The Last Year of Television

Just in case you still think that the hundreds of TV channels available to you via your remote-control are basically here to inform or entertain you – think again! With a few exceptions, the tv-channels are designed primarily as a platform for advertisers and their tv-spots, interrupted by movies, news, documentations or silly shows overloaded by product-placement.

Did you ever ask yourself, where the genre ‘soap opera’ has its name from? Well, many of the first televised daytime-soaps were available (to the predominately female viewership) not because some TV-director thought of it as a good idea to entertain the audience, but only because series like ‘The Young And The Restless’ were 100% sponsored and produced by Procter & Gamble, a giant marketer of countless household-products ‘designed’ for women like soaps or detergent and brands like Pampers, Fairy or Tampax.

But, as anyone knows, the good days for television are gone. 2016 will be the last year in which spending for tv-spots will be higher than online-advertising. According to a report by Zenith Optimedia, in 2017 internet advertising will overtake that on television for the first time. The report claims that spending on Internet advertising by businesses around the globe is expected to grow at more than three times the rest of the industry, driven by growing demand for ads on social media, paid search and online video. The vast majority of new Internet advertising will be targeted at mobile devices.

Television will lose the fight against online, but ‘survives’ 2016 basically thanks to 3 major events: ‘Euro 2016’, the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro and the US-Presidential campaign, or more correctly, thanks to the ‘Trump-effect’.

If ‘The Donald’ appears on TV, ratings and ad-prices spike. CNN is charging advertisers up to 40 times its usual rate and Leslie Mooves of the network CBS bluntly remarked on a recent investor’s conference: ‘Man, this is pretty amazing. It may not be good for America, but is damn good for CBS. The money’s rolling in.. This is fun.”

I actually have no use for that kind of fun, so I think it’s a good sign, that the business-model of television, driven almost exclusively by advertising that dictates that almost everything on TV be reduced to the lowest level of entertainment, is finally crumbling.

But will it be better, when the ads move even more from your television to your smartphone? Or will the same effect take place online, with countless stupid stories to attract clicks resp. ads?

Well, there is at least hope for the better. The invention of the ad-blocker could come to the rescue. I would very much encourage any user to download one of the available mobile-apps or try the new version of the ‘Opera’-browser, who is set to become the first big desktop browser to include a built-in ad blocker.

This is not a statement against the ad-industry, which is in fact an important player in an open economy both for longtime-players (to protect marketshare) or new enterprises to become broadly known. But a widespread use of ad-blockers can prevent online to move in the same direction like tv did with constantly lowering the quality and crossing the line to disinformation or stupidity, daily demonstrated for instance on romanian tv-channels.

First, ad-blockers will speed up loading times. Researchers at Enders Analysis looked at 8 websites from popular publishers and accessed them from a browser that replicated an iPhone 6. The result: up to 80% (!!) of the data downloaded was from advertising. The new Opera-browser claims even more, like a 90% faster loading time.

Second, while advertisers of tv-spots never exactly knew, what tv-watchers really did during the ‘breaks’ – up to 90% were switching channels, went to the bathroom or got themselves a fresh beer is my personal estimation. With desktop or mobile ad-blockers, advertisers will learn precisely, how annoyed people are when it comes to their ads.

Would you advertise (and pay) for a product of your company via an online-platform, when you know, that the majority of your targeted audience is suppressing your commercial automatically? Or even pay for an ‘ad-blocker-pro’ not to be bothered by your ad?

Instead of asking online-users to deactivate the ad-blocker, otherwise they would be ‘banned’ to read or watch your content – as it’s currently done by several websites – the content-providers and the ad-industry should finally take the challenge: To view the users not just as a bunch of stupid consumers but take them serious and create new and innovative ways for online-ads that are smarter, less annoying and more efficient. Especially the ‘inter-online’ move from desktop to mobile, from banner to native and from web to apps creates a good possibility to provide an acceptable advertising ‘experience’. It would save not only the ad-industry but beware ‘online’  from the same race to the bottom in terms of quality we all witnessed with television.


Until then, the first thing I download on any new device will be the ad-blocker and I’m glad that in this issue the trend is my friend.

ad-blocker graphics



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *