Home Analysis The next frontier for data at ITV

The next frontier for data at ITV

ITV has created a direct link from data to profitability. This was one of the observations offered by the company recently when outlining its work to adopt a more joined-up approach to data. Many areas of the business are benefiting: ITV’s own marketing, addressable advertising products, product development, and personalisation of the viewing experience on ITVX – like telling viewers what they might want to watch next. More consumption equals more advertising capacity. The broadcaster has been explaining the tech evolution involved, including a move to a decentralised data model.

Lara Izlan, Director of Data Strategy at ITV (left) with Hannah Barlow, Deputy Controller, Advanced Advertising at ITV, pictured at The Future of TV Advertising Global in London
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‘Value’ emerged as an overall theme around ITV’s digital transformation journey, when the company spoke at Future of TV Advertising Global last month. Presenting on how the broadcaster is building a more joined-up approach to data, Lara Izlan, Director of Data Strategy, explained how ITV has used data capabilities to enhance its enterprise value.

“ITV has managed to create a direct link from data to profitability and sustainability, not just for the organisation, but for its partners,” said Izlan. “We use value as a means for prioritisation among many data use cases, as a method for feedback and learning, and as a way to measure success.”

Many areas of the business are said to be improving their use of data: ITV’s own marketing campaign performance, increasing the choice and speed to market of new addressable advertising products, and the empowerment of product experimentation to drive viewer engagement.

Izlan, however, was excited for the next frontier: “We are using data as the connective tissue between all the various touchpoints, or as I like to call it, the ‘viewer value chain’. This means we can start informing and optimising the decisions we make in a much more interconnected way, so we can grow our streaming business. An example of this is data driving content positioning. It enables optimisation and experimentation, and we link that to marketing activity — so how we use data to attract new users as well as re-engaging audiences with first-party data activations across all marketing channels.

“We then link that to the product experience. By using data to personalise experiences on ITVX, we’re giving viewers what they want to see, we’re telling them what they might like to watch next, and driving engagement and time spent on the site. That, in turn, increases the advertising capacity, which we then link to commercial opportunities. It’s how we drive reach, and how we drive more addressable advertising options for advertisers.”

By incorporating everything that Izlan mentioned, ITV has created a feedback loop mechanism to continually optimise its decision making and grow its streaming business.

“It’s been a journey to get here. Over the last 18 months we’ve kept our procurement team busy. We’ve implemented a new cloud data platform, clean room technology, and a customer data platform. All that is coming together to power Flex, ITV’s first data-driven platform that offers insights and the activation of data, ” Izlan revealed.

She also told the London audience that by introducing these new ventures, ITV has recognised that digital transformation is not only about the technology. “It’s also about people and process”, she said. “We knew we needed an enterprise-wide cultural shift for this to deliver the value we want for the business. So, in parallel, the data team is transforming the operating model by moving away from centralised, back-office style data functions to a fully decentralised model where we are embedding data capabilities into the business. These align with each business area’s way of working and strategic objectives.

“We’re allowing our users to self-serve by building data, training that data, then releasing it. We want to democratise data across the business, so the data activation team sits in the same place as the business positions at all levels of the organisation. ITV knows that developing data capabilities and culture are powerful drivers of value. It also makes advertising better for end consumers and a more profitable and strategic investment for brands wanting more enduring business outcomes.”

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