Explorations from the IPTV divide

It is not that I was consciously considering the report issued last year by IBM Business Consulting Services titled 'The end of television as we know it: a future industry perspective' when I sat down on a Thursday evening in the late spring to seriously view video podcasts for my first time. No, it was much more about the extreme lethargy my television was causing me. That evening, unrelated vectors including targeted in-market advertising for CBC podcasts, a book that wasn't capturing my interest, the Apple iTunes store and a mind

It is not that I was consciously considering the report issued last year by IBM Business Consulting Services titled ‘The end of television as we know it: a future industry perspective’ when I sat down on a Thursday evening in the late spring to seriously view video podcasts for my first time. No, it was much more about the extreme lethargy my television was causing me. That evening, unrelated vectors including targeted in-market advertising for CBC podcasts, a book that wasn’t capturing my interest, the Apple iTunes store and a mind

reader who seemed to be making a comeback all converged. It was at this intersection that my explorations on Internet television began.

IBM had identified two key drivers of change in the TV industry: access to content through new platforms and increasing involvement with viewing. I watched my computer with interest as a Bud Light ad transitioned into The Hour featuring The Amazing Kreskin. I realized that I had moved myself from the lower left quadrant of one of IBM’s graphs into the upper right. It was all very entertaining and satisfying. Oddly, the pain I had been experiencing earlier watching conventional TV was gone.

After viewing the podcast for the full 17 minutes, I enthusiastically clicked onto another one containing an interview with a Mossad spy. This video opened with a Bud Light ad as well. When I clicked through to watch an episode about people who eat trash, it too opened with a Bud Light ad, and this prompted me to think.

I fully appreciate the benefits of segmented targeting, but the experience brought back memories of specialty TV’s early days, which were rife with horrendous levels of ad repetition. When I moved to the CTV site only to view a Molson ad over and over again with every video viewing, my suspicions were confirmed. We as an industry were fueling a new environment of segmented and

brain-numbing commercial wearout.

The repetition that still exists today in some specialty and diginet environments is now being further exacerbated by the online TV offerings. Any consideration over commercial wearout seems to have been pushed aside by the interests of targeting, new platform ventures and the making of the media sale. Often, we serve up ad frequency levels to our most desired consumers that are way beyond a logical threshold.

There’s an even greater harm here, and it resides in the stickiness of TV’s online offerings in Canada. Although it’s better this year, the Canadian TV online offering as a whole feels well behind that of other countries. When an interested video-content consumer navigates through this Canadian landscape, and is then met with access limitations, lack of choice or shocking ad frequency levels, the prospect of that consumer returning in the near future has been reduced.

For anyone over 30, watching TV is a whole lot easier than this online experience, even if there is a desire to be more involved. For the under 30s, they just follow the content, and if the Canadian sites are not providing it – as is often the case – they simply go elsewhere.

We keep hearing that content is king, but there is nothing like trying to access blocked shows to feel like the fool.

Let’s fix it before Canada falls off the map.

1. Media agencies: Forge agreements that are multi-brand or multi-client in nature to help reduce irritating frequency levels.

2. Creative agencies: Develop multiple creative versions to accommodate the multiplicity of exposures.

3. Media: Get the foreign-produced content issue figured out quickly; geo-blocking,

no-choice and the YouTube quagmire are not viable options for this country.

4. Clients: Take risks and experiment – advertisers are complicit in the state of this environment.

5. Research: The lack of research is hurting us all, but collectively we can address this. We need to better understand engagement across the many channels that now exist.

IBM was predicting a major shift to

on-demand television viewing by 2011, but it might take much longer for Canada. In fact, if we continue serving up online experiences like today’s, we can safely predict that many viewers’ involvement with viewing will remain relegated to the TV remote, until we fix it.

Luke Moore is SVP director of business development at M2 Universal. He freely admits videogames have changed his life for the better. Luke can be reached at luke.moore@m2universal.ca