“Nobody counts the number of ads you run; they just remember the impression you make.”

Bill Bernbach

No one knows for sure what the future of advertising holds, but seemingly everyone and their mother has an opinion about it. Without giving every esteemed pundit a voice, the plurality seems to believe survival hinges on it being more targeted and/or personalized to individuals’ tastes and be entertaining enough that it’ll feel less like commercial and more like craveable content. There are others, however, who feel brand advocacy will be largely reliant on influencers, and/or that advertising is destined for the scrapheap.

One thing is for sure—conversations like this weren’t as prevalent twenty years ago, when TiVo was in its infancy and the only smartphone was incapable of playing video. Another thing is for sure is that future of advertising is dependent on how far in the future we’re talking. For the sake of argument, however, we’ll cap the future at 20 years from now: Why? Well, in 2039 tweens who’ve never known life without mobile devices will be in their thirties, and have their own homes and families. They’ll also be part of the largest generation, having long surpassed Millennials (the generation many marketers currently bend over backwards to understand and connect with).

In 2039, thirtysomethings will be watching hour-long dramas and half-hour sitcoms in pieces, if they’re watching them at all. By this time “appointment TV” will be virtually non-existent. Save for sporting events, certain award shows and series finales, most content will be consumed on demand. This generation can’t stomach long-form content the way previous generations could, having been reared on minute-long blasts of video content that YouTube warehouses in infinite supply.

TV programmers will begin airing more bite-sized content to accommodate the ever-minimizing attention spans. Further, commercials will be in the 15-second range and show up intermittingly amid programming, and not in two-minute blocks, similarly to how they do when watching a video segment on Facebook. And, what’s more, they’ll be effective, in part because they’ll be short enough that typical viewers won’t care to bypass them, and entertaining enough that they won’t want to. They’ll also be effective with the advent of artificial intelligence allowing content creators to curate individual program preferences, with targeted ads following suit. There will be lots of game changing dynamics that make way for the future of advertising effectiveness, including the fact that future thirtysomethings will be cool with short ads being peppered throughout all programming—even movies—just as they are now, short enough so as not to be too disruptive, and short enough to have minimal impact to streaming costs (if there even are any 20 years from now).

The long and short of it is if programming adjusts to the behavioral evolutions of content consumption, then advertising will, too.

~ Marketing Workshop