Mike Shaw
Mike Shaw 24 January 2018

Is it time to rethink TV?

As TV viewing is evolving we mustn't overlook the fact that this once all-powerful branding medium continues to have a bulletproof armoury in the guise of connected, addressable and programmatic TV options for advertisers, writes Mike Shaw, VP, EMEA, dataxu.

Connected TV (CTV) penetration is expected to reach 57% in Western Europe in 2017 and savvy advertisers are right to plan ahead, identifying new opportunities for engagement rather than bemoaning those they might have lost.

Because while it’s true that busy, modern consumers today needn’t be tied to a schedule nor bored by what’s on - while they can ditch the TV guide in favour of video on-demand on any device - we are also finding commuters catching up with their favourite shows on the train; friends binge-watching their favourite series online; and younger generations browsing clips on their mobiles at all times of day or night.

In a world where video is omnipresent, brands are slowly waking up to the fact that TV advertising mustn’t be limited to linear broadcast spots.

Indeed, Ofcom’s Communications Market Report 2017 paints an illuminating picture of the changing TV landscape, revealing, for instance, that 94% of UK homes now have digital TV whilst 36% have a Smart TV. It points out that people are supplementing live broadcast TV viewing with on-demand and streaming services and recorded TV. We have the freedom to watch what we want, when we want, wherever we want to watch it.

Its report highlights a widening gap between the viewing habits of the youngest and oldest audiences, with the steepest decline in average viewing of broadcast TV among children and adults aged 16-24.

But while the fragmentation of media consumption across platforms, and the pluralisation of devices continues, television employs a relatively consistent, standardised advertising format. Most television ads are either 15, 30 or 60-second audiovisual spots and comparing TV to performance-based online ad formats - as is often done - is not particularly pertinent, since not only are the formats very different, they also tend to have widely different drivers: often brand awareness versus direct response.

Indeed, Les Binet and Peter Field’s study The Long and Short of It explores this tension between long and short-term strategies for brands and businesses and provides evidence-based recommendations. Increasingly, they find, there is a tendency to use very short-term online metrics as primary performance measures. This has dangerous implications for long-term success. They rightly argue that anyone involved in the complex world of multi-channel campaign development and evaluation needs to have a clear understanding of how short-term and long-term effects are different.

What’s more, Connected TV, can put brands back in touch with hard-to-reach audience segments on the devices and platforms they love. It enables advertisers to modernise their TV budgets to create a blend of traditional and digital, aligning media spend with how consumers spend their time.

Audiences are watching social video, mobile video, and television content on more devices than ever before, and often more frequently. By tuning into their favourite shows from their phones, tablets and Smart TVs, they provide brands with a wealth of data. Every device is a new data source offering valuable insights about who the consumers are and what they want to see, in a way that is not possible with traditional TV viewing.

Gone are the days when only age and gender could inform campaigns with the scale of reach available on television. What we watch on connected devices reveals so much more about our values and interests. As such, addressable TV advertising formats and programmatic TV advertising are increasingly signifiant and growing rapidly. A luxury automotive brand, for instance, can go further than targeting men aged 35 to 65. Instead, it can segment and reach consumers who watch Top Gear religiously and have browsed convertibles online.

This is the final piece of the puzzle for truly 21st centry advertising. The average UK household now has 8.2 connected devices but historically, television has always been the missing link. In the circle of devices that make up a holistic view of every consumer, TV was the only one that couldn’t be integrated for campaigns and reporting. CTV closes this gap, allowing television to be the final touchpoint in a complete consumer view, and giving brands ample opportunity to reach out to their audiences with hyper-targeted ads across devices.

In the UK, TV will account for 24.6% of overall ad spend this year, totaling a huge investment of £ 5.36 billion. But allocating TV budgets exclusively to traditional spots risks shutting the door on millions of consumers who save television for when they’re on the move, or for devices other than the big screen. 42% of consumers worldwide prefer watching shows on laptop or desktop, up 32% from last year, while 13% prefer to do so on their smartphones, compared with 10% in 2016. Brands and agencies must start to take this seismic change in audience behaviour into account.

Advertisers looking to increase brand safety are increasingly turning back to television, but CTV offers much more than transparency. It’s a means of capturing attention of  the most hard to reach audience segments, a way of improving targeting capabilities, and a channel that, used well, increases campaign effectiveness and  ROI. Increasing numbers of consumers have given up the remote control for good and it’s time advertisers woke up, took note and acted.

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