​​"The conversation that TV is dying is dead"

Be unafraid, I come from the future.  Ish.  Sort of.

Last week I had the great pleasure of attending the Future TV conference in London (www.futuretvads.com).  International speakers from Unilever, OMD, GroupM, Cablevision, Sky, Channel 4, Google, Facebook and many others provided some excellent information and stimulating discussion about the current and future state of TV advertising.  Here are a few key themes that emerged (in no particular order):


"The conversation that TV is dying is dead" (Helen McRae, UK CEO and Chair of Western Europe, Mindshare)

I've never been to a conference that was as optimistic about the future of TV.  Notably, this optimism came not just from the places you'd expect (broadcasters and distributers) but from the buy side (agencies, advertisers) and digital competitors, including YouTube, Facebook and Twitter.  Given the recent announcements that UK TV ad revenue is to hit a record high point of revenue this Christmas[1], it's also clear that this optimism is well founded!​

TV works

"We have a whole host of clients who will stand with us and say 'TV works'" (Nikki Mendonca, President EMEA, OMD)

A large reason given for the optimism was an emphasis on the effectiveness of TV. 

Focus on ROI measurement from Cablevision, Sky, Comcast 360, Dish, etc!


Evidence of action

"Over the last 12 months more has changed in TV about the application of technology and data than in the previous 10 years […] It's real now" (Michael Bologna, Modi Media).

This was a 'show me' conference, after many years of 'tell me'.  It was striking how many times broadcasters talked about what they had launched in the last year and what they were going to launch in the next few months.  This was a conference not of hypotheticals, but of case studies and finished projects.  Channel 4 talked of three products: 4OD (on demand platform)[2], Ad4You (customizable video ads) and PVX (programmatic exchange) and All4 (platform that unites linear, VOD and streaming)[3]. Cablevision demonstrated their programmatic ad platform fed by RPD, Total Audience Application[4].  Sky talked about AdSmart[5] and AdVance[6].  France's TF1 presented OneData[7].  Etc, etc!  The pace of action and evidence of meaningful investment was massively encouraging.


Areas of focus: data, programmatic, ROI

If there had been a drinking game involving the words 'programmatic', 'data' or 'ROI', no-one would have been sober for longer than about 15 minutes.  Companies demonstrating products focused on these areas included Sky, Dish, Cablevision, Channel 4, Comcast 360, TF1, MTG and others.  Again, the significant difference between this conference and conferences I've been to in the past was that these were demonstrations of existing products, not just aspirations or future plans.


Measurement opportunities for TV

"We're seeing digital dollars flow back into TV because it can be targeted at the household level", Michael Bologna, Modi Media

Many companies, including Dish, Comcast, Cablevision and Sky, presented case studies of how they're using return path data and addressability to target more tightly and demonstrate ROI at a more granular, campaign level. 

In addition, Sky said they saw 30-50% uplift in campaign KPIs when clients integrated their own customer data and used it to target. 


Growing skepticism around digital data

"YouTube and Facebook are being very brazen about their claims and they're not always correct", Helen McRae: UK CEO and Chair of Western Europe, Mindshare

Data, traditionally seen as a strong point for digital companies, was often identified as a source of skepticism by buyers at the conference.  Instead of silence after a claim like 'Facebook has a superbowl worth of viewers every day', there were requests for greater clarity on the basis of the data.  Buyers frequently compared how a 'view' was defined in digital vs TV, pointing out how the TV definition was both much more rigorous and also more meaningful as a result.


Viewability, ad fraud are opportunities for TV

"If we don't eliminate fraud, digital will not be a trusted trading environment", Simon Thomas, Global Director, Audiences Research GroupM

This was the first TV-focused conference I'd been to where a sizable amount of the program was dedicated to viewability and ad fraud.  The common theme from the participants is that concerns over viewability and ad fraud in the digital ecosystem represent opportunities for TV to present itself in a much more positive light.  Several participants made the point that TV should benefit from highlighting the enormous discrepancy between what's counted as a view in TV and what's counted as a view in digital.

For example, Sky AdSmart, which offers addressable ads, only charges if 75% of an ad is seen, and it's obviously 100% viewable.  That was contrasted with the IAB standard of 50% of pixels seen for just 2 seconds, and with Facebook's metric of 3 seconds (including with no audio) counting as a view.


Don't forget the core

"We need to protect what we've got and build on it", Richard Brooke (Media Operations and Strategy Director for Europe, Unilever)

A common refrain was that TV needed to innovate around its core, not away from it.  Several marketers and agencies talked of a growing understanding that a focus on the short term ROI metrics commonly available from digital companies risks doing material long-term damage to an advertiser if it's done at the expense of brand-building.  So rather than trying to force TV into a short-term mentality, broadcasters should embrace and demonstrate the unique value that TV brings to the marketing mix. 

[1]Marketing Magazine: TV ad revenues set to smash December record this Christmas​​

[2] Channel 4

[3] 4Sales: All4​

[4] Cablevision: AdExchanger​

[5] Sky: AdSmart

[6] Sky: AdVance

[​7] TF1: OneData

Other posts you may be interested in:

A word from our fearless leader: Drinking on a rollercoaster​​​

A word from our fearless leader: Knowing the whole story​