Lawyers who have advertised on TV for a long time have noticed that it’s not working as well as it used to, and many lawyers have asked me why TV advertising is not what it used to be.
I see some similarities between TV advertising to the Yellow Pages.
When the Yellow Pages worked well, it was the only yellow book. Then there were many.
Years ago, there were up to six network channels that were commonly watched. Most of the lawyer advertising was on just one or two TV channels. Some TV shows had almost nothing but TV commercials for lawyers on Jerry Springer.
Now, besides the networks, there are approximately 1,000 TV channels and numerous sources for streaming TV or video content from the internet, such as Netflix, Amazon, YouTube, and others. Other distractions from TV are video games, VR headsets such as Meta Quest (formerly Occulus), and the Metaverse, which are taking younger people away from the TV.
Just like the Yellow Pages, TV shows and TV networks have to deal with increasing overhead costs and decreasing viewership. This has led to shorter seasons for original content and, thus, more repeats.
Even worse, viewership for commercials is decreasing faster than for TV shows because many viewers can now skip commercials.
The CBS Sunday Morning Show said on Sept 27, 2015, that Nielsen found that 86% of TV viewers still watch the old-fashioned way. However, that means 14% are watching with the ability to avoid seeing commercials. This number will likely increase and level off somewhere. That means your TV advertising dollar is now worth less, at least by 14%.
Dish Network’s video recording device, the Hopper, allows viewers to completely eliminate commercials instead of fast-forwarding like other devices. Aero is a discount TV subscription service that allows people to watch broadcast TV on the Internet. Aero allows recording to a remote DVR and likely allows fast-forwarding through commercials.
The Daily Mail stated that an estimated 15%-20% of television viewers often fast-forward through the commercials. With the cost of the commercials going up and results going down, many lawyers and other advertisers are left wondering if it’s still worthwhile to advertise on TV.
For some advertisers which are content to just brand a logo, new commercials are being produced with a design that can be watched up to 12 times normal speed so that viewers who fast forward through the commercials will still see the logo.
Additionally, other venues, such as video games, have become a serious distraction from TV shows. Regarding Pizza Hut’s attempt to reach consumers in a new way with an app on Xbox Live, Paul Tassi at Forbes wrote, “With commercials skippable on TV and ads blockable on the internet, it can be hard to break through to tech-loaded consumers these days.”
The problem has become so serious and imminent that at least two broadcast networks, NBC and FOX, have considered changing from a free over-the-air network to a cable network because of the difficulty of making money with the onslaught of emerging technology. The future could have all broadcast networks becoming paid cable networks. Reuters provided a good summary of the changing broadcast TV model.
Netflix created history by creating TV content on a streaming platform and immediately brought more competitors to the scene. It was the first time that a company created TV content that completely bypasses television networks and cable operators.
Not to be outdone, Amazon scrambled to enter the field of original TV programming to compete with Netflix. Microsoft acquired exclusive rights to an independent movie and will be providing TV content for its Xbox Live platform.
But wait, there’s more! The emerging technology has even changed viewing habits. Many viewers now “binge” watch entire TV seasons at one time, causing them to spend even more time on streaming platforms, away from traditional TV. Netflix noticed the change in viewing habits, and their series “House of Cards” was the first major TV series to release an entire season of 13 episodes all at one time.
Large advertisers like Fortune 500 companies will have to rethink strategies and methods, such as designing commercials that can still have some impact while fast-forwarding through the commercial, finding new venues like Xbox, social media, viral videos, and even advertising in the Metaverse.
Advertising in the Metaverse will likely mirror advertising in the real world. Even in-person marketing could be done in the Metaverse using AI.
Smaller advertisers like lawyers will also have to rethink strategies and methods but will likely include different strategies such as social media or targeting a niche with “old-time” conventional face-to-face marketing methods. For my law firm, I targeted a niche group and developed a sophisticated traditional in-person marketing campaign.
Believe it or not, yellow-page books are still around in 2022. I don’t know if they will completely disappear, but traditional TV is likely to stick around. It may transform from a flat screen to holographic TV, but it will still exist. The broadcast (network) TV channels will just get a smaller share of viewer time.