Q: IS TV OLD FASHIONED? by Kenneth McFarlane, Account Director

Q: “Is TV old-fashioned?”

A: “Absolutely not.  We’ve gone from four channels to hundreds.”

So spoke Sky’s Deputy MD in early 2018.  But it could easily have been an answer given at the tail-end of the last century.  This has long stopped being something to shout about – it’s an accepted fact, especially for my generation (the dreaded ‘millennials’).  Has nothing else happened with TV in the last decade that’s worth talking about?

Obviously, the answer is yes.  From HD to dabbling in 3D and Product Placement to addressable TV, a lot has happened to the box in the corner.  But Product Placement is now over 7yrs old.  Sky launched AdSmart in 2014.

With outdoor, media owners are able to talk about new formats, new panels and new ways of buying on a near-constant basis.  Online channels are evolving with even more regularity.  There’s always a new facebook format, targeting strategy or buying system to talk about.  The very fact that people are asking if TV is old-fashioned shows a perceived lack of ‘newness’.  Delivering the most profit, taking the lion’s share of the media day and evoking much more emotion than other media channels are all impressive facts – but they’re not new.

Thinkbox spend a lot of time these days defending their position, proving that what was true last decade is still true now.  And we’re promised that addressable TV is being scaled up to reach about a third of viewing in five years.  But that’s a while off – so what’s changing in the meantime?

A look across the pond might hold the answer.

A recent episode of Black-ish saw characters discussing an active campaign for Proctor & Gamble.  Blending advertising and editorial, one of the characters creates an ad campaign that focuses on P&G’s film.  Both the episode and the real-life campaign are called “The Talk”, and focus on parents talking to their children about racism.

This wasn’t product placement or ad-funded programming (which makes up 25% of UKTV’s content, for example) – it was new: Ad-Funded Storylines.

Considering Product Placement itself is only a £30m business in the UK, it’s unlikely that this new approach will take off quickly – if it’s adopted on these shores at all.  But it’s outside-the-box thinking like this that can tackle the question of whether TV is old-fashioned.

Of course TV isn’t old-fashioned.  But let’s give it something dynamic to talk about – a more positive conversation that looks forwards rather than back, and beyond the 30” spot to something more disruptive.  If we do that more, nobody would even be asking the question in the first place.