The classic future sell is an age-old marketing trick. When your compelling solution is not quite ready, sell the future.
Remember the early days of mobile phones, when companies would run ads of happy people working with laptops and phones on tropical beaches with the tagline, “In the future you will be able to work from anywhere?” Ironically, in the ’90s, this was a utopian vision. But the message was a classic future sell at the time.
Back then, mobile signals and internet access were just not fast enough to truly and efficiently work outside of an office. So, to make mobile phones seem sexy, companies talked about what was to come.
Fast-forward to the burgeoning world of over-the-top video, where convergence through streaming has very much arrived. We are seeing an interesting future-selling phenomenon here, too, where several leading players, such as Amazon, Netflix, Google and the telcos, are now moving aggressively inside the OTT space. AT&T has announced the rollout of a promising new platform, Xandr, and Disney has expressed ambitious OTT plans of its own. But the reality is that the comprehensive solutions across the OTT and connected-TV ecosystem they describe, while exciting, aren’t quite here yet.
Disruption Takes Time
Simply put, it takes time to implement market-changing strategies. But because the AT&Ts, Disneys and Amazons of the world tend to garner outsized media attention — understandably so — the notion of OTT/CTV as a future sell has taken hold in many people’s minds.
It’s a great example of a perception that is not reality. It ignores the powerful, impactful things that advertisers are doing right now at national scale within the OTT space.
Today, on platforms like Hulu, Roku and TV network apps including CBS All Access, NBC, ABC, Fox Now and many others, marketers are running personalized, engageable and targeted TV ads at full scale; these enhanced ad experiences have reached 70 million homes.
There will always be future-selling, but the ramp-up in OTT ad inventory and continued growth in TV streaming means the present is also totally compelling. All major broadcast and cable networks are now on board with streaming as the primary new delivery vehicle for TV. And the new TV experience means superior viewing opportunities for consumers involving personalized ads, voice navigation and a truly seamless “everywhere” experience at scale. It also means nationally scalable household addressable targeting for marketers in TV, beyond the local ad buys available up until now. And finally, it means nationally scalable enhanced brand experiences that match the personalization and interactivity of the TV experience itself.
Most exciting in all that has changed about TV is the industry’s embrace of connected TV and the universal commitment to providing more of the amazing things we can do now. Hulu, Netflix, Amazon Prime and Roku are showing us the magic of the new ways streaming TV content can be consumed. And it has unleashed a torrent of change in media, tech and advertising to reflect viewers’ woke habits.
So, really, future sell or no future sell, the future has arrived. It’s here, it’s real and it’s exciting. The bold strategies being rolled out by the biggest players will only accentuate the transformation that has already occurred.
Jacqueline Corbelli is founder, chair and CEO of BrightLine. She can be followed on Twitter at @JCITV.