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Two Trends That Are Changing The Nature of Advertising Forever

Jan. 16, 2015
People are consuming more audio and video content specifically selected, on demand. More and more, people watch and listen to precisely what they want, when they want it.

Parked like a potato in front of the television while recovering from a bout with the flu led me to question everything I once knew about advertising.  Things are changing and research backs it up.  Here’s what you must know for the future of your business.

In between coughing, blowing my nose, downing cold medicine, and the occasional nap, I spent 15 miserable hours watching television non-stop.  I didn’t see one commercial.  All 15 hours was from video streamed through Netflix.

Netflix is only one of the streaming video options.  Amazon Prime, Hulu Plus, and HBO Go are just a few of the competitors.  YouTube and a host of other video sites that range from general to subject specific add more options.  Even without the streaming sites, the prevalence of DVRs gives people the ability to record television shows and zap past the commercials.  My wife records everything and watches at her convenience, fast forwarding through ads.

Incredibly, Nielsen reports that about half the people who record TV shows still watch the commercials.  Even if everyone watched commercials and options like Netflix did not exist, television viewership is split among 189 different channels in the average household per Nielsen.

Radio isn’t immune.  At one point, I listened to satellite radio almost exclusively.  Today, that’s been replaced by podcasts and Pandora Internet radio.  When I encounter an ad in a podcast, I skip ahead 30 seconds.  Pandora, on the other hand, makes me suffer through the ads, though I could pay a few dollars (literally, a few dollars) for an ad free version.  Or, I could try one of the many emerging competitors.

Podcasts, which are radio on demand, have taken off.  According to Edison Research and Triton Digital, in early 2014, 39 million Americans listened to a podcast in the last month, up 25% from the prior year.  The proliferation of smart phones, ease of subscribing to podcasts through phone apps, and the increase in quality content is responsible for the jump.

Two significant trends emerge:

  1. People are consuming more audio and video content specifically selected, on demand.  More and more, people watch and listen to precisely what they want, when they want it.
  2. It is becoming much harder for broadcast advertising to find consumers.  People have nearly an infinite number of choices and the ability to avoid advertising if desired. 

While broadcast won’t go away anytime soon, both of these trends are gaining traction.  They are related to the proliferation of yellow page directories and their quick decline.  Contractors loathed the yellow pages when they ruled and cheered their demise, until they considered the need to find a replacement.  Suddenly, advertising for demand service work became much more complex and far less clear cut. 

What replaced the yellow pages?  Paid search?  SEO?  Google Local/Places/Business?  Craig’s List, Angie’s List, or another list?  Anything?

What will replace broadcast media?  The question is simpler than the answer, which like the replacement to the yellow pages will be complex and evolving.

For now, contractors can advertise via Pandora and similar Internet radio sites, targeted to geographic areas the users claimed when they signed up.  For example, I hear ads for Dallas new car dealers when I’m listening to Pandora while working out in the gym of a New York City hotel.  Maybe I should have claimed Muleshoe, TX, so I would get served up fewer ads.

For video, you can create your own content, narrowly focused around information people might want when facing an HVAC problem.  These do not need to be high quality productions if they are informative and address common questions (e.g., “When should I replace my furnace?”  “How long should an air conditioner last?”  “What does it mean when my air conditioner starts and stops every few minutes?”  “Why are some rooms uncomfortable?”).  Host the videos on YouTube and a dozen similar sites.  Link to them through your website, blog, Google Local/Places/Business page, and even a microsite that you create with lots of ties to your local community so that the video appears higher in the search engines for people searching in your area. 

Ultimately, the same trend that inhibits your ability to advertise over the airwaves to prospects, increases the opportunity to broadcast directly to them.  Like the world after yellow pages, it will be unfamiliar territory, uncomfortable, a little frightening, but potentially even more rewarding.  Start now, while the trends are in the early stages and business will move in your direction in the years to come.


For more information about a changing marketplace and how you can get ahead of it, attend one of the Service Nation Alliance’s free “Success By Design” Days.  Call 877.262.3341 for more information.

About the Author

Matt Michel | Chief Executive Officer

Matt Michel was a co-founder and CEO of the Service Roundtable ( The Service Roundtable is an organization founded to help contractors improve their sales, marketing, operations, and profitability. The Service Nation Alliance is a part of this overall organization. Matt was inducted into the Contracting Business HVAC Hall of Fame in 2015. He is now an author and rancher.