In November 2016, over 700 people from all over the world gathered in London to discuss the future of TV. Canada was very well represented, with leaders from Corus, Bell, Rogers, CBC, Quebecor and others in attendance (plus me and Peter from NLogic).
It was great to see that innovation has become the new normal with broadcast, an encouraging harbinger of growth for the years ahead. This year saw many instances where smaller-scale innovations from previous years had grown into sizable businesses. We heard from Cadent in the US how revenue from addressable TV advertising had more than doubled last year. We heard from the UK's Channel 4 that 50% of their revenue will be traded programmatically this year. And we heard from virtually every broadcaster from many different continents how they were embracing technology and data to address marketers' changing needs, whilst remaining true to the unique effectiveness of TV.
On a less positive note, one of the most common issues raised by agencies was their growing frustration with the "walled gardens" around data within the digital ecosystem. Nikki Mendonca, President EMEA, OMD complained that "walled gardens are increasingly frustrating for us. Agencies need to be the 'bees' that cross-pollinate across them". Ruth Cartwright, Head of Amplifi AV (Denstu) mentioned that "it's really difficult to plan across these walled gardens" and went so far as to say that "breaking these walls will be a massive priority for us in 2017". The opportunity for broadcast to offer a more transparent, verified form of advanced audience targeting was plain to see.
There was a lot more talk about the 'marketing funnel' or 'consumer journey' than at typical Canadian conferences. This framed TV in a much more positive light, with many pointing out that brands will wither if they are not fed with reach from the top of the funnel provided by TV. As Jakob Nielsen, Managing Director, Digital, GroupM, pointed out, "the top of the funnel is immensely important to build brands. If you don't build brands you will have a smaller brand in the future".
It was also striking (and quite likely related to the point above) how much the UK has moved beyond the discussion about TV's effectiveness that still seems to echo in Canada. Speaker after speaker was operating in a paradigm wherein it was taken for granted that 'TV works'. Richard Brooke, Media & Strategy Director Europe for Unilever said "TV is continuing to deliver reach, which is what Unilever needs"; Keith Moor, CMO Santander pointed out that "I have to go where consumers go. The general size of audience watching commercial TV is still plentiful". And as Irwin Gotlieb memorably put it "those who know what works know that TV works".
The main lessons from the conference seemed to be:
For broadcasters: innovation needs to be the new normal
For brands: don't ignore the need to build the brand for the long-term; feed the funnel, don't just harvest it
For agencies: look for ways to break down the walled gardens
If you'd like more detail, I have much more thorough notes which I'd be happy to share with you. Just drop me a line at email@example.com.
Here are some more quotes of note from the conference:
Irwin Gotlieb (Chairman, Group M)
"TV has been the victim of digital conceit, of misunderstanding data and of poor measurement"
"Those who know what works know that TV works"
"If you forget about feeding the top of the funnel, nothing falls to the bottom of the funnel. I've seen lots of marketers over-focus on ROI and attribution. It works year 1, then it shrinks after that"
Jakob Nielsen, Managing Director, Digital, GroupM
"The top of the funnel is immensely important to build brands. If you don't build brands you will have a smaller brand in the future"
Keith Moor, CMO Santander UK
"The value of demonstrating the value of what you're doing is the key point going forward"
Brian Golbere, GM Emerging Technology, IPONWEB
"Digital provides a lot of expectations from marketers, but TV provides a lot of the best practices"
Jonathan Allen, Sales Director Channel 4
"About 50% of our revenue will be traded programmatically this time next year, up from 15% in 2014"
Alexander Bastin, VP Play Scandinavia, MTG
"Web exclusive content is now a primary driver of audiences. If you take top 3 shows in Sweden, Denmark and Finland, 5 of them were web exclusives. 31% of video views are from web exclusives"
Adam Gaynor VP Media Sales and Analytics, DISH Network:
"Addressable is a product, just like linear. Programmatic is a process, it's just a way of doing things"
Ryan Jamboretz, CRO Videology
"62% of viewing is linear. Next biggest is playback TV (11.4%) / with YouTube at 4.4%, 3% broadcast VOD, 2.9% DVD, 2.2% Facebook. So TV/video integration should be based on TV out, not digital in"
Barry Marcus, Manager Next Generation Advertising, Corus
"We want to change the conversation from program/network as a proxy for audience, to 'audience'"
Other blog posts you may be interested in:
"A meal can only be as good as it's ingredients" Future TV Toronto 2016
A look back at the past 10 years and what we think the future will hold
Programmatic TV & Radio: Confusing means and ends