A little over 2 years ago, I wrote a post about the future of television advertising. While I have always been bullish about broadband video advertising, I have never believed that the $60b television advertising industry would disappear overnight. In fact, before the Internet dominates all advertising why couldn't one bring the tools of the web to the television world making TV advertising more effective, targetable, and measurable - in effect changing it from a mass media to a more targeted dynamic one. That is in effect what one of our portfolio companies, Visible World, has been working on during the last few years. Visible World enables every ad to be as dynamic and diverse as the market and audience it captures as new data resources, analytics, tools, and platforms transform marketing. With its simple-to-use tools, advertisers create, monitor, and deliver intelligent video spots that are edited automatically anywhere and any time they run to reflect the time, location, and context in which they appear. All while delivering traditional reach within any media plan. Think of what the web looked like in a static world versus today's dynamically driven one where web pages are now assembled on the fly based on who you are and what you like. Visible World is bringing the power of dynamic customization to television advertising. It is especially nice when someone like Jonah Bloom, Executive Editor of Ad Age and a guy who really gets it, recognizes the power of our platform as evidenced by his AdAge column the other day.
Modifying TV spots
In an hour of omnipotence I've rebuilt and redistributed ads for some of the biggest companies in the country. Borrowing their existing creative I've modified a dozen commercials, turning each execution into hundreds of 30-second spots, each more targeted and relevant than the original. I'm confident that my work -- if it were affecting the real world and not just Visible World's demo system -- would've multiplied the ROI on these ads by a geometric factor that would establish me as a genius within my organization, or at least ward off shareholder griping for another quarter....
Already six major marketers are using Visible World to manage and modify their ads in real-time. Another 12 are having dashboards built for them right now. This is a technology at a tipping point, and if you're not prepared to take my word for it, maybe you can persuade the folks at Visible World to give you a turn as ruler of the ad world. It's pretty heady stuff.
In short, I don't believe that television advertising will go away but that it must be reinvented quickly and that advertisers must embrace rather than fear new technology. And as we move into the future, rather than focus on broadband vs. television (digital vs. analog), I also see a world where both sides can work with each other to effectively deliver better results for advertisers. As video becomes increasingly more fragmented and viewed on various systems and devices (television, VOD, broadband, gaming systems, cable, mobile, iPods), it will be imperative for advertisers to have an easy way to manage and optimize their video advertising campaigns wherever the audience is. In addition, the more progressive advertisers will try to figure out how to marry online ad optimization with the offline world. For example, let's say you are an advertiser and your online ad for a specific mortgage product for ARMs is getting more clicks in a certain geography versus one for fixed rate mortgages. Using that data from the Internet, wouldn't it be great if you could change your television commercial so that the next airing has an updated offer for ARMs instead of for fixed rates? That is just one example of how Visible World can bring the two worlds closer together, using data from your Internet campaigns to enhance and optimize your media spend on television. And of course, without the Visible World technology, it would be hard to do this in a near real-time, automated, and cost-effective manner. There are so many more ways that Visible World can make a television commercial more relevant and effective. As Jonah goes on to say:
These are fairly obvious ways of using the technology, but as smart creatives start to get comfortable with this tool, we're going to see way-more-ingenious applications. The ads could even become responsive to the programming. Think the Geico gecko opening his sales patter by commenting on the score in the game, perhaps -- sort of entertainment being integrated into the ads, rather than the other way 'round.
Advertisers are starting to get it so keep an eye out for this idea of "advertising responsive to programming" during the next couple of weeks.