The language of media has been shifting for years. The way we described our consumption of sitcoms, music, and news was defined by the way we would consume them: watching television, listening to the radio, reading the paper. Now, while we're doing many of the same activities, the language has changed because our devices have changed. We watch Game of Thrones (on a television via cable? on a tablet via HBOGo?), listen to Nicki Minaj (on terrestrial radio? satellite radio? Spotify?), and read the New Yorker (the print magazine? on their website?). This reflects media's key transition to digital.

This shift to digital is making an increasingly large impact on television. The ability to 'unbundle' television services is closer to becoming a reality as both HBO and CBS recently announced standalone internet streaming services for their networks. This an expected shift as networks respond to the a changing media landscape where cable subscriptions are decreasing while internet continues to take top priority. While digital has shaped the language of media and is altering the consumption of television, it will now begin to shape television advertising. This week, AdWeek reviewed four ways in which this transition is likely to occur:

  1. Audience buying

    We've always bought shows and channels as a proxy to people, but now we can merely buy against audiences. What may start out as buying loose demographics could soon become tighter addressable TV-like solutions where you buy a household. Layer in more data like payment data, behavioral data and search history, and we could see a move toward super-targeted ads at home.

  2. Connected calls to action

    The campaign architecture for TV ads has for the last few years been to drive traffic to a website or to a "like" on Facebook. When TV ads are connected to the internet, we could see a whole new range of calls to action; from the boring "follow X brand on Twitter" to "add to Amazon basket," or even more engaging things like adding a location to Google maps or downloading a mobile voucher.

  3. Flow advertising

    We've always thought about integrated campaigns as campaigns that look the same and make sense across different media. When we have platforms like Facebook's Atlas that allow cross-device advertising, we can start to think of campaigns as seamless communications across devices, that work together to tell a story and change behavior. When TV, mobile, tablet and desktop all become potential screens that act together, we can imagine refocusing campaigns around the notion of moving people from upper- to lower-funnel activities and then closing the loop with a purchase.

  4. Personalized advertising

    Ads that are served at a local level by your settop box are positioned perfectly for ads that are served and made in real time, based on hyper-local and personal information. At its most simple, ice-cream ads can be shown when it's hot, or ads for luxury items on days the stock market performs well -- but what's more powerful is the notion of ads served out to your household on an individual basis. Real-time special offers, showing local stores, or ads for products that remain stuck in your Amazon wish list.

For advertisers, this all provides a greater ability to customize and target messaging. For consumers, it may mean more relevant television advertisements, but they come with additional privacy concerns. All of these opportunities are likely to roll out in the coming months and years, but we know for sure that the future of television is digital.