Forrester: TV Ads Will Start to Resemble Web Ads

Last Updated Aug 28, 2008 12:00 AM EDT

internet-tv-duality.jpgA few weeks back, I asked some experts in the ad world when interactive ad spend would surpass television ad spend. One of the most interesting responses came from Dave Martin, a Vice President of Interactive Media at Ignite, who said:
Online spend won't surpass television, instead TV is going to become interactive with addressable cable and data-collection at the set top box level. As digital cable becomes more addressable, it will require interactive media specialists to take full advantage of the new targeting capabilities in the living room. We'll see an appreciable shift within 3 years from "TV advertising" to "Interactive TV advertising."
A new report, "Personal TV: The Reinvention Of Television," authored by David Graves over at analyst shop Forrester, reinforces that point. The report lays out a much more detailed plan of where the market is moving, and how television advertising will be able to fight against the two main forces hampering marketers right now: fragmentation and ad skipping.

Graves foresees television networks teaming up with cable operators and telco companies to create what he dubs "Personal TV." Set-top boxes will be set up, and marketers will be able to show non-skippable ads to viewers of both real-time events and to those watching Video On Demand services. Why would viewers, particularly those who have grown accustomed to zapping through ads on their TiVos and On Demand cable boxes, be willing to go back to non-skippable ads? Price, according to Graves. "The benefit for viewers is a free [Video On Demand] system," he writes in the report's abstract. Meanwhile, marketers are able to draw up tremendous amounts of targeting data on consumers, and use it to greatly increase ROI on television advertising. So essentially, think of it as a set-top box version of Hulu.

It's certainly an appealing vision, but there's significant obstacles in the way, to my mind. One, networks and cable operators have had historical problems playing nice with one another, and telcos and cable companies have been at each others throats for years now. Two, as television's digital to analog conversion has shown, tech uptake is nearly always slower than anticipated. Many couch surfers are perfectly happy with the status quo, and significant advantages will have to be offered to get some to adopt a set-top box -- subsidization from whatever amalgamation of network, cable operator, and telco offering these "Personal TVs" won't be enough.

Photo from Flickr user Tim Pritlove, CC 2.0