Call me for any pitch and I am up and at ‘em, even in the wee hours of the morning. Speaking to an audience gives me the high but then there are some stalwarts who make me weak in my knees. One such name is Anuradha Aggarwal, the ex-CMO of Marico. After a crisp, who’s who led pitch presentation and creative flavouring, Anuradha asked a simple question to which I felt the unnerving power of her mind – “If you’re going to depend on ads and not on people’s beliefs, you are banking on something you created for yourself and not me.” That was the last line spoken in that meeting. We had no come backs and no repeats.
We can all think of a time when we were watching a great show, only to be bombarded with six to seven ads, the interruption taking us out of the experience of storytelling. The question then is - If brands are going to be part of great storytelling, how do we use technology to help them do that in a relevant way but then also get out of the way so that consumers stay connected to the story? No wonder, the non-ad based model of OTTs seem very disturbing to the non-adaptive tv channels who are still editing shorter versions of news clips and assigning them to social media mangers for uploading.
Even the staunchest advocate of TV advertising today will admit that with so many ad-free options to choose from, being bombarded with countless commercials during a single episode tarnishes the viewing experience for us. Truth be told, if there was ever a time for the TV ad industry to be bold and lean in to reimagining the consumer ad experience, it’s right now. The question is, does the industry have the tools it needs to do so - both from a measurement and technical standpoint, not to mention the will power needed to embrace huge operational change? Rather than signifying the end of TV advertising as we know it, I think the crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic could lead to a new type of audience-first revolution—with advertisers using more precise methods to reach their consumer out of necessity. What’s more, coming from a digital first creative studio, I must push the need to converge data from mobile to tv to iPad – multiscreen for each brand so that we understand the consumer holistically rather than in pieces.
One of the solutions to reinvent and realign might be to target specific audiences using TV ad technology which even brands can extend to promote premium, culture-defining content on streaming + cable. Why? Well because measurement is everything, so we will have to be truly data-agnostic and only an open measurement standard system across networks can help us do so. Imagine compiling consumer data from different platforms, assigning people to study it then combining it in your head – it’s a laborious task that is not the way a consumer’s mind thinks!
The advertising community's main challenge remains: How do you get in front of your customer in a relevant way and have an honest conversation that feels native to the experience? Giving consumers options, including ad-supported services, those with a very light ad experience or premium ad-free subscriptions offers brands the chance to make a better experience for consumers at a time when we're all watching more TV and videos online far more.
Not to be hopelessly optimistic but we will get past this current crisis as the world has done before, but, there is no going back to the way things used to be. The lessons we learnt from this lockdown experience will shape the future of the industry. For now, watch out for Disney+ Hotstar who launched 3 months early in India to sense how we’re evolving!