So, Robert Cringely has a piece on the death of traditional advertising. The nutshell idea: because pay-per-click revenue offers such a transparent view of its efficacy, it is stealing advertising dollars from print media and TV advertising.
Agreed. As a business owner (or co-owner), I find Google ads a very attractive way to spend my dollars. I am utterly certainly about the ROI for each dollar spent. And while the ads that work in the space (Scrapbooking Supplies, which my wife sells both online and B&M) are not "cheap", they are effective and measurable. Compare that to neighborhood fliers left on doors by hand, or to back-of-magazine classifies ads or even the more expensive traditional radio, magazine, and TV ads. They're all nearly impossible to track. Moreover, they clearly do not work generally in an immediate way. My father runs a jewelry store and did extensive TV advertising. He has learned, and I have heard advertising salespeople repeat this, that you need to advertise on TV reasonably heavily for about 6 weeks before your "message" "sinks in" and people respond. Compare that to my click throughs, where the majority of successful clicks result in immediate sales, and I can also easily know who signs up for a newsletter or such and orders later, and who returns to order more times in the future.
None of this is a new line of thought, but fundamentally, *this* is why TV content producers and distributors should be falling all over themselves to do TV on demand. Basically, people should rent a cheap box that lets them get VOD. The VOD should basically give them access to all content, with either a viewing fee, a purchase fee, or an "advertising viewing" ratio. But if the system has you "sign in", then data about you and your interests and such can be used to tailor commercials for you. It doesn't take a genius to figure out that everyone wins with more targeted ads. You see a smaller number of ads which you find either aesthetically appealing, funny, or interesting. Advertisers get interested consumers and better results. Win-win.
Let me take this a step further. TVs, equipped with videophones, can voice-recognize interest.
"If this sounds interesting, say 'Operator' and we will connect you with a WidgetHouse Widget Consultant now.... [pause]"
And if you don't say anything, in 3 seconds it hops over to your content.
Can you imagine a TV that can respond to an expression of interest by a consumer and connect them to someone who can help the process along?
This could happen tomorrow. All of the technology exists now. Heck, you could skip the video and just have voice recogniition. Register your TV with your phone number. You say "operator", and your phone rings. And API could even handle interest contacts for different mediums. Download a free show for your video iPod. It says "Interested?" and you say yes or no, and the yes triggers an email/call/etc when you reconnect your iPod. (or, in a world with a wireless/cell-enabled iPod, you get a call then, or an SMS message with a number or whatever)
TV is an awesome channel for entertainment, but pay-per-click has shown it really stinks for advertising. Sure, it has reach, but it doesn't channel consumer interest well, it is difficult if not impossible to evaluate advertising effectiveness, etc. Plus, with Text ads, you can try 5 different bits of copy and google will automatically gravitate towards the one that works best. Imagine if a big TV advertiser could show 5 TV ads and the ones people "liked" automatically moved more into rotation.
I can't go as far as Cringely and actually predict any of this will happen. There's no catalyst. I expect to see a move toward direct user-supported TV in the near future. Frankly, I have to wonder why I should pay $60/mo for digital cable... I already have DSL, don't I? I should be able to get my TV over one pipe, getting just the shows I want. Assuming the pipe costs $40/mo (that's more than the $30 you can get DSL for in a lot of places now), that leaves $50/mo that phone companies could claim a big fat piece of by dislodging cable. I mean, Cable companies are offering IP based phone service - why are bells not offering IP-based TV service?