The bleak imaginary future of TV advertising

The bleak imaginary future of TV advertising


Sixty years ago on Tuesday the UK aired its first TV commercial.

Gibbs SR Toothpaste brand flaunted its wares on ITV on 22nd September 1955. And TV was never the same again.

While looking into this anniversary we discovered that Campaign Magazine had brought some industry experts for a bit of crystal ball gazing to determine the future of TV advertising.

And it’s a bit bleak.

Their ideas capture the creative thrill of near limitless possibilities brought to the table by increased personalisation and CGI. Not to mention the drones. Did we mention the drones? There’ll be drones.

What’s less exciting is the “LET’S USE EVERYTHING” approach that many seem to be taking with tech in the future.

It’s fun to imagine a future where everything is a bit more Futurama and a bit less now. Tech everywhere, shiny surfaces, flying ads. It’s a good picture.

But if the rise of ad blockers has taught us anything is that it’s not fun to live in that imaginary future.

So what will it be like?

This is what one of Campaign’s contributor’s envisions:

“Every surface will become a screen. The walls, the pavement, the ceiling. We won’t be able to look without seeing a moving image. We’ll look out of a plane window and there will be a film playing on the clouds. We’ll open a biscuit tin and there will be an ad playing on the inside of the lid.”

Technology should be used to make advertising better, not more difficult to avoid. Studies have shown numerous times that people don’t mind good advertising.

And while it’s pleasing to imagine a screen in a biscuit tin, what’s less pleasing is the task of imagining something worthwhile for a biscuit tin to say.

Why is that so bad?

In an ideal world every single advert on every single platform would be engaging, worthwhile and perfectly suited to its audience.

Unfortunately as things stand, bad ads can mean a blanket block on all ads thanks to increasingly popular browser software. So popular that it’ll soon be blocking on phones too.

Is the answer to that problem simply to jump from screens altogether and run screaming after our audiences down the street? Or on it, as the case may be.

Please no. It can’t be.

Let’s end with a shred of sanity, also from Campaign’s predictions:

“Perhaps we’ll have see-through actors jumping about our living rooms, but they will have to do it with some wit or excitement – otherwise, who cares? Technology for technology’s sake is poor. “



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