found the following:

  • 99% of video viewing was done on a television in the past year.
  • Less than 5% of TV viewing was DVR (TiVo) playback.
  • YouTube, Hulu, iPhone and all other web and cellphone media combined accounted for less than 1% of video viewing

I love talk that traditional media is dead. I love hearing people go on about it. It’s amusing. It’s even more amusing when traditional media start believing it. I work in a media agency so I hear these sorts of things almost daily.

Generally the story of traditional media being dead is fueled/funded by
– digital publishers
– digital consultants
– digital research companies (see a pattern here)
– ad/media agencies with digital departments (ie a digital P&L)
– ad industry magazines that need to make their readers feel everything is changing so they continue to read them

Look at the data and it’s generally not the case at all. Trouble is – not enough people really look at the data. Another problem  – so much of the data used to fuel the us versus them argument is funded by those with a commercial interest in spruiking the data.

If you believed the hype right now you’d probably think that
– people are turning off the TV
– facebook/twitter/myspace are dominanted by people talking about brands and not normal stuff like music, friends, politics, inane in jokes etc
– print media is dead, worthless, useless and if it’s not dead yet it should be
– consumers – especially those under 25 – have changed so much and are so much more sophisticated than those previously that brands are effectively powerless to stop them making/breaking their brand. (the only way they can take back the power is giving money to ad agencies or social media agencies who can navigate them through the bumpy waters that is this new social media world)

This article in the NY Times reports more on the research Ad Contrarion refers to –

I like this bit.

“Among younger audiences, there are some leading indicators that the Web is affecting media usage. The data shows that 18-to-24-year-olds — generally college students and new entrants into the work force — watch the smallest amount of live TV of any age group (three and a half hours a day), spend the most time text messaging (29 minutes a day) and watch the most online video (5.5 minutes a day).”

Ok. The 18-24’s … you know, the demographic throwing away their TVs and doing things differently to everyone else … are watching a shitload of TV. They are watching over 21o minutes of TV a day and 5.5 mins of online video. TV must be trembling at these stats.

Another excerpt: ” While the study’s findings mostly align with the ratings that Nielsen and other companies report on a daily and monthly basis, the researchers did find that people remembered watching less TV than they actually did. When subjects in the study were asked to recall their behaviors, “people underestimated the amount of time they spent with TV by a substantial amount,” about 25 percent on average, Mr. Wakshlag said. “The same people tended to overestimate their use of other media.”

So anyway, I don’t believe that TV or any other form of media is dead. I think newspapers are in trouble but that is a side effect of a business issue – the issue of classified revenues dwindling.

What is dead – in my opinion – is smart thought around how digital can work alongside other media, in particular TV. There is strong evidence to suggest that TV is still strong in terms of volume but the digital industry continues to want to bang heads with the TV industry when it should be working with it. People are watching more TV in AU now than they were in 2001. If you look at a site like YouTube – users spend on average less than an hour on it per month. Less than an hour!!

How can we use web to make TV campaigns work better and vice versa? How do we use the web to further engage audiences we impact on TV? How do we use time targeting to deliver multiple messages across multiple channels that tap into the strength of each? And how do we measure it all?

And how can we bring digital measurement/analytics/targeting to subscription TV and tools like Foxtel IQ?

Don’t get me wrong … I love digital meda and what it is capable of. It’s just that I feel the most interesting challenge is working with other media to create the best media result for both user and advertiser.

That’s what is interesting. I didn’t get into media to scare clients into using digital channels at the expense of others so I could reach a revenue target.


3 responses to “TV is dead …

  1. You are literally one in a million Ben. An online guy who actually understands/appreciates/promotes other media. Even TV!

    In the grand battle of media supremacy, the digital revolution has been staged and online has spangling new chair at the table. It’s now time for all media to stop guarding their territory, sit back down and work together again. Because of digital, all media will be stronger, more effective and deliver better results for clients.

    The future is bright.

  2. iamcontrarian


    The largest study???? Oh my sweet lord.

    350 people.

    I would assume that in the true spirit reserved only for our North American colleagues, 350 Americans is good enough to talk about a universal study.

    350 people is enough to represent 6billion. No really it is! Say it really really really fast 20 times and then get someone to ask you if it is enough.

    I love that sort of statement, it is right up there with “is too” or my personal favourite “is not”.


    Oh and it was $3.5 million so $10,000 a head

  3. iamcontrarian isn’t just being contrary, 350 people is a statistically insignificant subject population, even for Australia. The New York Times can be so sensationalist. But at least you can’t accuse them of a vested interest in the broadcast industry, they sold their Broadcast Media Group in 2007.

    However, there must be some truth to the study, at least here in Australia. I run a production company working in the broadcast and online space. Based on their own research, most of my clients prefer the more predictable ROI of broadcast advertising rather than the wildly unpredictable response and ROI of online video. Hard to disagree with that.

    I’d love more online video projects and I can’t wait to try another viral, but I’m careful to point out to even the most digitally enthusiastic clients that for every “Still Free” or “Cadbury Gorilla” viral, there are at least a 100 wannabe viral campaigns that don’t find their audience. Something like 15% of TVCs are ROI positive in Australia. I’ve not seen any data, but that’s gotta beat virals…

    Regarding Ben’s TVC/online cross platform concept, we’re working on that with a fashion retail client called Barkins. Keep you posted when its getting momentum and showing results.

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