The Future of TV Advertising Global (the new name for the London edition of Future TV Advertising Forum, held earlier this month) is one of the best places to feel the pulse of the global TV advertising industry. It gives you a sense of the challenges ahead and the solutions available. Here are our key takeaways from the 2019 event.
Takeaway No.1: Television is back on the offensive
We have listened for years as television slowly transformed itself into a modern, data-driven advertising medium and repeated its largely defensive mantra: TV still has the reach, if only it is measured properly; TV can do activation, but it is hard to prove; TV is still the most effective advertising medium, especially if you focus on media profit; TV is the best brand-builder and without brand investment, brands will eventually die.
The message until 2017 was that marketers should not shift budget to digital, and they should keep it in television. In 2018 we saw the first signs of television’s growing confidence, based on being able to give the modern marketer more of what they want, while marketers themselves started to worry that advertising strategy may have become too short-term and over-reliant on non-broadcaster digital. 2018 was the year when sentiment started to swing back towards television.
Earlier this month, at the 2019 edition of Future TV Advertising Global, it felt like the television ‘recovery’ moved to the next level, with several speakers stating categorically: we want our money back from digital and we intend to get it!
Media owners with advanced advertising solutions now believe that they can ‘repatriate’ budget that has moved to digital, including to Google and Facebook. This is different to saying, ‘stop shifting budget’. The television industry has moved from defence to attack.
Media owners are becoming bolder because they have a much-improved armoury, which is built upon better first-party data, better use of advertiser data, better audience segmentation, better attribution, and yes, better (if still completely imperfect) measurement.
We need to recognise this moment. Television has been on the back-foot for more than five years. Some people think the ad-supported version of this medium is dying. But it looks like we have already passed peak disruption in advanced television advertising markets. This was the first Future TV Advertising event when the determination to win back budget that shifted to digital was expressed so forcefully and so often.
When talking about the launch of VOZ, Australia’s shared, multi-broadcaster cross-platform measurement, planning and optimisation platform that goes live in February, Mark Frain, CEO at Foxtel Media, stated: “We want some of the money back from digital, and creating a single source for measurement is one way to do that.” His thoughts were echoed by Kim Portrate, CEO at Think TV Australia, who pointed to an AUS$700m opportunity – money she thinks it is realistic to take from digital and bring to TV.
“This is an opportunity to get back money that has shifted to YouTube,” she declared. “We are really clear about where we want to get our growth and that is from the duopoly [Google and Facebook]. That’s what we want, so let’s get on with it.”
It is not just our Australian friends being naturally bullish – nobody made such bold statements at either of the Future TV Advertising Sydney events in 2018 or even in February 2019. The reason they are going on the offensive is VOZ, which some senior agency executives in Australia have described as the Holy Grail of measurement.
You can read more about VOZ here but this is what it does:
- Identify linked device usage to enable de-duplication of viewing across screens.
- Demonstrate incremental reach from connected device viewing.
- Demonstrate co-viewing of connected living room TV sets, with demographic details, for streaming services from broadcasters.
- Enable unified multiplatform campaigns with consistent performance metrics.
- Provide combined reach/frequency management across TV/BVOD and all screens.
- Enable agencies and advertisers to create media plans for TV inventory on all screens for metropolitan free-to-air broadcasters and commercial Foxtel channels.
- Integrate broadcaster, advertiser and third-party data to enable audience targeting against behaviour, interests and needs.
- Provide, in time, a new currency for trading TV in Australia that brings broadcast linear plus live and on-demand streaming – watched via any screen – into one buy.
The European sell-side is more confident, too. Talking about how Virgin Media Television (Ireland’s largest commercial broadcaster, formerly called TV3) is getting ready for addressable TV thanks to the AdSmart partnership between Sky and Virgin Media (covering the UK and Ireland), Pat Kiely, MD at Virgin Media Television Ireland referred to the opportunity to attract new-to-TV clients. But what he really wants to talk about in relation to addressable is how TV can take budget from blue chip brands and “how we repatriate lost money from digital back to TV”.
He has given his team the challenge of cracking FMCG clients for addressable. Referring to brands more generally, he said: “There was a mandatory percentage of budget that had to go into digital and the question is how we win that back and convince big traditional TV advertisers to imagine television in a very different way.”
Jeroen Coeymans, Director of Business Intelligence at SBS Belgium, pointed to the immediate impact of addressable TV advertising. “Advanced TV advertising will bring in incremental revenue. Half our campaigns were with new-to-television advertisers and the other half are shifting money back from digital to television,” he revealed.
The final word must go to Adidas, the global sports clothing/footwear brand that has pushed hard into direct-to-consumer ecommerce and which at one point seemed determined to focus almost entirely on digital as its consumer engagement strategy. In March 2017, in the context of its drive to quadruple online sales over three years, Adidas CEO Kasper Rorsted told CNBC, in an interview you can see here, that “it is clear that the younger consumer engages with us predominantly over the mobile device so the digital engagement is key for us. You don’t see any TV advertising anymore, and that is why we are converting the way we conduct business. All our efforts, all our engagements with the consumer, are through digital media.”
But while that led to a focus on digital advertising and short-term strategies, the mood at Adidas has changed. At Future TV Advertising Global, Andy Pilkington, Media Director, Europe at Adidas, explained how the company is now rebalancing its choice of media to ensure more focus on long-term brand outcomes, which benefits brand-building media.
Referring to an earlier session on effectiveness, in which Les Binet, Group Head of Effectiveness at adam&eveDDB, again outlined why brands need to carefully balance brand-building and activation media, Pilkington said: “TV is in a naturally strong position as the pendulum swings back to brand building.”
He confirmed that it is light users who make up the bulk of Adidas sales, despite the brand having a loyal fan base of heavy buyers, and that it is valuable for a brand to be seen by everyone, including those that will not buy the brand. “More targeting is positive, but it is important not to lose sight of the power that television has as a broadcast medium for one message to everyone.”
Pilkington made it clear that Adidas buys into the Binet & Field work on long-term versus short-term, and you can read more about how the brand is rebalancing its media strategy in another of our 2019 takeways: ‘It’s not a question of if you follow the 60:40 rule, just how you implement it.’
Read our full list of takeaways from The Future of TV Advertising Global 2019:
Takeaway 1: Television is back on the offensive
Takeaway 2: It’s not a question of if you follow the 60:40 rule, just how you implement it
Takeaway 3: Addressable TV is coming fast, as a complement to ‘national’ ads, not as a replacement
Takeaway 4: Unification of broadcast and digital is everything – priorities No.1 and No.2 for TV
Takeaway 5: TV is an activation medium, which makes it a uniquely full-funnel offering
Takeaway 6: The real magic is data-driven, audience-based buying
Takeaway 7: The future of agencies – yes, they do have one