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Where does TV go from here? RTL AdConnect and The Drum breakfast panel

There’s a good chance you’re reading this article on the same device you watch your favorite TV show. Consumers around the world are enjoying on-demand, multi-platform television content. But as audiences migrate, advertisers need to adapt. The Drum, in association with RTL AdConnect, held a panel to evaluate the TV landscape and discuss how advertisers and their media partners can work to recapture shifting audiences.

According to 2018 TV Key Facts study from RTL AdConnect, TV ads are responsible for 71% of the total profit generated by advertising globally. With digital platforms and video-on-demand disrupting the space, those dollars are standing on shaky ground.

“We as media companies need to reach consumers where they are,” said Stéphane Coruble, chief executive at RTL AdConnect, “So besides linear TV, we’re developing a lot of online capacities… But also we try to make it simple for advertisers to reach their consumers through simplified products that we put on the market, and multiple markets because we operate in 12 countries.”

Advertising isn’t going away any time soon. As audiences populate new platforms, the media landscape evolves and brands find new entryways. Stephanie Junge-Filipek, senior media manager at TripAdvisor, said the future of TV will have to look different to allow for modern advertising.

Advertisers’ relationship with media

“It’s going to make sense for most of these video providers or content providers to have some sort of free version and a subscription version. For the free version, it’s just like TV. Someone’s got to pay for it. I think advertisers will still be in the mix,” she said.

Junge-Filipek added that the advertiser-media partner relationship needs to mature at the same pace as the TV ecosystem.

“Media partners can help simplify things and provide more transparency by just taking the time to meet with us as advertisers. For me I think it’s important to also have a relationship with the media owners, in addition to your own agency. A lot of really key learnings can come out of these discussions with the owners,” Junge-Filipek said.

TV audiences and safety concerns

Advertisers are already teasing out new ways of entering the changing medium. Pivotal Research senior analyst Brian Wieser said advertisers are realizing the potential of audience-based buying, an approach that reaches the same TV audience in a new environment, while also helping media owners drive inventory that might otherwise go unsold.

“Obviously there are limits to this because advertisers still need some level of brand safety, but broadly speaking for traditional television there is an opportunity to use some inventory for audience-based trading,” Wieser said.

Brand safety concerns are legitimate, but following TV online can quell those concerns. Keith Hindle, chief executive of digital and branded entertainment at FreemantleMedia, said brand safety concerns have changed how his company works with advertisers for the better.

“it’s made us double down on our high-quality TV IP. We take our big TV brands, like the [American] Idol brand and the X Factor brand, around the world. They do extremely well in TV; we extend them onto digital platforms where they do equally well,” said Hindle.

“Some advertisers were concerned [about brand safety]. We found those concerned advertisers had a rush to quality, which is they wanted to buy around high quality, brand-safe TV. For us, that’s been very much a positive.”

Obviously, advertisers see value in the modern TV space, but as the landscape starts to crystalize, brands are finding innovative inroads to reach audiences. Who knows what TV will look like in five years, but we know for sure advertisers will find their space.

Meanwhile, the 2018 TV Key Facts study suggests that far from being on its last legs, TV is alive, kicking and evolving. The study which covers 39 countries including 35 European countries as well as India, China, and Japan, covered the US for the first time and compared European TV behavior to that of our friends over the pond.

The scale of the US advertising market is already phenomenal with a record of €174bn spent in the US last year, with Europeans raking up around 60% of that figure with a spend of €103bn, according to the study. The share of TV has been remarkably steady over the long term in EU’s market and experts consulted as part of the TV Key Facts study expect both Americas and European key markets to grow in advertising investment this year.