MoffettNathanson: Digital to overtake television in 2017

It’s a bold prediction, but Michael Nathanson of MoffettNathanson, a top media research firm, has come out saying that in 2017, the money spent on online advertising will eclipse that of television advertising.  I think that’s a little too soon, but then again, Nathanson has been talking to ad execs, brand managers, and top TV people.

There are several things that are pushing this forward.  One is that advertisers like to reach the young.  And the young are increasingly choosing digital over television.  Whether it is on a laptop, a tablet or a smart phone, young people see social media platforms such as  Snapchat, Facebook, and Twitter as must haves.

A second is the maturation of online video as the willingness of people to watch long form as opposed to getting stuck on 30 second spots.  While this could mean a bonanza for YouTube, it also means that brands can tell their stories more thoroughly, providing that the marketing messages is more authentic and relevant to the mindset of the viewr.  As Cecilia Kang of the Washington Post points out, “There is an increasing belief among advertisers that selling their messages on TV is a blunt instrument compared to the precision of online targeted ads.

She also points out the other side of the story:  in August, cable TV ratings were down a whole 9%.  A total of 566,000 canceled their cable subscriptions for the second quarter of 2015.  This, combined with a changing cross-demographic media consumption culture geared toward digital may well prove Nathanson right and me wrong.

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