Television is not dead - it has simply morphed to a innovative mode where new talent, stories, and content is bubbling up from the more fertile primordial ooze of visual media - YouTube. Unless you have been paying attention to YouTube - which no self respecting executive admits to watching - you may have missed the fact that entire new "shows" are being birthed for categories as varied as cooking chili con carne, to Chile. And as a recent New York Time article points out, there is real advertising happening at a level sufficient to provide a living for these fledgling stars.
Who cares? Well, every product or service should care because my prediction is that every product and service will have its own "channel" populated by consumers or experts that have passion for the subject. In research I performed over ten years ago, I found that as customers learned more about a product or service they were more likely to buy more and more profitable products and services. Likewise, those firms who have great spokespeople to engage, explain and showcase their products can win attention from consumers - especially in these down markets, and in stores who rarely have salespeople who know anything about the things they are selling.
We have historical precedent for such an opportunity. In the early days of TV from the Coke Hour to Soap Operas to Hallmark Theater, firms sponsored content because great brands have known that creating new, engaging media can be a powerful method to drive brands. However, during the cable TV revolution, most companies missed the boat. Few if any food companies had anything to do with the "food network" until it was already large. A tiny Texas based media company (AHC) created it.
Today, it seems that the major brands are staying away from this new set of YouTube stars and content. A little known woman Lauren Luke from South Shields England puts on make-up and has over 139,000 subscribers, and over 3 million channel views. A prime time cable TV channel has about a million viewers, so depending on how you count it, she may be bigger than such a media property already, and in a report on her the BBC says she may be the most famous makeup artist in the world. Expert Village is an entire cadre of budding stars who want to tell you how to do everything from playing a guitar to wrapping a package.
So, as your company is looking for ways to create demand - while spending less money - it is time to turn to the emerging world of customers and "natural" spokespeople. Your traditional star making machinery, or ad company is unlikely to find these new talents, but if you follow the emerging passion for your service or product, you may just find a new way to engage your audience cheaply and effectively. Also, remember that the future of TV is to be everywhere - on your phone, in your home, in your car and in the store - so now is the time to create a capacity to bubble up new, fresh content, regularly and organically.