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Television and The Internet

March 30, 2009

There is a lot of talk on the internet about how to monetize each medium. Most of the articles published talk about the falling revenue from advertising online due to the recession. The internet is a scary place for advertising dollars. You throw money at it and then magically people are supposed to see your ad and remember your brand. You hope and pray that they do and the tools that you have to measure the engagement are crude at best.

What is an impression worth on the internet? I can say that my advertisement was shown on 5 million pages on Facebook, but if my website only shows ten thousands clickthroughs was the ad really worth it? It is hard to say, it depends on both your company and what you wanted to get out of the Facebook advertisement.

I consider myself to be in a minority as I do not currently own a TV, and there are shows that I like, but that I am able to watch them in some form or another online. When I view a video online I am usually subjected to one advertiser, and they have, up to this point, been exclusively national brands. Whatever ad I am being forced to watch is usually able to make a stronger impression than if I had regularly been watching TV because it doesn’t have to compete with 4-5 other commercials. In that sense I would say that the ad should cost more per view. This is not the case online advertising costs less than traditional marketing.

The thing about the internet that excites me is that it is not tied to a clock and it does not need to be. Currently TV is tied to a schedule and if you missed a show then you were out of luck, but because the cost of storing content online is so low a show can be immediately placed there for consumption whenever it is convenient for you. This is a problem because traditionally a show was able to be profitible from syndication years after its original run was over and now this has effectively been taken away.

The thing that excites me about content delivery online is that if done correctly an advertiser can show their ad to fewer people and with greater efficacy. As we move closer to having online identities that are able to travel across the web we will have a permanent record that will create more direct advertising. For many this is a worst case scenario, but is it? What if the only ads you saw where the ones that were relevant to your life? I am in my twenties and a male. I am constantly being shown ads for feminine products and for the jitterbug cellphone designed for the elderly who want a cellphone but don’t want a cell phone. Like most I tune out when this type of ad turns on, but what if my overall advertising experience could be improved by only showing me relevant content. This would require incredible amounts of information and analysis of that information, but I think that day is coming.

I understand that there is a symbiotic relationship between entertainment and advertisers. The entertainers want to entertain and to really do it proper they need some money, and advertisers represent some really great products and need people to know about them. We can’t know about them unless we are told. Yes, a content provider could provide a subscription service to cut the advertiser out, but I for one am fine with subsidizing my entertainment in this manner.

The point of all of this, is that I feel like the internet can provide more effective advertising and that the current providers of quality content are wary of changing their business model before they have to. For now the television industry can continue as it has, but it could find itself in the same position as the music industry very soon. Why not embrace experimentation and find a way to make more money on the internet off your content than you could on traditional broadcast methods?

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