What does TV mean and why does it matter?


In today’s video-centric and platform-agnostic landscape, does the word “TV” really mean the same thing as it used to? From a bulky set in the living room to Netflix and HBO Now, television as we know it has changed dramatically over the past few years.

Back when I was a kid, my mom would ask what I was doing. I would shout back, “I’m watching TV!” Now, when I ask my own kids the same question, their response is completely different. It’s usually, “I’m on the computer,” or “I’m on my iPad,” or “I’m on my phone,” yet I know full well that they are most likely watching a show or video on those devices. They just are describing what they are doing differently.

So if the word “television” is fading and becoming less a part of our vernacular, then why do media folks continue to keep TV separate and on a pedestal? TV drives a tremendous amount of ad dollars and is an incredible branding platform and reach vehicle for brands. However, with its archaic measurement and dwindling live viewership, the time has come to expand upon the ways in which we define TV and think about how and where it fits within the video ecosystem.

There is only one way for the industry to go—and that’s forward. Advanced methods of measurement are being developed on what seems like a daily basis. Precise audience targeting is narrowing in to a household level. It seems that TV has finally reached a tipping point. And it’s about time.

Unlimited viewing options across multiple screens and connection points offer more effective ways to reach consumers than ever before, even as the consumer journey becomes increasingly fragmented. Audiences are no longer elusive and hard to reach when data and analytics are involved. Data has long been the driving force behind digital’s move to programmatic. It is now possible to identify a consumer’s digital footprint and add insights from their TV viewing habits to create a truly 360 degree picture. This may just be the “Holy Grail” of cross-platform measurement and attribution.

As the TV Upfronts continue through May, video buyers and sellers should challenge each other by embracing these new platforms and working together to establish deeper KPIs for their clients, outside of the decades-old demographic confines of age and gender. There are billions of dollars at stake over the next few months. And brands and agencies alike are asking for greater efficiencies, true ROI and the optimization of every dollar. The need to think differently is greater than ever before.

It is true that our industry may be living in the “Golden Age of TV” from a content perspective. But measurement continues to lag far behind. One way to bridge this gap is by rethinking the way we define TV and embracing it as content that can be delivered across multiple screens and devices. After all, that’s how my kids think of television now—and they are certainly not the only ones.