Rival broadcasters Channel 4, ITV and Sky join forces to pitch value of TV advertising

Channel 4, ITV and Sky are joining forces to launch The Big TV Festival

Channel 4, ITV and Sky are set to put their rivalries aside and collaborate on a number of projects, including a two-day festival for media planners and marketers, that looks to safeguard the future of commercial TV.

The event, called The Big TV Festival, is a "unprecedented" collaboration between the three broadcasters and Thinkbox, the marketing body for commercial TV. The two-day festival will take place in February 2018 on a set created in the Blackwood Forest, Hampshire.

Media agencies and advertisers are being invited to nominate members of their teams to attend the event, which is open to 150 planners and marketers from across the UK.

The aim of the festival is to communicate TV's effectiveness for advertisers, reiterating the safety of the medium at a time when the efficacy of digital advertising is being called into question, as well as the technological innovations happening within the TV space with advancements in addressable TV.

Crucial to the pitch will be communicating how TV is evolving to become an effective medium for marketers "now and in the future" as traditional advertising from TV to news print faces increased competition from fast-growing online players.

The festival will feature a mixture of sessions that will "immerse" attendees in the world of TV. Sessions will focus on key areas of TV: shows, audiences, and what the medium offers brands. Guests will hear from TV programme-makers about the craft of TV, the latest formats, how hit TV shows are made, as well as hearing about the latest developments in TV advertising.

Kelly Williams, managing director of commercial at ITV, said the festival embodies a "renewed spirit of collaboration in TV."

Outside of the event, the three broadcasters will also be collaborating on creative partnerships such as Channel 4 and ITV’s first-ever joint brand campaign for the Alzheimer's Society in April this year, a project that was revealed by Jonathan Allan, sales director at Channel 4 at the broadcaster’s Upfronts earlier in the month.

The two also joined forces in July to promote 20th Century Fox’s War for the Planet of the Apes, which saw each simultaneously broadcasting ads that directed viewers to the other channel for the first time.

“Alongside Thinkbox, you will see much more collaboration from us with ITV and Sky, with more creative partnerships and much more collective discussions with all the people in this room about what you want from the future of TV,” said Allan, addressing a room of Channel 4’s biggest advertisers from Dentsu Aegis Network and Omnicom Media Group (GroupM and Publicis were addressed on a separate night).

While both Channel 4 and ITV recorded a sales lift during the months that succeeded YouTube's brand safety crisis in February, Channel 4's Allan admitted in July the lift was "temporary" as most advertisers went back to the platform once assurances were made.

With YouTube being hit by a third investigation last week, and a number of high-profile brands including Adidas, Mars and Lidl pulling spend once more, the announcement of the festival is a timely reminder to brands of the safety of TV as an advertising medium.

Speaking on the festival, Allan said: “It's extremely important for us as a TV industry to demonstrate to key decision-makers within client and agency organisations how brilliant TV is. This festival will see UK broadcasters joining together with Thinkbox to showcase all of our creativity, tech innovation and effectiveness.”

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