Video Advertising

Industry insight: Creativity defined the first 60 year of the British TV ad, planning and targeting will define the next


By Seb Joseph, News editor

September 24, 2015 | 12 min read

Creativity defined the first 60 years of British TV advertising but booking, planning and targeting is where the next 60 years of headed. The Drum interview broadcasters, agencies and tech providers on what this shift means for advertising.

Jamie West, deputy managing director at Sky Media

TV’s future is evident: what you want, when you want it, any time any place anywhere, on any device. It will be more of everything that we enjoy now.

In saying this I’m acknowledging the extraordinary technological innovation we continue to develop in TV, and quite rightly. However, what is routinely overlooked by future-gazers is the excellence of the UK television industry, the bedrock upon which all our AV content is based. So I would like to focus attention on our uniquely competitive public/private ecosystem, and the broadcasters’ skills which make TV channels so fantastically popular: the commissioning, writing, editing, production standards, scheduling, branding, acquisition, distribution and format creation; the high quality broadcast infrastructure from studio to screen; the promos, PR and social media, the talkability; and behind the scenes there is the data, measurement, insight, systems, targeting, programmatic and investment…

All these aspects will be the same or stronger in the future. Broadcasters will hone their skills further and ensure that their programmes remain viewed, because their motives are professional recognition and financial success, neither of which will diminish. For these reasons alone TV of the future won’t disintegrate into billions of OTT on demand streams, but will remain built upon the resolutely solid base of broadcast TV – and that is very good news for viewers and advertisers.

Lewis Sherlock, commercial director EMEA at AOL Platforms

The term programmatic TV suggests real time buying in TV and is therefore confusing as this is unlikley to be feasible in the foreseeable future. More accurate is ‘audience addressable advertising’ or ‘advanced targeting’.

Very simply, audience addressable advertising enables advertisers to make their TV campaigns more effective through better targeting using advanced audience data. It is about understanding what people are watching and when, and aligning this with their non-TV consumer habits. This allows advertisers to identify TV shows that index more highly for certain attributes. Rather than targeting all men aged 18-34, they can now be more specific by adding the parameter that this group also spends a lot on travel, for example.

From a broadcaster’s perspective, matching ads to specific audiences, rather than show ratings, adds value to their inventory.

AOL Platforms has worked closely with Australian media advertising company, Multi Channel Network (MCN) to build the industry’s first programmatic platform for TV. This brings together rich consumer insights with first-party viewing data from 110,000 anonymous homes and a full range of TV inventory across all day-parts.

As a result, Australia is widely regarded as leading the field in advanced targeting. The US is also making significant strides, but the UK is held back by its market structure limiting the access to the all-important set top box data. Companies like AOL Platforms are therefore working with key partners to find creative ways to overcome this challenge.

Guy Bradbury, executive creative director at Atomic London

A lot has been written about the death of the traditional TV spot. And when I posed this question to a behaviour scientist at the DRUM Live event last year he certainly backed up this statement. Outside prime time TV viewing, many TV spots no longer create an emotional connection with the audience like they used to over the last 60 years.

Of course there are exceptions to this rule. Take a gorilla playing the drums for Cadbury or the great spots for John Lewis. Aside from them being brilliant ideas, these ads are also wildly anticipated by the audience. PR has already done a good job, to build up the hype. With many people searching for them before they have been aired.

Or take programme sponsorship, when done right and people have tuned in for a particular interest area, they are more likely to be engaged by a sponsorship indent that fits into this interest area. And less likely whenit bares no relevance.

And of course there will always be the big event TV spots like the ones during the FIFA World Cup. Again we have tuned in to watch two teams from different countries play football, and we quite enjoying seeing the same stars in ads showing them preparing for a game or re-writing the script.

But lets face it, most of the other spots, don¹t cut through. And here are two reasons why?

Firstly, the industry is flooded with rational campaigns. That make no attempt to be emotional, let alone creative. Leading to 96% of UK advertising being forgotten or remembered negatively.

Secondly when it comes to emotional engagement context is everything. And here lies the problem. The existing ad break format gives brands very little control for context.

So how can we help brands to build an emotional connection?

Very simple, we need to think about the context that people are watching the TV spot. And start thinking about the audience as an individual and not an average target audience. And this I think programmatic TV will come into play in the next 60 years.

As more and more programmers and distributers reinvent the TV format and creative agencies embrace the opportunity, brands will be able to get even more specific with their targeting and messages. Not only that, but viewers won¹t get inundated with repetitive, irrelevant ads.

One thing is for sure. The 30-second spot is not dead. Great emotional film is here to stay. It¹s just that over the next 60 years we will see it get even more personal.

Nick Reid, managing director at TubeMogul

Creativity over the 60 years since that time has changed leaps and bounds. No longer do we have the long, drawn-out narratives with plummy accents that the Gibbs SR toothpaste featured. Visuals have also come ahead as we don’t have to deal with the perils of frozen water. Yet, the method of booking an ad has changed very little. Sure, we can pinpoint the break we want an ad to appear and pay supplements for positioning. But, the actual process remains very paperwork driven and takes an average of six weeks to close without penalties. Creativity will continue to change and alter – as it has over the past 60 years – but booking, planning and targeting is where the next 60 years of innovation is going. The future is here and the future is programmatic.

Aside from the time and efficiency-savings the removal of paperwork and lengthy booking periods, we need to alter the way TV advertising is booked and planned in order to ensure it is more targeted and works harder for the advertiser. We fight and fight for maximum efficiency on digital video. Studies have shown that the consumer enjoys video across multiple mediums – mobile, online and traditional set-top. If the consumer is changing, then the medium needs to change with it. Why do we argue for pinpointed audiences online yet swallow the message that TV is all about mass market?

Currently, the broadcasters are most concerned with the ability to clear ads via Clearcast before they go to air. But that’s only a problem if we look at programmatic TV as an RTB method. Programmatic TV is more than that. At its very basic level, it is simply the use of technology to complete the ad buy. Implementing programmatic TV allows advertisers to take their data and overlay it with external data sources, including those of the broadcaster to better determine where they want to place their ads. Doing this using technology also allows advertisers the ability to cut down on the time needed to book an ad. Imagine being able to book an ad to go live within days of transmission rather than weeks. This would give advertisers the ability to control brand messages during times of crisis or take advantage of periods in the news cycle when positive mentions could be leveraged.

Jonathan Trimble, chief executive of 18 Feet & Rising

Wallowing in the nostalgia of 60 years of TV advertising has two benefits. One, it’s a reminder that when you hit a home run you make a brand immortal. Two, those doing the wallowing will be mostly dead in sixty years time. Which is fantastically exciting. There will be nothing to remember from the era where advertising media brought people together rather than split them apart. Those that do last will still need incontinence pants and be spammed every 8 seconds with messages that only have the advertiser’s interests at heart.

For the rest, we can count on creativity to cut through. Because it’s natural, primal and inevitable. And brands need it to sell. Though we may be enjoy them more individually, there will still be sound, film and static images that induce brands and consumers to drop their respective guards to enjoy a few seconds together. These will look remarkably like the ones we’re celebrating tonight. Warning - looking at these favourites, a cold spotlight is fading up on the fact that it appears to have all ended somewhere around Christmas 2010. Based on my analysis of decades where technology was materially impacting advertising, expect the next creative breakthrough around July 2017.

Christy Stewart-Smith, managing director The Gate

Before Commercial TV, advertising was predominantly informative. Offer-led, proposition based; solving problems, actual and created. Once inserted in an entertainment-based medium like TV, we discovered you could productively trade entertainment for brain-space to do your pitch as well.

And it worked, long before we truly understood that the physical offer and message was the least important contributor to long-term sales effect. By associating brands with positive emotional associations and brand assets, we built familiarity, which drove consideration.

Over the next 60 years, perhaps we’ll see a true revolution in real-time relevance. Now that we’re all using a/v (in real-time and pre-recorded) to communicate and carrying the means to do so in our pockets, we’ll surely see an explosion in high-quality personalised messaging that responds to customer mindset, mood and location, and close to the point of purchase/decision, wherever that may be. It’ll be deliverable at scale too, which will be fun.

And surely that 3-D R2D2 holo-projector thingie (Star Wars, 1977) will be with us by then too?

Chris Pearce, ‎joint chief executive at TMW Unlimited

It's 7.15pm on 22 September 2075. Sir Bruce Forsyth has just been wheeled onto stage. One of the early examples of cryonic revival, Forsyth is unable to perform his trademark 'the Thinker' pose due to a chronic outburst of gout in the early 2020s meant his feet had to be replaced by coasters.

Forsyth is one of those few entertainers who can draw a live audience of more than 20 people. Collective viewing moments - the so-called 'water cooler moments' - disappeared at about the same time that water moments also became considered obsolete. Personalised viewing has meant that the majority of the world's TV is consumed through the iLens - a piece of Apple technology that is easily inserted into the iris with just a few slashes of the scalpel to the eye. Consequently advertising is now so personalised and so aware of all your data and deepest thoughts, that it has moved beyond the old interruption and engagement models of old to one of control. Gibbs SR toothpaste continues to be an important part of TV advertising just as it did 120 years previously – it is burned straight onto the eyelids of those who do not comply and persist with dirty gums.

Rik Moore, head of creative strategy at Havas Media

Ever-improving accessibility and the rights ownership issue that creates will shape the future of TV. Tech advancements will ensure that the experience we get in our homes - the benchmark of our expectations - will be replicated on the move. Accessibility gives the audience an expectation to pick and choose what they watch, which will see the evolution of different pricing models, as market-by-market deals are replaced by a desire for universal access. For advertisers, rights holders and distribution platforms, it is about how the data exchanges this creates are utilised and monetised to deliver audiences at scale.

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