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BBC’s role in free-to-air platforms becoming “destructive” and hampering ad innovation, says Decipher MD


By Jessica Davies | News Editor

December 3, 2013 | 3 min read

The BBC’s role in the free-to-air (FTA) platforms YouView, Freeview and Freesat is becoming “destructive” and preventing the platforms and their commercial broadcast partners from innovating around data and advertising, according to Decipher managing director Nigel Walley.

“The BBC’s lack of interest in the evolution of the advertising market is blinding them to the danger of those platforms not having clear data strategies,” he said.

"The BBC has to step back and let the platforms, and their commercial broadcast partners, innovate around data and advertising, otherwise they will end up handing the crown jewels to Martin Sorrell."

His comments come as the consultancy releases its new report, 'The Failure Of Future Ad Tech in the UK’, which makes the case that the next round of TV innovation is being hampered by the failure of FTA platforms to invest in consumer data and ad tech systems, which is having a detrimental effect on the UK ad-tech market.

The report reveals that the desire of UK broadcasters to develop their own, individual ad-tech systems is "self-defeating", and will ultimately hand advantage in FTA advertising to the big US agency groups and their ad-tech teams.

“Broadcasters can’t win an arms race against the platforms and the media agency groups. They need to pick sides, and let those two groups fight it out. If I was a broadcaster, I would be picking the TV platforms because they are inherently interested in TV. However, in the UK the broadcasters’ arms are tied by the fact that the free-to-air platforms aren’t building anything,” said Walley.

Decipher has called for the creation of a single, unified ad network, which is optimised for TV and can work across YouView, Freeview and Freesat in the UK, and can also support the development of next-stage web ad-tech platforms in each of the FTA broadcasters’ web/tablet/TV players.

This “shared build” would also deliver them the economies of scale needed to compete against the combined forces of the media agencies and global web ad-tech groups, according to the report.

The report also calls for the ISP providers BT and TalkTalk, also YouView shareholders, to be treated as TV platforms.

However it also states that BT, Virgin and Talk Talk must share some of the blame given their failure to invest in TV addressability – with Sky alone the sole TV platform to drive forward in this area.

This means Sky will be able to dictate the terms on which addressability arrives in the UK, but it cannot take on the agency ad groups single handed, according to the report.

“The failure of the TV platforms as a group to offer the UK’s advertising community a believable, cohesive development plan is handing advantage to the media agency groups and the global web tech companies,” said Walley.

BT and TalkTalk should be offered the chance to join any new network created for free-to-air TV players, into which they can integrate their own CRM systems given they are YouView partners, according to Decipher.

For addressability in TV to take off properly, it needs to be consistently offered across all platforms.

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