Behind All 4's new personalised VOD ads that call out the names of viewers

All 4's Alien ad

Channel 4 earlier this week unveiled a new video on demand advertising package allowing brands to directly address viewers - in practise this meant first adopters 20th Century Fox, Foster' and Ronseal, could grab the attention of by literally calling out their names in their creative.

Most strikingly, the feature ran at the end of an ad for 20th Century Fox's Alien: Covenant urging viewers to flee from the movie's extraterrestrial menace, a surprising addition to already unsettling creative.

On the other hand Foster’s shared a personalised pint with viewers and Ronseal looked to directly motivate viewers to crack out the tools and engage in some DIY. Although a handful of brands are onboard at the moment, the possibilities, and the unique selling point, could draw brands through All4's doors.

David Amodio, Channel 4’s digital and creative leader, told The Drum that the feature was inspired by scientific studies showing “higher attention and neurological activity” in people who have just heard their own names. He outlined the ‘cocktail party effect’, whereupon one hears their name in a crowded room and looks around.

Coke’s ‘Share a Coke’ campaign is perhaps the most famous point of comparison, albeit presented in a visual, rather than audio manner. All 4 partner Innovid conversely worked on both this new product, and the VOD side of the 'Share a Coke' campaign.

Currently around half of All 4’s 15 million registrants can be addressed by the feature. Around 200 names were recorded by the Channel 4 narrator.

The idea was birthed nearly a year ago during a brainstorming session. Amodio said: “We were aiming to develop something that would wow advertisers and audiences. We've worked closely with Innovid for a number of years now and they've been fantastic in developing attention grabbing interactive formats.

“Being able to offer a personalised ad experience adds huge value to brands that they simply can't get elsewhere. The viewer data we hold gives brands a valuable opportunity to not only target certain audience segments with bespoke creative, but now directly address individuals. That's a pretty powerful proposition for any advertiser.”

Of course, when a brand is able to directly propose products to viewers, there’s a degree of care that must be taken. Amodio agrees: “We have a responsibility to our viewers to protect them from anything that could be deemed by them to be intrusive.”

All data handled by the company is bound by Channel 4’s Viewer Promise. Furthermore, viewers can opt out of visual or audio personalisation. The service will be closely policed and there will be a limit on the number of personalised messages coming through the service.

“We do this for two reasons, firstly so that viewers don't feel excessively personally targeted and secondly so that the innovation doesn't lose its effect and appeal.”

Matt Colebourne, managing director, EMEA of video marketing platform Innovid, who helped All4 create the product, said that client demand, and the consumer response, to personalisation helped drive this latest product. He opined that personalisation will become the norm in marketing as it is one of the most effective ways to establish an emotional connection with the audience.

“It’s also been used for decades within the direct marketing industry. Just think about all the personalised bills you get in your mailbox. We pay more attention to content that includes our name; that’s a fact.”

By the end of 2017, Colebourne reckons that 20% of the billions of impressions generated by his company will be personalised. Many of them will run through All 4's network.

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John McCarthy

John is an entertainment marketing reporter at The Drum. He writes about the amazing marketing stories coming from the movie, TV, music and video game industries. He's also the hunt for the weirder trends in marketing and advertising.

Fuelled by tea.

All by John