ISSN: 1391 - 0531
Sunday, February 25, 2007
Vol. 41 - No 39

Overthrowing TV's tyrannical rule

I fell asleep in front of the TV on a 38-degree day, and had the sweetest dream. I was suddenly in a futuristic world where the liberators of my world had won the "global war on (real) terror (that counts)".

The web worriers at TV-Links, YouTube and Google Videos had overthrown the despotic regime of fixed TV schedules and defeated the terrorizing commercial breaks that haunted the lives of overweight and under stimulated TV viewers for decades. On-demand commercial free video has democratized the absolute and tyrannical rule of television and the people were celebrating the revolution by decorating their living rooms with wireless routers and digital High Definition TVs.

Dreams aside, many people expect on-demand video on the Internet will lead to the demise of commercial television as we know it. Statistics show that in countries where broadband Internet access is widely used, the time that people spend in front of their TVs are declining as they migrate to their computers in search of commercial–free content that they can watch in their own time, rather than the times dictated by TV program schedules.

In fact, the computer as a node of the vast Internet is challenging all forms of mainstream media including TV and radio as well as newspapers and magazines. Even though these media elements do have their subscriber base, they piggy-back mainly on the enormous amount of cash poured into the advertising industry.

In reality, the Internet has only segmented the advertising industry and added new avenues in it – rather than being strangled out of the mighty kingdoms they've built for themselves in TV, radio and the print media. The rise of Google is arguably purely based on its potential as a carrier of sales and marketing information – also known as product advertising. Personally, I would rather expose myself to advertisements that are relevant to my interests and taste and any self-respecting person who has been made to endure the unendurably silly pesticide advertisements would agree I am sure.

The strength of the Internet as an advertising medium lies precisely in the fact that – if the advertisers are smart enough – they can target individuals with specific advertisements according to their preferences.

You no longer have to wonder why Yahoo, MSN, MySpace or Google would provide you with a range of integrated high-quality services for free – because each time you click a link while you are logged into your account, these websites collect specs of data about your preferences which are then used to target specific advertisements to you!

With all the wonders of the internet before us, it will still be too presumptuous to assume that it will obliterate commercial broadcasting and print media of the masses because the latest trend in advertising is to make it, well, less advertorial.

The tendency is to move away from in-your-face ads, where the product is the star, to mini-movies or quasi-documentary vignettes that feature "real-life scenarios" with the product(s) hovering in the background.

One place where this change and paradigm shift is becoming increasingly visible is at the movie theatre. Movies have already painted a world in our minds where Apple Computers have a 50% market share than the actual 5% they have in the real world.

Also noticeable is the fact that the good guys always use brands like Apple and Sony that the bad guys conspicuously don't. In the latest 007 movie Casino Royale, James Bond is not only lethal but he is also sponsored by Sony. Little wonder, because Sony is also the parent company which produced the movie.

All indicators or rational thought will point out that this kind of product placement is and new age advertising models are here to stay and they might as well. But product placement is an advertising strategy that requires healthy doses of subtlety and taste to prevent the advert snapping viewers out of the storyline of a movie for example – killing both the story and the brand image it aims to promote.

Big IT and Media companies like Microsoft and Google are pumping billions of dollars into researching new advertising models and techniques that will stand the demands of flexibility, relevance and subtle tastefulness that is being demanded by its suddenly empowered target audience.

If you have any thoughts or ideas you want to share about new trends in advertising and IT, we would like to hear from you. Write to us at

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Copyright 2007 Wijeya Newspapers Ltd.Colombo. Sri Lanka.