Channel 4's new-media revenues will undoubtedly grow in the next few years, but based on our five-year business plan, spot airtime will still represent the lion's share of our ad income at over 80 per cent by 2012.
That's a calculated estimate, but we're bound to be wrong. It's impossible to predict the commercial development of digital media. The media industry is talking about the effects of new technology on television, but the reality is that spot airtime continues to be a very effective medium for advertisers and many newer entrants - including Magners Cider, eBay and Innocent.
Technology has given us all the opportunity to access TV programmes whenever and wherever we may be. But how many of us have actually trialled mobile TV or video-on-demand? As an industry, we like to talk about these initiatives and are arguably more likely to use them than most, but we should keep the total numbers in perspective.
Channel 4 recently commissioned some research looking at the importance of pioneers of digital media. These people are the first to experiment with new ways to access music, films, radio and TV. They are predominantly young and very definitely male biased (72 per cent).
Despite the rapid development of new technologies, these pioneers continue to watch as much TV as the average 16- to 54-year-old (more than 90 per cent watch TV every day). Where one does see some marked differences is in the downloading of content. People are still confused with the technology. This will no doubt change with time, but that's the big question. When will the majority of people learn how to use all this new technology? Even the digital pioneers are still learning - for instance, fewer than a quarter of them have ever downloaded a film or TV programme.
The following pages cover video-on-demand, mobile, high-definition television and personal video recorders. In our opinion, these are the four most significant developments affecting "television". We also have a practical review of all the latest technology from Marcus Vinton, who spent a morning at Decipher and their iBurbia studio.
We would say this, but it is a genuinely fascinating and exciting time to be working in media. Channel 4's strategic sales department works directly with advertisers and planners to develop new ideas and, more recently, we have noted a marked increase in the number of briefings we receive. Digital media is giving us an opportunity to answer these briefs with cross-platform options offering deeper and more effective solutions.
We're all learning new ways to use different media and digital media is no exception. For advertisers at the forefront of the new developments, it can be an enlightening experience. We look forward to working closely with advertisers and agencies in the future and hope you'll find Channel 4 to be engaging partners.
C4 STRATEGIC SALES TEAM
Mike Parker, head of strategic sales
Peter Clark, strategic sales manager.