What a difference eight months makes. At our New Video Frontiers last October, most people left with the sense that they had witnessed an uneasy clash between the the TV industry and the web natives. However, there was a very different mood in the air at New TV Frontiers in London earlier in the week. Whether it was ITV, Google, Twitter or Videology, we heard time and time again that digital and TV are no longer two industries, but one. That their relationship is more symbiotic and complementary than competitive. And that the Internet belongs to the TV industry as much as it does to anyone else.
Getting to this point hasn’t been easy. While the TV industry has been successfully incorporating the Internet into its offering for years now, the industry’s representatives have tended to emphasise — in public at least — the differences rather than the similarities between TV and the web.
We’re often told that TV is special, TV is different, and that TV wields a power that other screens don’t. While those views are backed up by TV’s huge audiences, linear TV’s resilience, and the occasional piece of independent research, it seems most people in the TV world have woken up to the fact that the current model is far from future-proof and that data and targeting strategies should be valued almost as much as content creation and acquisition.
That said, it still seems that most of the companies hoping to dominate the future of TV are still showing up to the party half-dressed. If you’re a broadcaster and have quality content, the chances are your data strategy — assuming you have one — is based around registration data, viewing habits and perhaps some third party sources. Sure, you’ve come along way, but there won’t be any prizes for ‘best effort’ once the ecommerce giants start tapping up your advertisers. Then, if you’re a tech company or a retailer swimming in data, the chances are that most of your content — assuming you have some — is either composed of user-generated content or TV’s leftovers, perhaps with a few pieces of original content thrown into the mix in an attempt to polish the TV turd.
There’s a huge opportunity for the companies who strike out and seize control of the no man’s land that currently lies between TV and tech. To occupy that territory, you’re going to need quality content, combined with the best in technology and data. But many unanswered questions still remain:
– How important will it be to have your own TV platform in this new world?
– Will companies without proprietary data form effective partnerships with those that do?
– Should the TV operators/networks build, borrow or buy their own ad technology?
– As money continues to be poured into creating quality content and a variety of new OTT and TV platforms, are we going to see even more audience fragmentation than we’re seeing today?
– Can you be all things to all people in the TV advertising market, selling data, media and ad technology?
While there are still no ‘one size fits all’ answers to any of the questions above, it’s going to be fascinating watching how all this pans out over the next five to ten years. There will be some spectacular successes and some equally spectacular failures. The only thing that is clear is that — regardless which side of the media fence you find yourself sitting on — there’s no better time to be involved in our industry.