For decades, the :30 TV spot defined advertising.
There was no better medium to tell a brand story than film, and no better way to reach the masses efficiently than television. When it came to emotionally connecting to an audience, a well-crafted spot combined music and pictures to touch the hearts and minds of open, receptive audiences.
But audiences have become much less receptive and open. And it’s no longer even arguable that you can reach a mass target efficiently on TV when there are hundreds of channels, time-shifted viewing and subscription networks like Netflix to fragment a brand’s media strategy. Is it time for the :30 TV spot to die?
The answer is yes. But it won’t happen soon. As cable giants like ESPN cut their staff due to falling viewership, advertisers gain a new advantage. It is advertisers that will keep TV “free.” The cable companies and networks are too dependent on the revenue, and as that revenue drops, ads will step in to fill their earnings gaps. So get your fast-forward finger ready. The future, at least for the next 10 years, is more TV spots, not less.
But the answer is also no. Eventually, almost all content will be delivered on your favorite mobile device, personally targeted to each individual. But a brand still has to tell its story. And it’s hard to beat a movie for delivering a brand’s visually stunning, emotionally stirring message. So, while television itself might not be the place where these brand movies are seen, the digital realm provides numerous opportunities to get them in front of the right audiences. We’ll be making commercials for years to come. They just won’t be called TV spots.