Theres been quite a bit of discussion this year about the the traditionally dominant TV industry losing some of its advertising spend in favour of other channels that continue to grow, such as outdoor, experiential and, of course, online.

I was curious to find out what Australias marketing community thought about this, so we asked, and you guys answered.

The results are in, and the once mighty TVs ad pulling power looks to be a little shaky in the face of new spending options.

A staunch 21 percent of you are loyal to the medium that continues to deliver the largest number of mass eyeballs, but a larger percentage are at the other end of the spectrum entirely.

27 percent of you have boldly declared the TVC dead. But the remaining 52 percent voted that we still have a few years of ad-skipping yet to come. The message is that whether the viewers really care about that big ad youve produced or not, the industry isnt ready to write off the television just yet.

A shrinking market?

According to research released by Free TV, the industry association for free-to-air TV Australia, in late July, the metropolitan television advertising market shrank more than 15 percent compared with the previous six months in the first half of 2008. The Free TV research highlighted a 1.4 percent fall in Sydney and Crikey reported that radio was also feeling the squeeze in the harbour city:

Radio Network revealed last Friday that radio ad revenues in the Sydney
metro market had fallen 1.17% in the year to June in downgrading
earnings by 15% to 20%.

All this came off the back of the announcement in June by Channel Ten that a sharp pullback in demand would cut its television earnings by 10 percent this year.

Of course, the media buyers were quick to downplay the revenue wranglings from Nick Falloon and Channel Ten – makes sense really doesnt it – and Harold Mitchell led the charge, saying We havent seen any signs of external pressures as indicated by Channel Ten, and the market is still growing.

But industry analysts since have not been quite as bullish as Mitchell, with some even predicting the figures released by Free TV in July.

Andrew Anagnostellis of Deutsche Bank forecast that metropolitan TV advertising spending would rise 1.2 percent this year, compared with 7.6 percent last year, and Free TVs figures dont even suggest that level of growth in 2008.

So what does the future look like for TV?

Lets not kid ourselves – the TVC still has a powerful hold over a mass audience, and there is still great TV creative coming out of Australia. My question though, is how much longer can we continue to sell the idea of a mass audience to advertisers, when the conversation has shifted far more towards the benefits of accessing a highly-targeted audience?

Weve been talking about media fragmentation for years, but its worth pointing out that with TiVo entering Australia, the launch of dedicated 24-hour HD channels through Foxtel, and the introduction of the iPhone into Australia, the very idea of a mass audience being targeted has become quite laughable anyway.

Ive all but given up watching television anyway. Aside from the occasional doco, I am now watching almost nothing but TED talks. The ideas discussed in those are really worth switching on for.