Ask anyone in the business, and they’ll tell you that the television advertising industry is undergoing some dramatic changes. But few people seem to really know what these changes are.

Here are 4 major changes in the broadcast advertising space that require agencies to adapt the way they work.

What we do know is that consumers of television are changing their behavior, and that technology is playing a big role in this change.

As for what it all means, well, we can only see so far into the future. But it’s clear that ad agencies need to adapt to these changes, either by changing the way they organize their work, or by learning new technologies and ways of thinking.

Retain What Works on TV, and Expand To Online

Online, just as it has affected print, it is having a big impact on TV. According to Gartner, mobile ad spend is expected to increase by almost $5 billion in 2014. That’s a market that advertising executives ignore at their own peril.

More and more, online technology is transforming the TV ad market – most industry watchers agree that a convergence of TV and online is happening. What we don’t know is the degree of convergence, and exactly when it will peak.

One thing is for sure is broadcasters are embracing the challenge of online video. They are moving to fold tablet and phone viewership into their own business models, via value-added experiences, and playback services.

But while we keep an eye on online, neither can we afford to neglect a healthy TV market, which unlike print, is still steadily growing: Publicis Group predict a 5.2% growth between 2013 and 2014.

Yes, we’re not seeing the double- or triple-digit growth that online has, but the TV ad industry isn’t exactly small fry. The key is to retain what works on TV, but expand to online.

For agencies and studios with a good base in traditional TV ad production processes, this is a great opportunity to transform and transfer those foundations to newer forms, things like video display advertising – an area which grew 56% during the last year.

Rethink Ad Strategy To Encompass Multiple Devices and New Tracking Metrics

Enabled by technology, consumers have been freed from their place at the couch. Today, TV content is now also available via video streaming, or time-shifted recording devices. Besides TV programs, we’re also watching online videos and entire movies on computer screens, on tablets, and on phones.

Everyone can now consume content in their own individual way, wherever and whenever they want. We watch fragments when we are in between tasks, when we are commuting, or even multi-task between screens.

The most recent Australian Multiscreen Report by OzTam found that Australians are spending more time watching conventional TV than they did a year ago. But they are complementing their viewing of TV and other video by using Internet connected devices.

Teenagers, who are up-and-coming power-spending generation, spent 8:48 hours per month watching video on their mobile phones.

During any given month, people aged 18 to 24 spent, on average:

  • 3:30 hours watching video on tablets
  • 12:23 hours watching video on their PC or laptop
  • 43:24 hours watching TV at home

Yes, old habits die hard: most people are still dedicating the odd half an hour or an hour of downtime to TV watching. And even though as many as 30% of people say they time-shift their TV watching, time-shifted consumption is only impacting less than 10% of actual TV viewing.

So the traditional TV advertising approach is still very important, but in view of the new ways of consumption, we need to add on new, and better ways to get the message across to those audiences, as well as adapting the metrics we use to analyze the successes of campaigns. It’s time to consider new ad formats and types and new ways of tracking audience metrics.

Audience Engagement and Deeper Insights

We have people live-tweeting their way through television programs, but the jury is still out on whether social media integration is really such a big thing for advertisements.

That said, it’s great to have viewers who are publicly advertising their engagement with the content in real time.

This is a real opportunity to improve our audience insight by analysing these social media sentiments. It can also help us build some good ideas for cross-media campaigns.

Other technologies like video streaming allow for even more detailed tracking of how the audience behaves. Interesting and commercially applicable insights include things like:

  • the number of episodes that the average TV show binger watches in a single seating
  • the number of dedicated viewers who will chase the global premiere of an episode (usually by simulcast streaming)
  • when people normally pause or stop a program
  • preferred devices and times for watching particular pieces of content
  • preferred genres for particular viewers

It’s time to establish links between the TV and the social media teams, form partnerships with program streaming providers, and see what insights can be gained by combining the expertise from both areas.

Hard Sells Fall Short

Now that consumers are no longer a “captive audience”, the traditional 15 or 30 second hard selling ads are far less effective. This is especially true on the Internet, where cynicism rules the day.

The new generation of connected audiences don’t really mind advertising – IF you do it on their terms. Yes, to use an over-used phrase, content is king.

This is why cross-media advertising campaigns are effective in engaging audiences. It’s also why people don’t mind longer form ads, as long as they meet the quality criteria. Case in point: the popularity of half-time Superbowl ads.

The age-old secrets to advertising still apply in today’s world:

  • entertainment
  • connection
  • information

But we now have cross-media technologies and engagement to think about as well. So what does this mean for an ad production agency?

Longer form content means a greater focus on the creative and production processes, possibly having to work with more contractors and freelancers to attain the required production values.

Multi-screen and cross-media campaigns mean we now have to build the communication bridges across traditionally siloed departments.

Print, TV, radio and online need to work together, and establish the content and technological links that allow audiences to seamlessly flow from one form of media to another. We must also build a greater understanding of how audiences use different screens, and target ad content to effectively reach them.

What do you think?

Have we missed anything? Is online really such a big agent of change? Are you adapting and changing your practices in response to the new market forces at work? We would love to hear from you in the comments section below.