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At the ARF Audience Measurement conference this week, some speakers really got me thinking about what happens when all media becomes digital.  Here are three forces that could produce profound changes in media and advertising both from a business and user experience point of view.

Everything will become digital

Digital used to be synonymous with online but everything will become digital. Dave Poltrack from CBS predicts a huge increase in HD, 3D, and IPTV TV sales.  David Verklin, President of Canoe Ventures talks about the interactive TV advertising experience that will be nationally available via Canoe (a joint venture of the biggest cable operators).  video in Facebook?  How about facebook built into your new 55″ HD 3D TV? The future of print media is being revolutionized by electronic readers like iPad.  One can also imagine codes being inserted into print advertising or editorial pieces that, when captured by a smart phone, instantly leads to a multi-media experience or electronic coupon. Radio sees a digital path forward with servable audio streaming.

Digitization is transformational to the media experience, advertising possibilities and media businesses.  No longer is CBS a TV company or Time, Inc. a magazine; no longer is “media platform” the business organizing principle.  Now, the media property is the organizing principle and it must live synergistically across platforms.  Advertising on traditional media no longer has to be static and served to a whole audience (but more on this later).

As traditional media reinvent themselves in a digital age, they will hold onto, even increase, their attractiveness to advertisers.

Data will always trail the media possibilities

New touchpoints are emerging weekly it seems.  Advertising via the iPad is exciting and was born so very recently.  Apps for smart phones that create amazing location-aware and shopper marketing options are emerging so fast it is mind-numbing.  How can a manufacturer not want to put codes on packages that, via a reader that any smart phone can now have, bring a brand’s story to life with sight, sound, and motion at point of purchase?

Digitization allows a marketer to guide a consumer along the path to purchase right to the check-out.  Imagine a TV commercial where you can request a coupon that then gets delivered to your cell phone and is integrated with cell phone payment via a reader (exists in Asia already).

The point is, syndicated media research data bases, custom marketing research assessment can’t possibly get ahead of this; they will always be playing catch-up, focusing on the most significant of the touchpoints that are attracting substantial funds. The marketer who is cautionary and wants to wait for “solid evidence” of the effectiveness of a new media option will find themselves behind their competitors.

The importance of understanding audience size will diminish as we go to ad serving

The most important things in traditional media, the stats we all understand, relate to audience size ( GRPs, circ, etc.) However, imagine watching an episode of House on a platform that allows for selective ad serving.  As soon as two different households start getting different ads served to them, measuring total audience becomes less important to the advertiser.  They need to know how many got served the ad according to targeting ad serving rules, but total program audience is not a measure of reach in a targeting world.  Online, monthly uniques are a guide to which sites an advertiser should consider but they are paying for impressions served (or clicks).  “Traditional” media could/should move to this model as it becomes digital.

If this comes to pass as traditional media become digital, imagine the implications for syndicated media currency databases, and media tools.  While this will be traumatic to the existing infrastructure for “traditional media”, the increased business value of advertising and the increased CPMs that advertising should command when it is made more relevant based on intelligent serving rules are potentially very significant.

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One Response to “What happens to traditional media when it goes digital?”

  1. I really like the thought about no longer buying total audiences for shows and instead buying just the people you want to talk to.

    Over here in the UK the major cable type TV provider Sky are launching something called Sky Adsmart –

    In the above article according to Mediacom 35% of all ads in the UK shall be ad-servable by 2013.

    Interesting times.