Monday, August 04, 2008

The Way That They’re Looking Ahead, The End Is Near.

Four of cable’s most brilliant thinkers gathered recently to discuss the future of cable. You can read what they had to say here.

What I found interesting was that while there was a lot of talk about data and accountability and standardization, the word “respect” was only mentioned once.

And, in the case where the word was actually used, it was in reference to respecting a user’s privacy.

Nothing about respecting the fact that users no longer will accept advertising that intrudes on their programs. Or, forces them to watch an advertisement about a product that they’re not the least bit interested in.

In that regard, it seemed as if the cable companies themselves were showing a certain lack of respect.

On the bright side, the word “partnership” was used in the discussion. Unfortunately, it was only in reference to partnering with other cable companies, as in the Canoe Ventures project.

Where was the talk about partnering with viewers?

The question comes down to this. Is the primary responsibility of a delivery platform to serve advertisers or to serve viewers? In the linear world, the answer was simple.

Advertisers.

But in the digital world, we need to re-think the way that advertising is delivered so that it is about serving viewers first. That’s the MindChange that needs to take place among cable operators.

Can it happen?

Perhaps. But only if it is demanded by advertisers. They will need to lead the way by practicing what I call “Servant-Leader Marketing.” In other words, leading by serving the needs of those that they lead—i.e. their customers.

As most of the cable platforms are designed to serve the needs of advertisers first, viewers are flocking to the digital platforms that show them the respect they deserve.

If VOD is going to be successful, cable operators need to know who they’re working for – advertisers or viewers.

How they answer that question will determine how quickly VOD will prosper.

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