Future of TV Advertising

Yesterday I spoke at Marketing Week’s TV Advertising conference in London. BBC, ITV, MTV, UKTV and Thinkbox were there, alongside Fallon, Qmedia, RSA, Royal Mail, Co-operative, Premier Foods, Nike & Boots.

You can take a look at my presentation but it’s loads of pictures without many words so dunno how much sense it’ll make:

What struck me with a sledge hammer over the head, was the fact my presentation was deemed ‘brave’, ‘ruffling a few feathers’ etc. To be honest, I’d toned it down. Quite a lot. I talked about the various revolutionary stages in communications (printing press, phone, TV and radio… then internet); and how the internet is a vehicle for all other media, so they’re all shifting over to the web (the cloud) and sitting alongside one-another in a way that’s enabling people to listen to stuff, watch stuff, make stuff, then gather around and talk about it.

Nothing particularly new or contentious about that.

But even on that point there seemed to be a level of denial, as apparently ‘broadcast will be around forever’ and there was mention of ‘internet-centricity’. Hilarious!

I showed some breathtaking figures… such as the 8.9 billion videos watched online in the US last month… and the fact it would take the big three US networks, working together, 4,500 years to create and air original content that matched the volume of YouTube (thanks Michael Rosenblum for great insights). Maybe I did get a little bit contentious with the mention of scribes – the fact they weren’t considered slow when they were the only means of producing books.

BUT… what perhaps did ruffle feathers was that I dared mentioned the astounding levels of ad avoidance; and the fact younger folk are sacrificing TV time in favour of social media (which was fiercely denied – as ‘WE HAVE PROOF PEOPLE ARE WATCHING MORE TV THAN EVER!!’). Okay. Whatever.

Anyway, stepping back from stats, pointless arguments about whether the internet is everything or not (duh) etc etc… isn’t it truly bizarre that you could hold a conference on ‘the future of TV advertising’, that solely consists of broadcasters and related companies bigging themselves up, talking about how fabulous everything is and congratulating one-another on their success ??? !!!! ?? !

It wasn’t brave of me to stand up and mention the obvious.

If that’s considered courageous, or maverick, or ‘out there’ in any way, what the bloody hell is industry coming to? Not only that, but where is it going to go?

I talked about bureaucracy and hierarchy Vs fluidity (or starfish / spider analogy you might be familiar with). My point was really that brands, agencies and broadcasters should open their doors to the people. That they should view the people of the world as their ultimate creative resource, production resource and distribution mechanism. That half of all the crap organisations do is solely as a result of lack of trust (imagine the expenditure); and we can solve the bulk of our problems through open collaboration.

It’s just common sense.

It isn’t that controversial.

If it is, how dull, backward and old hat is this game? How much cash are they prepared to chuck down a black hole, reinforcing the legacy and exhibiting what are very clearly the Kubler-Ross stages of Denial, Anger, Bargaining and Acceptance. I thought we were nearing the bargaining stage at the very least, but yesterday I saw anger from 2 or 3 key people. Obvious where their pay cheques come from – and that they might just manage to retire and die before having to change their psychological outlook.

Most of the crowd loved a shake-up. Or at least more people found me to say well done, rather than to berate my crazy ways. They welcomed some home truths. They wanted debate and new learning and fresh thinking.

What are people so afraid to loose, that it’s virtually impossible to stick your neck out and say what’s blatantly obvious to anyone who has bothered to understand what’s going on, without seeming like some sort of zealot?

I’m finding this all very weird.

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