"Personalized" is one of the most (over-) used words in the digital realm. The seamless, continuous, consistent experience of one given user.
I can use Evernote and iCloud, consume Spotify and Canal+ (French pay TV) content, shop on Amazon, across all my devices, and always find myself at home, in a personalized environment, my environment.
Then I turn my TV on and get exactly the same content and ads as millions of persons.
I believe this is going to change, starting with ads. Not overnight - the TV industry is mature and well structured. But let me put two recent news into context.
News one: TF1, the leader of French broadcasters, announced a partnership with Weborama to serve targeted ads on their catch-up TV offering, using the same profiling technology as currently used on the web. It is a PC only initiative, and only on catch-up, but with the rise of connected TVs, don't be surprised to see it coming on your big screen, and inside the linear programming.
By the way, this might also lead to a personalization of the streams: think YouTube meets MoodAgent on your TV screen. Better personalization of your TV "channels", better targeted ads, leading to more consumption and better engagement, and higher monetization. Sounds familiar?
News two: Google revamped their AdWords campaigns to break the wall between desktop and mobile ads. Going forward, marketers will be able to plan their campaigns centrally, and will play with bidding options to target specifically device types, locations, hours of day ... But more importantly, it will reduce the gap between mobile and desktop CPCs. For Google, who is constantly nagged on the mobile CPC sensitively lower than on desktop, it's a big deal! And if you push the reasoning further, you can read "a screen is a screen, give us your expectations, we manage the display".
When correlating these two announcements, one can clearly see a future where TV audience is evaluated along the same metrics as what we see today on the web, and TV being one advertising channel subject to equally objective performance measurements: actual exposition, transformation rate (of a call-to-action on a second screen?), etc.
Highly disruptive for TV channels, who may fight this fiercely, but - will they have a choice? Wouldn't they risk loosing attractiveness for advertisers, who may increase pressure to get the same transparency as they enjoy on the web? And use the same tools and methods?
Last week, my company hosted a client event, where I was moderating a round table on the topic "Digital distribution: what model for the future?". Yes, I know - what an expectation! I guess anybody with a clean and definitive answer would keep it for herself and start her own company. But anyway, it was very interesting to hear what people from different horizons had to say - music, TV, audience measurement agency, etc.
But one point in particular really got my attention. A very senior executive from a major French free TV explained to us non-linear video consumption is not hurting at all linear programming, and that the opposite is actually happening, i.e. an increase in average daily linear video consumption. And when asked how could this be, as all teenagers are hooked on YouTube, his answer was that in fact "the stats have been showing for more than 10 years a sharp drop in audience from teenagers and young adults between the age of 14 and 25, but then a strong come back when moving with a partner, and/or having their first child". Wow. It actually depressed me. So were we all lured into a digital fantasy?
Not so fast.
He was insisting these stats had been showing the inversed gaussian profile described above for over 10 years. But that's the issue. Main concern should not be about how things were nor how things are. It's all about how things will be going forward.
My 4-year-old daughter doesn't ask for watching TV. The asks for "the cartoons inside the TV" to designate VOD services. And "the bird in dad's computer" for road runner episodes on YouTube. So, when (almost) never watching linear programs when a kid, how in the world could she ever come back to them?
OK, I hear you, there in the back of the room, saying this is a very biased view, because we are a population of technology addicts, and our habits do not reflect the broader population. But again. Fine, they do not. I am ready to bet big time they will soon.
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