Are TV ads becoming obsolete?

It’s a cliché—technology is booming, particularly in the areas of entertainment and social media. Ten years ago, television shows were recorded on VHS cassettes and cell phones only had calling services. But in the past decade, every computer geek’s dream has come true; a connected universe strung together by TV-on-the-go-shows and one-forty character conversations. The future isn’t tomorrow, it’s happening right now. The first television advertisement appeared in 1941, right before a baseball game between the Brooklyn Dodgers and the Philadelphia Phillies. The 10-second clip showcased watchmaker Bulova’s famous catchphrase, “America runs on Bulova time.” From that moment, the idea of placing commercial ads on television became a reality. Now, televised advertising has formed into a vibrant business in itself. How are technological innovations and advertisements related? Simple: the majority of people would much rather check Facebook than watch a commercial. For the average Joe, keeping up with his friends seems more relevant than watching a gecko sing about car insurance. And even if he did need an accident appraisal, he could just as easily find Geico’s website from his cell phone or laptop. And, who knows, perhaps internet browsing from the small screen in between shows will become a real concept inthe near future. Certainly, the video game media has taken steps toward advancing that concept. Companies like Microsoft and Sony have already jumped on the bandwagon. In the past decade, these two gaming powerhouses have essentially popularized and evolved console-to-internet capabilities. By doing this, anybody who owns aPlaystation or XBOX can instantly connect to the world from his or her couch. On top of that, video game consoles are quickly becoming more powerful than home PCs. By simply pressing a few buttons, a user can immediately access Twitter and Facebook, watch movies and television shows on demand, or browse the internet…among other things. Why, then , should somebody sit down at a specific time to watch a forty-five minute television show mingled with another fifteen minutes worth of commercials? It’s much easier to turn on the PS3 and watch the show (ad-free, albeit) at any time during the day. Advertisers aren’t turning a cold shoulder to the new media modules, however. Many ideas have been tossed around in regards to commercials that are both cheap and applicable. Splashscreens, start-up ads, and corner logos are becoming more and more popular among companies who want to get their names out. For instance, from the XBOX Live dashboard, various images are displayed to showcase off the latest games,shows, and movies. From there, users can immediately buy that particular item and use it directly from the console. In essence, this method is efficient and allows companies to quickly gain money. “ TV ads are becoming less of the overall marketing budget because digital is the newest way to have a dialogue with your customers,” said Greg Angland, senior vice president of Blitz Media. According to the Association of National Advertisers, marketers only invested 41% of their budgets for televisionin 2009 as compared to 58% in 2008. In congruence with this stat, the ANA found that television advertisers are concerned about the lack of measurement for widely-broadcast commercials. “If you [the advertiser] don’t have a specific demographic and it isn’t broad-based, television is fairly wasteful,” Angland concluded. Which leads to the idea of targeted advertising. Since the inception of the internet, digital cookies have kept track of what things specific users look up and access. That way, the computer can automatically display user-guided advertisements on websites. This method only seems intrusive to a small group of people. In fact, 96% of people weren’t concerned about internet cookies according to a recent survey by the Digital Advertising Alliance. Then again, the DAA survey was relative and appropriate. “Some other studies have used emotional words,” said Lou Mastria, the DAA’s director.“If it uses the word ‘tracking’ and doesn’t define what it is, it can mean alot of things. For the advertising industry, we’ve said what it means and that the results of the poll bear this out.” The survey also revealed a surprising tidbit: the majority of people prefer tailored ads. About 70% of the people were supportive of the idea, as compared to 16% who wanted random internet commercials. The art of advertising is rapidly changing. People don’t necessarily care for commercials, let alone think of them when buying a product. However, with the growth of technology, companies are trying to find unique, innovative ways to get inside people’s heads. And in order to do that, these companies are going to need to get into the people’s phones, computers, and video games. The future is now.