The Precarious Relationship between ‘Video Technology’ and Advertising

An interesting article popped up in front of the WSJ paywall earlier this week about television and digital content. Imagine my surprise and utter delight when I realized Linda Yaccarino was the author of it. As president of Ad Sales for all of NBCUniversal, she not only has a busy few weeks ahead of her (Upfronts!!!), she also is a Penn State alum (We are!) and has been one of my professional idols for a few years now.

As one of the leaders of the television advertising industry, she has a front-row seat to the developments and changes that have happened upon consumer’s television consumption and watching habits, making her a bit of an expert on the matter at hand: consumers, their viewing habits, and how it’s changed the television landscape. In her article, she proposes the interesting theory that TV has become VT – “video technology.”

What that means, essentially, is that your TV is just another device for you to plug into. Just another device for you to use as to watch content on a streaming platform. I’m even hesitant to call it ‘watching television shows.’ Because what is the definition of a ‘television show’?

What differentiates ‘television’ like New Girl from a ‘Hulu show’ like Resident Advisors. Are they both TV? Or are they, as Yaccarino proposes, all ‘video content’? But, regardless of all this, there is one necessary constant: advertising.

The entire ecosystem of television and digital platforms has been built on the mutual relationship between advertisers and content creators (whether that be network studios or Grace Helbig on YouTube). The latter need money and have people watching, the former have the money and need people watching to buy into whatever product, service or idea they’re selling.

She says that “VT” is the “future of our industry” and she is able to distill the complex idea/debate in to a 600-word article. Basically, it’s much better than any way I could articulate the ideas within the post. I get excited and start rambling on tangents about Nielsen measurement and content creation.

Definitely check out the whole article, Outside Voices: In Defense of TV – It’s Actually ‘VT’

We know there are a few certainties in life: death, taxes and my loyalty to NBC. What or how NBC chooses to reinvent itself next as, you can bet I’ll be ready to jump on board.

Thinking about it now, this transition from television to online platforms doesn’t really feel that different than decades ago, when NBC, CBS and ABC were radio stations. People crowded around a radio in their living rooms to listen. Then they huddled around a television set to watch. Now they’re everywhere. On trains and airplanes, lying in bed and killing time in a café, watching on multiple screens. It certainly is a far cry from ‘the good ole days.’


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