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The future of TV planning

James Cornish, VP International Sales, Vevo
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One of the questions I was asked at Mediatel’s recent Future of TV Advertising UK event was “Will more streaming mean a more diverse distribution landscape for ad-supported television, and how should advertisers think about the opportunity in this space?” or words to that effect. My answer, in short, was ‘yes’, and that I believe the opportunity was to identify the best and highest quality content that builds the broadest audiences and to work closely with partners who represent that in order to best leverage today’s TV landscape. It’s a fairly straightforward answer, but an approach which is all too often overlooked, in particular when evaluating ‘digital’ media, of all formats.

TV has long been heralded as the bastion of brand building. It has high quality environments reflective of advertiser’s products, engaged audiences to captivate viewers – ensuring messaging is seen and heard – and lots of said viewers to deliver this quickly and at scale. The craft of planning advertising in this environment has been anchored around these principles and they remain fundamentally important in leveraging the power of the TV screen.

However, TV viewing in its traditional sense has been splintered by digital distribution creating competition for viewer time in what was once its very own ‘walled garden’. Ultimately this means the shape of the opportunity from an advertiser perspective is more fragmented and continues to evolve, with new platforms, services and content.

One approach to this audience fragmentation would be to look at ways to aggregate content sources and then lead with data/precision/addressability. The issue here is that the importance of content, a founding pillar in the way in which TV should be appraised to drive the value it’s proven to do, is de-prioritised. Sky’s Adsmart – heralded as possibly the leading addressable TV service in the world –has had some success in application of data to the TV screen, most notably with smaller advertisers. That said, it’s not their predominant way of delivering value for advertisers – that remains anchored in the quality of the content, the connection with, and size of the audience Sky enables brands to reach.

It’s fair to say we can also take learnings from how online media has been utilised to help guide our approaches in digitally connected TV. Mid to long tail inventory aggregation, the pursuit of data, hyper targeting and tech utilisation has, in the main, disregarded the value of quality content and meaningful reach.

The result of this is that digital media, as a proposition, is largely considered a channel for lower funnel activity and has developed a reputation for brand safety concerns, transparency issues and a host of other challenges as surfaced in the recent ISBA/PwC report.

A content-first planning strategy for digital channels would alleviate many, if not all of these challenges, and surface the primetime, brand building opportunities that genuinely exist and are often overlooked in digital media.

This approach becomes even more pertinent when thinking about the CTV marketplace, and that’s because with the TV screen we’re talking about brand building, awareness, upper funnel marketing – all the things TV has proven as its primary strengths. If we run solely down the data led, tech first route, just because we can, we risk diluting the huge potential CTV has in balancing the shift in linear consumption and preserving the opportunity the big screen offers advertisers to build their businesses.

TV today is a combination of linear, recorded, on-demand – it’s both subscriber funded and ad-supported. There’s more content available, a diversity of distribution and a continually evolving audience profile. Putting content front and centre of your planning in this space means as an advertiser you can transcend this fragmentation. You can connect powerfully with audiences in high quality environments, and you can leverage the dominant qualities and value of the big screen in today’s TV landscape.

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