When people start to explore the changing nature of the TV landscape, they are instantly hit by a multitude of thought camps making differing claims about what the future of the industry, consumer experience, and technology will look like. Some will emphatically state that TV is rapidly becoming upended during a period of intense evolution and convergence. Others believe that small shifts have resulted in only minor changes. The truth is that the current and future nature of television is vastly complex and undergoing what could best be described as an ongoing yet subtle disruption. There has been no great "black and white to color" shift that has occurred, but a plethora of changes in consumer behavior and technology have set the gears in motion to change and converge television, the digital landscape, entertainment media, and the marketing that falls behind them all.
The best way to understand the most crucial changes currently taking place and analyze what the future of the space will look like is to evaluate the TV marketplace based on how these changes are occurring via novel behavioral and technological shifts. We will explore the top five changes in both to predict and understand where change is occurring and how marketers can capitalize on the potential in the growing landscape.
Changing behaviorsVideo will be consumed everywhere and at all times
Many in the industry will balk and cringe when I say this, but the future of the TV and entertainment industry hinges on the term video. The nature of entertainment content consumption is becoming jumbled. Audiences are streaming content, watching short-form and long-form video from a variety of sources, utilizing catch-up TV as well as appointment-based watching, and engaging in these actions in nontraditional ways and times. The blend of the content consumed has little rhyme or reason. Some spend their free time watching traditional linear programming and supplement with short-form videos. Others are solely watching over the top content via a variety of new providers like Netflix and Amazon, as well as other niche sources of premium online video.
The point is that content is everywhere, and digital video most specifically is exploding across connected devices -- and it will continue to do so. Viewers will consume video across screens in diverse manners. They will watch short-form videos on TV screens. They will watch streamed sports on mobile or long-form movies on tablets. They will utilize differing devices for all of their varying content in diverse ways and across times. Video in both short and long form will also be upgraded with new technology to create an experience that makes watching seamless, intuitive, and interactive. Intensive content-recommendation engines will create TV-like experiences with any format of video content and engage in ways that broadcast cannot.Viewers will deepen socialization across connected devices
One must be incredibly careful to not bucket the term "social TV" into some sort of fad, a Twitter integration, a second-screen app, or, especially, a technology functionality. Social TV is in fact a behavior with subsets that span the digital world with their basis on how we communicate across platforms around content. It has and will continue to grow as social media continues to deeply root itself into modern culture. The TV and advertising industries must strictly view the digital subsets of social TV as novel methodologies and techniques to encourage socialization across all digital media wherever they are utilized. It doesn't matter the platform or the venue. What matters is the conversation itself -- its ability to be spread and analyzed. What matters most is that the digital world has provided new mouthpieces and venues for people to chat and share the latest on what they are watching. For savvy marketers, this means the ability to analyze conversations relative to watching behaviors, expand upon cross-media campaigns, and create various real-time social engagements across silos. Social TV also lends itself to the ability to produce ad formats that leverage the capability of viewers watching TV while engaging in digital socialization at the same time.
Audiences have shown that they want to dive in deeper to the entertainment content they are watching. These audiences are seeking to become active participants in the stories they love, and they are turning to the digital world to deepen their engagement both during programming and off-hours. The ability for multiple formats, platforms, and devices to tell one consistent story has been creating new-found levels of intrigue and entertainment for watchers across the board. This trend will only deepen and become more profound. The capability of TV to tell a story not just by itself, but across novel properties, provides audiences with new ways to interact and new ways to engage for marketers. Multiple industries will be able to capitalize on "TV" becoming an experience that lasts far longer than 30 minutes and becomes part of an entertainment-fan lifestyle that is ongoing and multi-platform.Long-form ad consumption will flourish
The traditional 30-second TV ad spot has been in trouble for a long time. DVR technology, desire for two-way dialogue, lack of trust in push-based marketing, and many other market forces have driven consumers away from 30-second spots. That said, viewers are seeking out and investing their time in long-form ad formats that compel them with a story. Not just an ad, but a programming experience that entertains, informs, and captivates. Branded entertainment has the ability to turn ad content into something far more engaging. The same behaviors that have been instigating viewers to pay less attention to 30-second spots will compel audiences to deepen their desire for longer stories that resonate.Blendable reality will become the next entertainment experience
As a culture, we are always seeking the novel. This novelty has been shown to be most effective on the entertainment front when we can directly participate, have control over the nature of content, and, especially, when it is spread across locations. Blending reality with TV will allow audiences to cultivate and interact with entertainment outside of their living room. Blending entertainment content with real-life situations and the ability of connected and augmented screens to allow viewers to take engagements found in the real world into the world of content means far deeper experiences. Essentially, TV content that requires people to go out and experience real life in direct correlation, and interaction will be strongly sought out.
TechnologiesConnected TV/smart TV will change the nature of the living room experience
It is still undecided what connected TV will look like over the next few years. Currently, consumers are utilizing transitional devices that provide connectivity, like Roku, game stations, and Blu-rays. They are buying new lines of smart TVs or TVs with endemic internet connectivity baked in to the device itself, which have been seeing increased market penetration. Equally interesting are devices like Chromecast that bring forth a simple plug-and-play device to create connectivity and screen shifting for any TV set. The ability of connected TV is multifold: big screen content of any type, at any time, robust TV app marketplaces in addition to the ability to create television interactivity across digital and broadcast properties. Newfound apps mean not only novel content sources, but also apps that marry lean-forward interactivity with content. The discussion of TV apps, interactive ad formats for the big screen, advanced TV commerce potential, as well as analytics and targeting could take pages.Programmatic media buys will become the norm
Programmatic TV buying is already here, and much like digital, it will see a huge uptick in the coming years. While there is an old and established guard protecting the traditional TV media buying industry, the typical hype and relationship-based television buying standard has its days numbered. Programmatic buying across TV/video properties means streamlined and more effective ad purchases with greater efficiency, ease, and speed. Programmatic buying across TV and video will be the norm not the exception.
TV is no longer a one-screen experience. Across the board, consumers watch with differing devices in diverse ways. Some want experiences directly correlated across devices; some will utilize their screens in an asynchronous manner. The bottom line is that technology like automatic content recognition, ad retargeting across devices, broadcast integration with connected devices, and social integrations across screens mean audiences will directly participate with their content endemically. Multiscreen technologies will allow a closed loop across devices and interaction with content in novel manners. For advertisers, this means the capability of viewers to be directly addressed, tracked, and analyzed on a personal level.Big data will change the entire programming and production experience
Big data has come to TV-land, and it's making a splash across the space. The most overused yet exceptional example is Netflix, with a special regard to often-commented-on "House of Cards." The ability to create/log viewer events across millions of users from even simple items like pausing a show in a certain place means that Netflix has data that can be utilized to take advantage of literally every behavioral change we make on the large scale. The practice is growing across the TV/video space to better understand/analyze/recommend/alter/enhance the entire consumer watching, discovery, advertising, and programming experience. The implications of big data on TV change the entire experience and the future of literally all aspects of the entertainment experience.User-experience demands will make many new technologies falter
3D TV is an exceptional example of how user experience will dictate the future of television. Many technologies will provide strong initial value propositions and intriguing potential in the space that will be short lived. We will see a plethora of new technologies that seem to hold promise for viewers and marketers alike quickly abandoned when consumers run into issues with user experiences that go beyond the initial glamor. 3DTV, voice-activated control mechanisms for television, gesture control, and many other pieces of initially interesting/hyped tech will continue to run into issues based on user experience alone.
On Twitter? Follow iMedia Connection at @iMediaTweet.
"Young woman in armchair" image via Shutterstock.