Villing & Company

Point/Counterpoint: The End of Advertising

Google "the death of advertising". Go ahead. I think you will find all the gloom and doom predictions interesting. Not that many of them don’t have merit. It’s just the level of negativity I find striking.

In the last week or so, two articles caught my attention. Those of you who are connected with me on social media may recognize them. The first was an article by Michael Wolff entitled "The end of advertising". In it, he predicted that the deal brokered between Dish Network and Disney, which owns ABC, was the death knell of television advertising. Why? Because "finally, a major network has bent to the obvious - people expect to be able to skip ads". He went on to suggest that it was only a matter of time before the other networks capitulate and the TV advertising model will collapse like a house of cards.

The second article was written by Jack Loechner and appeared in MediaPost's Research Brief. Entitled "Traditional TV Viewing Still Way Ahead of Internet and Mobile", and pointed out that 92 percent of the 159 hours consumers spend watching video each month is on TV. It goes on to state "And advertising dollars follow suit: Nielsen research found that $78 billion was spent on TV advertising in 2013, and (by contrast) eMarketer estimates that online video will attract $5.72 billion in 2014".

Now at first blush, one might be inclined to suggest that these two articles are really an apples and oranges perspective. In a way, I would be hard-pressed to disagree. Except for Wolfe’s statement that "people expect to be able to skip ads".

I humbly disagree.

I will concede that opportunities for ad skipping are on the increase. I will concede that some media outlets are in serious jeopardy because of online competition. And I will concede that there are many people who like the subscription model of access to video content. However, I would also contend that people really like FREE.

How many of us gladly choose the free version of an app or free access to content from providers like USA Today? Many people are still more than willing to indulge advertising if it means getting something they want without forking over their own dollars.

If this were not the case, why do the world’s largest and most sophisticated brands still spend a collective $78 billion on TV advertising? These are pretty smart people and I doubt that they would keep their jobs if the advertising world were about to come to an end. To be sure, appointment TV is more easily recorded for later viewing than live programming such as news, sports and special events like the Oscars. But from what I understand, many people don’t even bother skipping the ads on shows they have recorded.

The point of this discussion is not to pretend there aren't profound changes to our profession on the horizon. It’s simply to say the sky doesn't appear to be falling as soon as some people would have us believe.

Filed Under: advertising

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