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ITV’s advertising strategy focused on deeper client and agency partnerships, business outcomes and addressable TV

ITV Hub - where ITV is now focusing its addressable TV efforts
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ITV has been outlining its future advertising strategy and it includes a promise to engage more with agencies and also work more directly with clients – ideally with the agency in the same room. The company is de-prioritising broadcast linear addressable TV after its test-and-learn initiative with Sorenson Media hit the buffers, and all addressable efforts are currently focused on ITV Hub, the broadcaster’s streaming service. Enabled by existing targeting capabilities on ITV Hub, the company is going to pursue the small-medium enterprise market, believing it can bring new advertisers to TV, including companies who currently advertise on Facebook. Bakers and florists are good examples of the kinds of potential advertiser the UK broadcaster will be chasing.

Perhaps most significantly, and probably taking onboard what brand executives say they like about Google and Facebook, ITV is determined that it will evolve “from being a media partner to a valuable business partner”. Jason Spencer, Business Development Director at ITV, says investments in data and tech and the current restructuring of agency/client facing teams means the broadcaster will be able to have new types of conversations. “We will be talking about outcomes and working with clients and agency partners to see how we can drive the bottom line for a business.”

Speaking at Future TV Advertising Forum Manchester this week, Spencer revealed that ITV will invest to ensure it has “more bandwidth” for working with agency planners, too. “Planners seem to have less time than ever [to do their job]. It does strike me that agency planners are under relentless pressure. Anything that broadcasters like ITV can do to support them is good.”

Referring to research by Enders Analysis that was outlined at the same conference, and which highlighted the challenges for senior marketers at brands, including short-term corporate goals and lack of board representation, Spencer declared: “We need to support marketers more.” He added: “There is a generation of marketers coming through who are more digital-first and there is a big job for us, Channel 4 and Sky (the three largest television ad-sales houses in the UK) to help educate them about the power of TV.”

There is no sign that ITV is going to provide broadcast addressable TV anytime soon. ITV did not explicitly rule out a deal with Sky to get onboard its AdSmart targeting platform (as Channel 5 has) but what Spencer did say was telling: “The choices are either to invest in technology or build it ourselves, so we are looking at the options around those.” Spencer told the audience, which contained a large number of advertising clients and agencies from across the northern regions of the UK, that ITV has serious intentions in the ad-tech market: the company bid for Videology before it was sold to Singtel-owned Amobee, for example.

Spencer believes TV is currently being taken for granted as a medium and hailed the ongoing innovation in the industry and the attractiveness of the product offered to consumers. He also wanted this on the record: audiences are not down at ITV. “Audiences have not left ITV, but they are watching in different ways, like across the [ITV] Hub.”

ITV Hub now has 27 million users, generating basic demographic and geographic data (via user registration and sign-ins) to drive targeting. Notably, 75% of all 16-24 year-olds in the UK are registered to use the service. This impressive figure has been helped by the huge success of ‘Love Island’, the powerhouse reality TV contest that stretched over weeks during the summer and draws a strong youth and streaming/on-demand following. ITV Hub is now available on 33 platforms to ensure wide reach, and the service includes live/linear as well as catch-up content.

Demonstrating how the confidence has returned to the broadcast industry in the UK, partly driven by its own ongoing transformation and the increasing evidence that we have passed the high-water mark for pro-digital sentiment on the buy-side, Spencer suggested that commercial TV should take a “sunny-side up” view of life. “There is a huge amount of evidence for the power of TV and we have been too defensive for too long. There are a lot of reasons to be cheerful.”

One of the reasons to be cheerful is the influx of digital brands to television, as advertisers. “We have seen a seismic shift – emerging brands that did not exist 5-10 years ago who see the power of TV advertising. They are driving website visits or other immediate response from campaigns and building brands in the medium and long-term.”

He picked up on the short-term objectives of some TV campaigns. In a view echoed elsewhere at the Manchester conference, Spencer declared: “We need to bang the drum about the short-term effectiveness of this media. We often talk about brand building and long-term effectiveness. We should also focus on the short-term uplift from TV advertising.”

Spencer reiterated the new three-pronged strategy that ITV revealed this summer under the banner of ‘More than TV’. It means combining mass-reach television with more targeting to provide what he calls the best of both worlds, and the expansion of creative brand partnerships. The third element focuses on how ITV can create a stronger emotional connection between itself, brands and the nation as the means to drive behavioural change and action.

Spencer highlighted ITV’s campaign to raise awareness about male suicide as an example. Called Project 84 to reflect the 84 men who kill themselves in Britain every week, this initiative ran across ITV shows and even featured 84 real-life sculptures, representing real people, standing on top of ITV studio buildings. You can see how chillingly poignant that was, here. ITV worked with the male suicide prevention charity CALM on this project and was supported by the male grooming brand Harry’s.


Interested in the future of TV advertising?

Then check out Future TV Advertising Forum London, December 5-6, where leaders from some of the world’s biggest broadcasters, Pay TV operators, agencies and brand owners will discuss their vision for TV advertising. We are debating whether the marketing industry is sleepwalking towards a brand-health crisis and exploring all the immediate and mid-term solutions that can make TV advertising more effective and more compelling as a medium.

The role of audience-based buying and broadcaster collaboration is investigated, and there is a focus on how we enable ‘whole-market’ addressable TV. We are also looking at how the industry proves outcomes and audiences, and how advertisers reach consumers across the increasingly diverse premium digital video landscape.

Full conference details here

Full speaker list here

FTVA 18 London speakers include:

  • Linda Yaccarino, Chairman, Advertising and Client Partnerships, NBCUniversal
  • Josh Krichefski, CEO, MediaCom
  • James Seckel, Director of Media EMEA, Expedia Group
  • Stephen Van Rooyen, CEO, UK and Ireland, Sky
  • Dominic Grainger, CEO, EMEA, GroupM
  • Virginie Dremeaux, Digital Marketing Director, CANAL+ REGIE
  • Carolyn McCall, CEO, ITV
  • Sam Taylor, Head of Commercial Marketing, Direct Line Group
  • Alex Mahon, CEO, Channel 4
  • Joe Marchese, President, Advertising Revenue, Fox Networks Group
  • Jean-Paul Edwards, Strategy and Product Development Director EMEA, OMD
  • Henry Rivero, VP Advanced Advertising & Innovation, RTL Group
  • Mathias Berg, Chief Operating Officer, TV4 Group
  • Brian Lesser, CEO, AT&T, Advertising & Analytics, AT&T Services
  • Paul Haddad, President 4A (Altice Media and Data Solutions)
  • Sam Gaunt, Head of Media, Lidl
  • Justin Sampson, CEO, BARB
  • Christian Kurz, SVP, Global Consumer Insights, Viacom
  • Nicolle Pangis, President & CEO, NCC Media
  • Paul Evans, Global Head of Media, Vodafone Group

You can register for this event here.


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