Home Analysis The future of Total TV: how we deliver cross-platform audiences at scale,...

The future of Total TV: how we deliver cross-platform audiences at scale, and make that easy

Senior executives at Manning Gottlieb OMD, Sky, YouTube and ITV have been giving their views on the evolution of Total TV and how the TV industry delivers large-scale cross-platform audiences – and makes them an easy buy for agencies and brands. You can hear what they think about the arrival of advertising tiers on Netflix and Disney+, and changes they want to see over the next 12 months across the wider market. This conversation spans the convergence of linear broadcast, addressable and streaming, how agencies judge the value of different screens and platforms, and the role of broadcaster-controlled programmatic like Planet V.

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The introduction of lower-priced ad-supported tiers at Netflix and Disney+ were a major talking point at The Future of TV Advertising Global earlier this month, and when asked what clients think of this new dynamic in the Total TV ecosystem, Natalie Bell, CEO at Manning Gottlieb OMD, confirmed it was just another layer of complexity for agencies to navigate when advising clients. “You can buy [ads against] football highlights on YouTube through Sky,” she offered as another example of the nuanced campaign options available in a multiscreen premium video universe [in the UK]. “It’s really exciting to see Netflix entering the market but we don’t know about the adoption yet.”

Evelyn Rothblum, EVP Advertising, Partnerships & Distribution, Italy and Germany at Sky, emphasised that both Netflix and Disney are great partners for the Pay TV platform provider (which is also a broadcaster and a multichannel sales house). “They are aggregated into our [Pay TV] offer. We want to integrate their content to ensure people find all the content they love. It is great to see new players offering advertising but it will take a long time for some of those services to achieve the same reach as Sky in the UK and also in Italy and Germany.”

Panel moderator Thomas Bremond, SVP & Chief Revenue Officer, International at FreeWheel, (which provides comprehensive ad platforms for publishers, advertisers, and media buyers) wanted to know how we should characterise Netflix within the Total TV marketplace, and if it is viewed differently to BVOD or other AVOD. “Netflix is television,” declared Kelly Williams, Managing Director, Commercial at ITV. “They make professionally produced, long-form content, so they are part of the TV ecosystem. They’ve been around for a while, competing with us for audience, but we also make content for Netflix, so they are a great partner to work with.

“In advertising they will be a competitor, but we are in a great place to compete with them. We have a big linear business with a mass reach proposition combined with a fast-growing addressable proposition, and we make most of our own shows [thanks to ITV Studios] so we have a strong creative offer, with the ability to integrate brands into our shows.”

ITV, Sky, OMD and YouTube were speaking on a panel titled, ‘TV’s Serendipity moment?’, which focused on the evolution of the Total TV marketplace and how the industry offers cross-platform audience scale while also offering simplicity to buyers. Philip Miles, Managing Director, Video & Display Sales, UK for YouTube, highlighted the contribution of his company, including as a platform for hosting content from channel owners (like Channel 4, which started to make its long-form content available on YouTube this year).

“Up to 30 million people watch YouTube on a television set per month in the UK,” Miles declared, adding that “40% of BVOD is consumed off the television, according to Thinkbox research last month.”

He was making the point that “consumers are cross-platform and watch where they want to watch”. Miles confirmed, “We are seeing interesting partnerships with broadcasters – with YouTube as a partner distribution platform.” And on the question of delivering large-scale, cross-platform audiences and making that easy for advertisers, he said, “We have moved into a new phase where we have to think more about converging the world of linear [broadcast] and digital.”

Miles said YouTube can deliver incremental reach for advertisers as viewing patterns change, and has the ability to leverage targeting to drive mid-funnel and lower-funnel objectives. He referenced YouTube Select (which surfaces a diverse mix of content packages called ‘lineups’ that are contextually linked, like beauty & fashion, entertainment, technology, sports, etc.) as a way to create scale for buyers, and he pointed to global reach on the platform and consistency across markets, coming back to the theme of making life simple for buyers.

Bell emphasised the need to understand the differences between screens and platforms and viewer receptivity to advertising in the different environments – pointing out that targeted audiences on smaller screens can be just as valuable as mass audiences on a large television – albeit traded differently. “From a planning perspective, you have to stick to the principle of ‘Who are the audiences and what mindset are they in, and how do you buy into them, and through what platform, and then how do we measure those cross-platform audiences?”

Bremond asked Bell if it is easier to buy from non-broadcaster digital platforms or from classic broadcasters like ITV. “A digital person [within the agency] will say ‘yes’ and a television person will say ‘no’,” she observed.

“The challenge is that everyone is coming up with a better way to buy on their platform and every platform is simple in its own right, but it is not simple to buy across them, and we have to think holistically. Everyone is innovating, but I hope we have reached peak complexity because I need a bit more convergence through DSPs and single points of purchase.”

Williams acknowledged that digital platforms have made it easy to buy video and said ITV is trying to make television easy to buy, pointing to the investment in Planet TV (the ITV programmatic platform built specifically for television, where ITV owns and controls the programmatic value chain). “This is a self-service platform that every agency can use, and it allows them to exploit our first-party data – using clean room technology to match advertiser data with our data in a safe way. We hope that more of the television industry can use this, and we are hopeful that other broadcasters will join Planet V over the next year or so.

“So that’s what we are doing to compete with Disney and Netflix,” he added, referring to a discussion about how these companies are taking their subscription-with-advertising VOD audiences to market and their tech partners.

Williams added: “The big challenge in the next couple of years is convergence, as more television is delivered over IP. For the next ten years we are going to have to play two roles, with linear [broadcast] and addressable [streamed] and we will have to converge the ad-tech and the sales.”

He confirmed that ITVX, which succeeds ITV Hub, is about moving from a catch-up service to a streaming destination [an objective that includes a massive expansion in the catalogue and a focus on streaming-first drama launches], but that ITVX is also about building ITV’s addressable future. “We are trying to build a big streaming audience and ensure it is incremental and does not reduce linear [broadcast].”

Williams added: “Planet V is the front door for addressable and in future it will be the front door for ITV as we converge everything.”

Asked to sum-up the near-term challenges, Williams flagged regulation for public broadcasters in the streaming world, given their value for local culture and independent trusted news, and his particular focus was on prominence – ensuring some privileges in the same way that broadcasters are guaranteed prominence in broadcast EPGs.

Focusing on changes he wanted in the next year specifically, Williams asked for more collaboration among TV providers, using CFlight (the Comcast/Sky led cross-platform measurement solution that Sky, ITV and Channel 4 have now aligned around) as an example of what can be achieved when working together. “We should compete really hard on content and collaborate on technology and measurement,” he told the Future of TV Advertising Global audience in London.

YouTube’s Miles also gave a nudge to any regulators in the room, stating the value of YouTube creators to the UK production sector – with thousands of jobs now involved. “The television future has to include online platforms and online platforms have a really important role to play in supporting creativity in different markets,” he argued.

His one-year horizon prioritises measurement, which he described as critical to the industry. “It is challenging to make sense of this world [of multiple media touchpoints] but we have to commit ourselves to solutions.” Referring to efforts to establish common and comparable measurement between digital and television, he added: “This is one of the reasons we support Project Origin.”

For Sky, Rothblum had earlier noted how it was harder to sell the concept of addressable TV advertising in Germany and Italy because of a focus on linear in those markets. “They are not looking so much for that targeted advertising product on television — it’s more about digital,” she observed, comparing these Sky markets to the UK where her company has helped drive some scale for addressable.

“Italy and Germany are following behind and it is more about educating the market and working with advertisers to show the value. We know there is value, from our experience in the UK.”

And what does Rothblum want to see change in the next year, especially? “I agree that the focus is on measurement. We must also make it easier to buy audiences. There has never been so much great content for consumers to watch, so we must help advertisers and agencies find the audiences that are watching that content, in an easier way.”

Bell at Manning Gottlieb OMD had already listed some challenges during the course of this panel, including the need for two different skill sets to cover linear [broadcast] TV on the one hand and the addressable/programmatic marketplace on the other – and the need to converge those. “But when we do converge those things, it gets really exciting,” she added.  The talent shortage on the AV (television, rather than digital) side of the industry is also a problem, she admitted.

Then there are two priorities for 2023, for Bell, the first of which is solving the measurement challenges [e.g., cross-platform] without losing sight of effectiveness. The second is the continued delivery of content to excite viewers, which means sustaining the creative economy. “I need content to enable mass reach for my clients,” the agency CEO concluded.

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