For transparency I need to tell you that before I joined OMD UK, I was Head of Planning at Thinkbox (the marketing body for commercial television in the UK). For me any presentation that starts with headlines about the “Death of Television” needs to be taken with a big pinch of salt. Luckily Thomas Bremond, Managing Director Europe, Freewheel redeemed himself almost immediately by sharing 2016 headlines extolling the virtues of the new world of television. So what does the new world of television mean for us and brands now and in the near future? Here are some the key themes I took away from day one of the Future TV Ad Forum 2016.
The Holy Grail – aggregating reach and frequency across screens.
Throughout the day I witnessed firm agreement from brands, media owners and agencies that “television” is no longer just from a linear feed into the largest screen in the house. Instead technology has allowed viewers to make choices about how and when they consume TV content as well as what content they want to watch. Arguably this control means that viewers have an even stronger relationship with it, which can only be a good thing for advertisers. If an audience is more engaged with the content it follows that they will be more engaged with the advertising – advertisers can borrow brand values from the content that they are surrounding.
But this significant change in viewing behaviour does impact heavily on the reach capability of Linear TV alone, and by default increases Linear TV’s ability to deliver excess frequency into a campaign. Therefore there is a clear demand from both agencies and advertisers to be able to aggregate reach and frequency properly and professionally across screens.
This has to be the next big topic. Measurement systems haven’t kept up with technology which in reality means, in the UK at least, that tools just don’t exist to measure reach and frequency across screens. The challenges of combining Survey Data and Server Data have defied even the best research houses, BARB’s project Dovetail is woefully behind schedule. Each agency group use a series of tools and process to determine overlap between viewers and viewing, yet none are able to combine all AV channels effectively because that single source approach isn’t possible. But as we move towards more data driven marketing solutions, we must find a solution to this as an industry.
At OMD we use a broad set of tools and techniques based on a rigorous process to ensure we’re getting the best possible read of audience reach and frequency across channels. This is an ongoing process as audience behaviour is continually changing and we need to keep up with best in class in-channel measurement alongside cross channel hub tools.
Addressability vs Wastage
Probably the biggest discussion of the day was reserved for the almost philosophical debate about targeting. Historically the biggest and broadest of the broadcast channels, television’s role has been to drive awareness to drive sales. Top of the funnel, no question. There’s almost no such thing as wastage. “Wastage” builds brand equity, strengthens memory structures and talks to consumers of the future. But what about lower down the funnel? Can’t television have a role there through addressability? Irwin Gotlieb, Chairman, GroupM Global, argued that whilst some top funnel TV money may be lost over time, it could be replaced at lower levels – replacing sales driving or promotional budgets. Brands’ physical space in Bricks and Mortar shops will be eroded as we move to e-tailing, why not use media as your new visual shelf? In this model, addressability keeps marketing spend in the television eco-system.
Ultimately the type of business you operate in and the target audience you need to reach will determine what kind of role addressability could play in your TV campaigns. Unilever, represented by Richard Brooke, Media and Strategy Director Europe, clearly have a wide set of target audiences who are well served by broad television viewing. Conversely a more discrete audience required by Santander for a Business product would benefit from addressability. And these budgets would be new to TV. A broad rule of thumb suggests that the target audience would need to be less than 35% of the population otherwise the costs don’t stack up at the moment.
Shaking off legacy structures to embrace data driven TV advertising models
Finally, an acknowledgement that agencies need to continue to adapt to new planning and buying techniques – invest in talent from data science backgrounds to balance the creativity. This is something we are already implementing across the OMD network by implanting our data scientists into the client teams as an integral part of the planning process. We are continually redefining roles in line with what the future of the media planner looks like but as an industry as a whole we need to do all of this at speed. The only certainty is that this is as slow as change will ever be.