TV of Tomorrow. Be Afraid. Be Very Afraid.

Tracy Swedlow, Editor-in-Chief of [itvt] is a futurist who always seems one step ahead of the industry. That is why, if you want to stay informed, her TV of Tomorrow conference in NYC each year is a must attend.

Last year the conference focused on data. In 2013, it was TV Everywhere. Both of those issues are still very relevant and were part of this year’s program. This year, Swedlow focused on "touch points in the industry that include live streaming, programmatic, OTT, TV Everywhere, measurement, Virtual Reality, personalization and app-ification." The burning issues for her are, the “distribution of content. Can everyone keep up with all of the new content being made available? There are so many companies trying to build a relationship with the viewers directly. So the management of that, the distribution of that, the tracking of that is really critical.” 

We not only still face a myriad of industry stresses that continue unabated but, like a hydra, these stresses form many new heads. Here are some of them:

The App-ification of Television
Many agree that the definition of TV has fully evolved from being hardware (“The TV Box”) to, as Swedlow said, "anywhere where video, interactivity, data, where you go to find content, augmented reality, virtual reality, even digital signage – that is a form of TV – it could be on your watch. It could be anywhere where video is today. It could be a hologram standing in the middle of space. And I think all of that will be part of your TV experience in the future.”   
Now that Apple is opening up its platform to a larger developer group, how will that impact video offerings? "How do you turn television into an application?” posited Swedlow. With that can come the introduction of motion interaction with content, how viewers engage with content as well as an evolution of how the business sector engages in commerce.

App development is not easy. Colin Dixon, Principal, nScreenMedia, started off his panel on apps by saying, “You can't be a successful network unless you have an app that delivers content to devices. But it is hard to have a great app.” Keeping it simple and making the content easy and fast to access are important elements to a successful app. And don’t stop there. Martijn van Horssen, COO, Accedo warned, “You have to monitor the quality of your stream all the time. It is a continuous process to offer the best experience. Technology advances and you have to advance too.”

Measurement Challenges Continue
There is arguably no easy way for measurement to fully encompass all of the new services and distribution points now available in the industry. According to Joan Fitzgerald, SVP Television and Cross-Media Services, comScore, “The system we rely on to measure (TV) content has been failing us.  We are not capturing all of the impressions consumed by consumers.” Sherry Brennan, SVP Distribution, Fox Networks, noted, “The changing video consumption is fractured across more platforms but there is still a lot of viewing on TVs. What is missing is currency in non-traditional platforms.”

“Measurement is going to be catching up all the time,” intoned Swedlow. “When they finally figure out some standardized way to add tags that can track individual assets and everyone accepts that standard then I think we will have a really powerful industry that can drive monetization through all these networks. But until then, a lot of people in the live streaming world are coming up with new ways to monetize what they are doing. If the companies out there trying to develop measurement and tracking technologies don’t solve this situation, they may find that someone else will come up with a new solution.”

The Changing Advertising Models
Between Addressable, Dynamic Ad Insertion (DAI) and Programmatic, there are more ways to target consumers and go beyond the traditional forms of buying media. But it is not easy. According to Brennan, “Collectively we create issues by licensing our content to platforms that have no advertising like Netflix. Consumers get used to viewing content without ads. And so we face a double whammy. DVRs are another aspect. Viewers can watch without ads and we don't get paid more for that. We can't target ads into linear yet but can target ads in time shifted platforms. We may require viewers to interact with an ad before they see the content. We are using technology to feed ads in front of content where the viewer has to interact and then they can skip all of the other ads. But we need to be able to scale. We are at the end of the beginning to do what we want to do.”

Let’s Get to “Provable ROI”
Howard Shimmel, Chief Research Officer at Turner Broadcasting, threw down a gauntlet to business-as-usual by saying, ”We need to measure audiences and break down the walls around dayparts. Dayparts really don't matter. We need to measure outcomes. Today we take ad money with a negotiated guarantee and then report the delivery that we promised to deliver. Tomorrow we need to be able to deliver outcomes and conduct planning for outcomes. Eventually we need to get to a world of predictive outcome measurement. So if we know that Conan sells soda better than cars, we need to be responsive to that inventory.  I need campaigns measured and integrated all the time so I can normalize. We need ‘Provable ROI’ for guaranteeing sales. I don't care about age and sex.”

What will be the TVOT focus next year? According to Swedlow, “Virtual Reality, emerging television and the new consumer platforms coming out.” And then she added, “As well as sticking to the same topics as this year’s conference.” Some issues are eternal.

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