YouTube has now been around for 15 years. Thanks to advances in technology, YouTube is appearing on more TV screens and subtly changing how we perceive television.
In my house, YouTube is another channel. I watch it to see the news of the day and whether there are any new notable videos. I’m not alone. An ad agency exec estimates that about 10 percent of YouTube’s ad buys are for the TV. Whatever the case, most agree that YouTube buys on TV are growing.
There are a few reasons why. One is that the old delineation between TV and real life is disappearing. Just think of the current Covid-19 crisis and how newscasters and talk-show hosts put their suits away and did their jobs from their home offices.
Since its inception, TV was an extension of show business, but there’s an opportunity to get more real-life into TV. One is by changing what shows up on the screen. If viewers get used to YouTube programming on TV, then they will be more accepting of seeing regular people in their everyday clothes on TV.
Though things have been trending this way for a while, a survey last year showed that about a third of U.S. homes have a smart TV that expands their viewing options. I would bet that number has jumped since that survey was taken, but it’s clear that this lockdown has been good for streaming services.
But one maybe unforeseen outcome of this has been a complete lack of TV ad viewing. Maybe I’m in the minority since I don’t have cable, just the internet and apps for my TV. However, people who study the issue say teens are spending a lot more time on YouTube and Netflix
If that’s the case, then I don’t see how younger consumers will sit still for a 30-second ad, especially since few of them are watching programming on traditional TV.
For me, it’s clear that the TV I grew up with is receding. Fewer people are tuning in at 9 pm to see what’s new with their sit-com friends because they know they can catch up with them later.
This is all well and good, but what about the advertising?
I watch few ads these days. Fewer people talk about new ads they saw on TV. TV ads are like plays in the movie age—people still do them, but they’re not the only game in town, like they used to be.
In 2006, McKinsey estimated that a TV ad shown in 2010 would be one-third as effective as one shown in 1990. We can imagine that figure has gone down since then. Think about it: When was the last time you referenced a TV ad in conversation?
TV’s comeback may lie in the ability to tailor advertising. If you sign in to Google on your TV, then it can send you different ads than your neighbor, ones that are suited to your needs.
Until then, we are left with the rickety old TV Industrial Complex, which can be infiltrated by product placement or sponsorships to please advertisers. “I still stand by TV and its gravitas for media moments,” said Meg Piro, head of communications strategy at Johannes Leonardo. “It’s so difficult to shift perception with just digital or social only buys that reach individuals in one-to-one moments.”