February's TV conversion from standard NTSC to Digital TV has dragged on for nine years like a star player who's been sitting on the bench. Much of the talk has been around the conversion itself. But what about the content?
From what DTV I've been able to see, it's not looking good. Lots of recycled content, weather, information loops. Where's the advertiser value?
This is where Interactive marketing has a huge opportunity. The CPM of these channels locally and nationally will never be lower, and network flexibility will never be higher. And thanks to the digital conversion, the technical barriers to entry are also low.
What this means for brand marketers is the chance to return to the sponsorship model. But this time, instead of just sponsoring a show, brands can enhance the broadcast itself with content driven from the Web. For brands well poised with Web video content this is the opportunity to begin broadcasting that video against a wider audience, testing effectiveness.
For example, InTheMotherHood will be making the transition from the Web to TV this spring on ABC. And it's a harbinger of revisiting the onld sponsorship model. A no brainer : the content is already created in digital video by Suave (Unilever) and Sprint, and has an audience already built with the all-important mom demographic.
Where it gets really interesting is adding the dimension of social networking to the broadcast.
Taking people's pictures and opinions from the Web and broadcasting them is the TV equivalent to waving at the jumbotron. It's the best kind of social proof, adds something new to the channel, and drives more interest back to Web properties. Since the introduction of television, people have taken their opinion of what they watch and brought it back to peer groups for mediation. Why not do that in real-time with the extra bandwidth?
Again, using the InTheMotherhood example, showing forum entries from participants in a ticker across the bottom of the screen. A simple idea, but once broadcast, becomes a powerful lottery-like dynamic.
Digital TV expansion may be just the link between viewers, TV, and smartphones that digital marketers have been waiting for.