Commercial TV’s decline is faster than we thought, but no one knows what’s next
There is a growing sense that reaching giant audiences to build brands in the decade ahead is going to be more difficult.
I need to be clear from the very first sentence that this is not another attempt to bolster the enduring primacy of TV advertising.
Nor is it another ill founded prediction of the approaching apocalypse of TV viewing either. You’ve almost certainly seen and read too much of both in the past. The dude who declaims TV at a conference because he – and the rest of the population, he assumes – no longer owns a television. The digital diva who extrapolated the data in 2004 and predicted the world would be consuming 112% of their video content via smartphone by 2010. The marketing ‘thought leader’ who inserted a picture of a 1950s TV set into his LinkedIn article about the end of advertising/branding/television/marketing as we know it, and pressed submit.
But move beyond the hacks, and the digital agencies with a mouse to grind, and smell the air. It’s a new decade. There is an unmistakable whiff of smoke. An occasional crackle of static electricity. Change approaches.
Linear TV advertising will rumble on for a good few more years in its iconoclastic, vaunted position as the medium around which most big brands are built and reinforced. But ultimately, finally, there is major media disruption ahead.
The best place to look for evidence of its proximity is in the work of Ebiquity. Sandwiched between the overstated futurology of digital mavens and the smooth empirical defensiveness of traditional TV companies, Ebiquity repeatedly and correctly suggested that TV remained the superior advertising medium.
Its 2019 publication ‘TV at the Tipping Point’ made headlines not just because Ebiquity suggested that TV’s seemingly eternal superiority was beginning to fade, but because it came from a company that had been so bullish, and so on the money, about TV’s positive prospects in the past.
In a new report, ‘Mind the Gap’, Ebiquity has another year of data to add to its initial modelling. Its researchers aren’t just certain that TV is approaching a tipping point, they now admit they underestimated it last year.