Wednesday, November 14, 2007

FOT: Future of Television

Digital Media Wire, New York University and Consumer Electronics Association co-hosted Future of Television NYC conference at Museum of Jewish Heritage, November 8 & 9. I had time for one panel and one keynote the last day. Did I get bang for my buck. Both were straight ahead and live & direct. In other words, all involved spoke in the affirmative that advertising dollars are to be earned. Warner Bros.' Television Group President Bruce Rosenbloom suggested that the ad industry use the expression ETC (electronically transmitted content) to open minds to the vast opportunity. ETC included TV, iPod, mobile phones, cable TV, PCs and IPTV. Using "Field of Dreams" thinking, if you produce appealing content, the audience will come. If there's an audience, the advertiser has a sales platform. For the advertiser it's wonderful; for the consumer, there's no way out of commercial-free content unless you're willing to donate.

Rosenbloom kept his cheerful ad game face and energy up 200 degrees for his one-hour keynote. He reminded the audience that Warner Bros' content broadcasts across the five TV networks. America's top shows on NBC, ABC and CBS are Warner Bros properties. The quick stream of show clips tacitly underscored Warner Bros win-win situation. You don't like WB or CW? Don't sweat it; we have shows on other networks you may want to buy time. He referred to branded channels, animation and music as advertising opportunities. Rosenbloom's game face didn't fade a bit when asked about the striking TV writers. He said, "There's enough script to go through February 2008...thereafter, they could show reruns."

The conference production was as informative as the speakers. Gone were the microphones in the aisles to amplify audience members' voices. Rather, people sent text messages that were queued and displayed on a smaller screen on the stage. The moderators periodically fielded the questions. This provided an immediate, interactive air to the proceedings. The big screen, center foreground, showed dazzling feats of advertising ingenuity. The panel for The Future of Television Advertising included Barry Frey, SVP for Cablevision Advanced Platforms, Rick Mandler, Digital Media Advertising VP for Disney/ABC Media Networks, Michael Yudin, managing director for Carat Entertainment & president of MY Entertainment, Scott Ferris, SVP & GM for Microsoft, and Victor Siegel, CEO for Blue Frog Media. The panelists used cable TV to produce branded entertainment or branded channels. What is a branded channel" It's a cable channel that airs content for a particular business-say SONY. Branded content are programs that include a company's product in the storyline or the business' name is part of the title. Case in point Carat Entertainment has a casino show whose title included razor blade manufacturer, Schick.

Panel members showed examples interactivity with content and product. Cablevision has stations such as SONY Bravia TV that engage in two-way conversations with the consumer. For example some shows ask viewers "to choose your ending." Rick Mandler, Scott Ferris and Barry Frey discussed measurement methods. Mandler said Disney/ABC Media Networks were investigating the means to gage influence in purchase within a person's social network. Imagine, advertisers figuring out the number of Friends one MySpace member has and determining the extent to which his enthusiasm or dislike of a product had his Friends buy or avoid that product. Cablevision's Frey discussed measuring viewer behavior from the fast forwards, rewinds, plays and zooms done from the cable set up box. If they're able to pull that off, it's good-bye to Neilson boxes.

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