Effective measurement is one of the key challenges faced by the TV ad industry, but moves towards mass addressability will play a key role in its future, says Matt Hill of UK commercial broadcasters marketing body Thinkbox.
What are the latest trends in the ad industry?
In recent years there has been a trend towards short-termism – advertisers chasing short-term sales. This has been understandable given the economic pressures businesses are under. However, it is now widely understood that this has been bad news; it has led to a decline in the overall effectiveness of advertising.
The industry urgently needs to re-balance its approach and shift the focus back towards the longer-term brand building activity that drives sustainable growth. TV advertising can be used for both, but it is sometimes pigeon-holed as a brand-builder, so we’re working to ensure that TV’s role at every stage of the marketing funnel is better understood, so advertisers can get even more from it.
The impact of GDPR is starting to have an impact on data-based targeting and cookies, so long a mainstay of online advertising, are becoming less useful. First-party data – data given directly by individuals – is, therefore, becoming even more valuable, with geographic and postcode targeting more common. This is good news for TV as the broadcasters are sitting on a goldmine of willingly-given first part data.
And there has been a shift to greater media agency accountability and transparency, helped by things such as the new ISBA contract.
Advertisers want to know where their money is going and why – understandably given the recent uncovering of massive ad fraud online and brand safety scandals with the likes of YouTube and Facebook.
As more content moves to OTT platforms what challenges does this present?
The first is measurement. We don’t yet have a single source of measuring different forms of TV, let alone all video. This is needed because there can be a lot of hype.
Thinkbox does an annual analysis of the video world, so we have a good estimate of how much time people are spending where. For example, broadcaster TV accounts for 69% of all video viewing in the UK. The SVODs like Amazon and Netflix collectively account for 9%. The picture is far different when you look at video advertising time – which is what advertisers care more about. Here broadcaster TV accounts for 95% and the SVODs account for none.
The second challenge is linked to measurement: we need to ensure advertisers make the correct budget allocation for optimal total TV reach. TV is no longer about live viewing, as everyone knows. Viewing has been re-distributed across live and on-demand. Broadcaster on demand has come of age. It is a mass medium with 17 million viewers a week, so it is now a fundamental part of TV advertising.
Measurement discussions are ongoing – watch this space. But the best advice is for advertisers to work closely with their agencies and use tools such as the IPA’s Touchpoints channel planner to determine optimum splits.
You’ve done research into ad length – what is the sweet spot? How does this vary by platform?
Sadly there is no sweet spot. It is horses for courses because the optimal ad length is dependent on the marketing objective. A short ad can be effective at basic activation or acting as a priming message. But longer ads are needed for more complex messaging or building an emotive effect.
The role of the platform is all about its ability to capture viewers’ attention for different ad lengths. TV, because it such an immersive experience and only charges for ads watched at normal speed can accommodate all ad lengths.
What new technologies do you think are key to the future of TV advertising?
TV advertising’s future is already here, the technology is in place, but it just isn’t yet everywhere. But we are building towards mass addressability, which will play a key role in its future, and when TV gets there the possibilities for advertisers will be amazing.
What role will addressable ads play in the future?
The same as now: they are an excellent way into TV for SMEs (Sky AdSmart has attracted 1,000 brands on to TV for the first time); they are good for activation messaging with tightly defined audiences, and they play an increasingly important role in building cost-effective reach.
What are the key ways to assess the effectiveness of TV advertising?
There are more straightforward ways, such as looking at the direct effect on web traffic, on branded online search, on Google trends. But to get a fuller picture – especially as TV often doesn’t get the full credit it deserves because it has such wide-ranging effects – econometric modelling is important, unpicking TV’s specific impact. It is also vital to measure all advertising’s impact on longer-term brand health.
With people consuming more content than ever, what opportunities does this open up for the broadcast sector and advertising?
It is the age of television and more people are certainly viewing more content. But not all of this content is funded by advertising. So, from an advertising perspective, the challenge is about building cost-effective reach in the right environments. The commercial broadcasters are meeting this challenge.