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The Drum

Broadcasters are finally starting to think like marketers and want to trade TV using the customer journey

Sky wants to be able to plan and trade its TV media to match the customer journey as advertisers like Vodafone realise the role the medium can play in driving business objectives when baked fully into an integrated media plan.

TV’s influence on the media mix is at a high point; media acounts on average for 39 per cent of sales in the short and medium term, a third of which is driven by TV, according to a Thinkbox report by GroupM. However, understanding that value is tricky and consequently means broadcasters, advertisers and agencies would rather to stick to what they know best – trading media using a cost per thousand model.

Sky Media is one broadcaster trying to buck the trend and is looking at outcome trading to elevate the value of its media. It’s easier said than done and means convincing an industry which has a mindset of questioning why they would pay more if they've got the cheapest cost per thousand, said head of response trading Cath Crow at a Thinkbox event.

“They’re not “paying more, you’re just getting more,” she said. “We need to look at the cost per outcome and look at what the client needs and what we need as a media owner. At the moment there’s no trading that matches the customer journey and that’s what’s needed to plan around.”

Better measurement could be a starting point, though many advertisers are put off by the level of investment needed and how granular they would have to go. As TV advertising touches so many other channels, tracking it to sale is difficult. Vodafone thinks it’s on the right path, claiming it is able to look at the impact its advertising is having on sales through an omnichannel lens.

David Still, head of brand strategy and operations at Vodafone, said at the same event that it can now see that “search is having a bigger impact on retail sales than it first thought,” for example. “We're trying to make testing become part of our DNA,” he added. “Everything we do should have testing at the heart of it.”

But many brands aren’t thinking like this, instead relying on outdated data to slice and dice audiences or not having any data at all. Vodafone’s endeavours, while expensive, have allowed it to focus more on coverage over frequency, and more importantly, start challenging the current trading model. Still outlined Vodafone’s model, which allows it to optimise both short and longer term objectives, taking into account the impact of TV through the entire customer journey.

Despite the appetite for moving away from price-driven media buying, it doesn’t mean advertisers will neccessarily have to fork out more for media. “The two aren’t mutually exclusive things,” argued David Beale, head of response at MediaCom.

“You still want to get a cracking price for whatever air time you want to buy. To move away from that concept of buying TV cost efficiently would be an error. Yes I agree 100 per cent that you need to think about the outcome, and it’s possible that we could flex cost per thousands to be more specific to what we buy as long as it delivers an ROI.”

Until a robust enough model emerges, Sky Media is safeguarding for further media fragementation by beefing up its targeting credentials. The media sales house is now using data-led customer insights to bring more parity to the media dynamic, giving buyers the option to overlay its data to execute both on Sky’s media channels, as well as its other digital properties such as YouTube, etc.

“If you start targeting your audience and following them throughout the day between devices then that’s going to safeguard your response,” said Sky Media’s Crow. “That’s something that Sky are looking at very closely at the moment. To safeguard would be to be buy much more on an audience led trade as opposed to the scatter gun approach.”

For this to happen, there needs to be some “rigour” behind the customer journey, according to Andrew Challier, ‎strategic marketing investment advisor at marketing analytics specialists Ebiquity.

“There have been many false dawns over the last few years insofar as everytime something new comes out we rush to it. It’s like a Hollywood blockbuster where you’ve got all the special effects and it overtakes the film and then there’s no story anymore. We need to be a lot less CGI and a lot more CSI [with measurement]."