Digital MarketingTV or not TV? That is the question: Insights on World Television Day

TV or not TV? That is the question: Insights on World Television Day

Alex Zakrevsky, CEO of Allroll, reflects on some of the most curious TV-related metamorphoses on the annual World Television Day.

30-second summary:

  • Television has gone through significant transformations since its invention in 1924.
  • TV revolutionized the ideas of unity and entertainment, gaming, advertising, and opportunities for content creators.
  • Linear TV lags behind Connected TV (CTV) in terms of flexibility and targeting options.
  • Earlier this year that there were 400 million CTV devices in the US.
  • As this is almost as much as the number of people living in the country, CTV advertising is understandably a tool most marketers willingly go for.
  • CTV ad spends in the US are expected to reach $11.36 billion in 2021.
  • Performance-based metrics and new engaging formats will boost CTV advertising.

It’s hard to imagine what John Logie Baird, who invented the first TV back in 1924, would say regarding the modern TV landscape.

Would he support cord-cutters or help the Connected TV (CTV) industry consolidate efforts and solve measurement issues, or maybe he would simply binge-watch popular TV shows sitting on his couch?

This World Television Day we reflect on some of the most curious TV-related metamorphoses over the decades.

Milestones in the journey

TV, as a phenomenon, has gone through a number of transformations, from the screen size of a postage stamp and a price tag equal to half of one’s average annual income to every American living room’s feature.

  • The 1950s brought color TV and remote control to life
  • The 1980s introduced VHS, video games, and cable TV
  • A few decades later, revolutionary developments of the 2000s made TV smart, highly dimensional, and in-stream.

In other words, almost as futuristic as the parlor walls described by Ray Bradbury in ‘Fahrenheit 451′ and while television is very different now from what it used to be in the last century, so are the viewers.

Another chicken and egg situation which questions whether people are the reason TV has changed that much, or is it TV that has changed people?

What has TV brought to viewers’ tables?

Here’s what value add TV has brought on various fronts.

1. Unity and entertainment

The sense of integrity is very important for people, as social creatures. When TV first appeared, it made most of its viewers feel like they were suddenly cut from the same cloth.

So, TV hit two birds with one stone. On the one hand, it created a base for sharing interests and, on the other hand, it physically gathered people together in one room glued to the same screen.

Certainly, things started to look distinctive when TV sets flooded households, being installed in as many rooms as one could pay for. Not to mention what digitalization did to people’s screen time.

Nevertheless, Marketing Charts’ figures from 2020 suggest watching TV remains the favorite evening past time for 23% of Americans. 

Traditional TV introduced new frontiers of entertainment, some of which have become a part of the zeitgeist. Digital Connected TV, in turn, offered instant access to round-the-clock fun.

This fueled the growing popularity of binge-watching, the mode of watching TV shows and movies in one go.

Recent figures by Statista showed that most age groups, apart from those aged 65+, binge-watch TV shows on a regular basis.

This year, major cinema premieres and sports competitions have been postponed. Thus, people were left with lots of free time on their hands and the unmet need for entertainment.

No wonder streaming services climbed the charts, as well as the number of subscribers.

From established channels that didn’t rest on their laurels in linear reality and rushed to fit in the new digital space, like National Geographic, Discovery Channel, or CBS, to young creative apps that originated from the TV listings-free era, there are enough channels available today to sink a ship.

What’s more, it’s totally up to viewers now how entertained they want to be, when and by who. Hence, television went from one-size-fits-all entertainment to its tailored version in less than a century, which is genuinely impressive.

2. Gaming

Gaming consoles emerged only a few decades after the first TV had been created. And though the true gaming boom is rooted in the developments of the PC and Internet rather than television, there’s an obvious boost a TV screen can bring to any gaming experience.

In 2020, 92% of young people in the US and UK (Generations Z and Y) are considered gamers, as per GlobalWebIndex. The same age group is known to be a heavy live gaming stream and Esport watchers. 

Despite the fact that mobile phones surpass PCs and TVs among preferred gaming devices, a recent uptick in streaming took the relationships between the TV and gaming worlds to the next level. 

Today, gamers can stream from Xbox One to Windows 10 PCs, or from PlayStation 4 to Windows/macOS and Android devices.

As for PC (Windows/Linux/macOS) games, they can be streamed to Android/iOS smartphones and tablets as well as any TVs that support streaming apps.

With the rising number of CTV gaming apps, it looks like the full gaming potential of TV is yet to be revealed. 

3. Advertising

TV has always been a core advertising platform with the ability to reach wider audiences. It’s not surprising that this kind of promotion has also cost an arm and a leg.

Today, depending on KPIs, brands are inclined to consider digital alternatives. Connected TV (CTV) is rightly among the most appealing ones.

It allows advertisers to release budgeting pressure by offering them to pay for results within the performance-based advertising concept. Furthermore, CTV platforms are where most consumers’ age groups can be reached nowadays anyway.

Leichtman Research Group, Inc. reported earlier this year that there were 400 million Connected TV devices in the US. As this is almost as much as the number of people living in the country, CTV advertising is understandably a tool most marketers willingly go for.

4. Opportunities for creators/publishers

In the olden days, creating a TV channel was a really big deal. It required solid investments, relevant connections, a team of professionals, and a clear business vision.

Modern-day channels march to a completely different drummer. Each pillar of the Connected TV channel ownership, such as creating content, launching an app, monitoring its performance, and fiddling with monetization, can be outsourced. If not all of them.

Take, for instance, a Roku channel. To make it gain plenty of installs, it’s worth referring to Roku Direct Publisher or Allroll. Their granular targeting options, cost-effective promotional techniques, and broad analytical instruments will help the channel hit the jackpot in the blink of an eye.

Ultimately, eMarketer predicts the reduction of Connected TV CPMs due to the significant surge of supply. Bearing in mind, advertisers in the US are expected to spend around $11.36 billion on CTV ads in 2021, owning a CTV channel sounds like a brilliant timely idea.

What’s next in the world of TV/CTV?

Let’s look into the current affinity for CTV and OTT advertising, ad spend budgets and publishing opportunities in 2021.

1. For CTV/OTT advertisers

Since digital Сonnected TV gained popularity among viewers, especially younger generations, according to Nielsen, ad spend followed the trend.

In 2020, IAB reported a 19% increase in CTV ads budgets and a 24% decrease in those of Traditional TV.

Although Linear TV remains a powerful advertising platform, it lags behind CTV in terms of flexibility, targeting options, and advanced cost-effectiveness.

So, despite a certain degree of measurement confusion, advertisers tend to lean towards CTV in their current and future strategies. 

Regarding ad formats, there is a strengthening focus in CTV on TV-to-Mobile elements, non-disruptive pausable, and responsive shoppable video ads.

These are likely to be followed by further adoption of new formats, which have already created a stir among other digital channels, like rewarded ads and 3D swirl, or Virtual reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR).

In 2021, performance-based advertising will continue to lead the game in CTV, supported by Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning for enhanced measurement options, optimization, and prediction.

And though performance metrics might remain to be built around awareness, engagement, and sales, experiments with new formats, time frames, landing pages, and cross-channel attribution will give a fresh perspective on the advertising experience.

2. For CTV/OTT publishers

Whilst adhering to shifts in viewing habits, more and more publishers favor Connected TV. With the market’s entry barriers being lower than ever, the CTV landscape looks like a bonanza for creators and channel owners.

Thus, new channels are expected to keep on springing up, like mushrooms after the rain. This will inevitably make the competition between CTV publishers even stronger, and the demand for original creative content even higher. 

The future undoubtedly holds hyper-personalized content, powered by the advancements of AI data mining, consumer-centric algorithms, seasoned with a pinch of interactivity and immersion.

Hence, user-generated content, Ultra-High Definition (4K) TVs, as well as further integrations with the emerging Internet of Things’ sensors, are likely to disrupt the TV routine and grab consumers’ attention at least in the medium-term.

As for the actual categories, Nielsen states that SVOD (subscription video on demand) and AVOD (ad-supported video on demand) will continue to stay on the rise, outplaying TVOD (transactional video on demand) or BVOD (broadcaster video on demand). 


It’s incredible what a breakthrough TV has made, turning from an avant-garde technological innovation of the 20th century to a supplier of every imaginable (and unimaginable too) entertainment of the 21st century.

A source of information, place of gathering, means of having fun, and on many occasions all the above-mentioned simultaneously, TV has proved to be one of the most resilient industries, ready to adjust, evolve, pioneer, and even rise from the ashes if needed.

By being a powerful medium, TV has also revolutionized the way brands communicate with customers, offering them a robust shortcut to their target audiences.

Since TV is determined to save its position as the main source of entertainment, it has no choice but to become less fragmented as an industry, keep up with ever-changing viewers’ expectations and take a sneak peek at those outside the TV landscape, scouting for consumers’ time.

This will guarantee that once the experiential economy makes another move to challenge the common order of things, the TV will have all the necessary resources to reinvent itself again, like a phoenix. 

Alex Zakrevsky is the CEO of Allroll marketing platform for CTV/OTT channel owners. Alex is an innovator, product lover, CTV, and programmatic enthusiast.

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