My biggest issue at the moment is that eHarmony advertises for single people and there is literally no way I can target TV ads to someone who is single. The waste is a massive issue.
As TV is increasingly delivered through the BT Vision box, Virgin Media’s TiVo service, or Sky, we are now entering a world where you ought to be able to bid on TV spots. We know exactly what the viewers are tuning into, so the challenge now will be understanding which part of the market we are reaching with our message.
European broadcaster RTL actually does consumer segmentation by siphoning off the Austrian part of its German-Austrian television network. People will see the same programmes but the ads are different, so it is possible. I am sure you could go further than segmenting the German and the Austrian markets. But what is frustrating is that the TV channels are not moving fast enough to get us there.
For example, Ford might currently choose one model out of a range to advertise. In the future, it might want to run a string of 11 different ads ranging from the Ka for single people up to the C-Max for families. In the same ad break, they fire off different spots to different people. That would make it interesting, but it is a challenge for advertising agencies because the client won’t pay twice the production money. Therefore, we will need a lot more content, a lot more ads and a much more flexible approach from the agency side.
I think what the TV channels will have to do is focus branding much more on the content rather than the channel. I can see them almost becoming production houses. Appointment TV [where people watch TV as it is scheduled, rather than on a catch-up service] will stay around for some time, but high-quality content will have to compete with what is available online.