Ah television, it’s more American than eating apple pie at a baseball game. For decades, American families have crowded around the television to catch their favorite programs, enjoy TV dinners and fight over the remote. One could even argue that the most American of sporting events, the Super Bowl, is only as good as its commercials. Then the Internet came along and families shifted their focus to their personal computers, smart phones and tablets. The world is global, and the world is mobile, so why are the largest Internet tech giants clambering to cater to TV?
The answer can be found in two words: bigger screens. Modern televisions are basically big screen computers, which is why Apple fit so easily into the market. Amazon is the latest company to show interest in the TV industry. They’re not looking to create actual Amazon TVs, but they do want to start making boxes that hook up to your television and stream from their library. They want to start competing with Roku, Apple and Xbox, according to Bloomberg Businessweek.
Initially, this is a great idea. People love on-demand television, why not jump into the game that gives viewers the ability to watch whatever shows they want, whenever they want? The problem lies in Amazon’s library. Bloomberg generously described it as “expanding” which would be a step in the right direction given their limited offerings. For users to go out and buy an actual box, Amazon would have to have more options than Netflix, Hulu and any bootleg site online.
Netflix has also noticed the viewing behavior of its users and made investments accordingly. People like watching shows on their own time – without ads. Viewers don’t want to wait a week and cancel their Thursday night plans to watch a sit com, especially when they can watch it online the next day. So they started creating their own series which they launch all at once. There’s no time for users to watch an episode and get disinterested in the course of a week, if they want to watch fours straight episodes of House of Cards, they will, and they’ll love every commercial-free minute of it.
Other websites like Hulu, ABC, NBC etc. that stream shows have noticed the gradual movement to online viewership and have increased the number of ads that users have to sit through. What used to be a glorious one to two ads has become a cumbersome five, most are the same two to three ads that just get played on repeat. Amazon may not have the timeliness that these websites do, but they would make up for it with a lack of ads.
So where do marketers stand? Should they just give up on TV advertising? Traditional television advertising is limited, there are very few ways to gauge ROI. Advertising on video streaming sites gives brands the power to make their commercials more interactive and has better analytics, but they’re usually only a luxury national brands can afford. Plus, most television calls to action direct viewers to websites and social media pages anyway.
The only thing more American than television is commercial breaks. The more tech giants try to develop TVs and TV accessories, the less patience Americans have for ads. Where do you think the future of TV lies? Will it be entirely online? And do you think TV ads are still worth the marketing bucks?