By Mike Nutley , Editor

May 6, 2021 | 5 min read

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The era of advanced TV advertising has begun, creating new capabilities for the medium and promising to make television advertising even more effective. But it also means greater complexity for the broadcasters, advertisers and agencies trying to unlock those capabilities and capitalize on that promise.

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Thinkbox joined forces with The Drum to create Navigating the new TV in the 2020s

So Thinkbox, the marketing body for commercial TV in the UK, joined forces with The Drum to create Navigating today’s TV, an online discussion intended to explore what advanced TV advertising is, what it can do for advertisers, and what still needs to be done to realize the potential of the biggest change to TV advertising since the arrival of color.

Defining advanced TV

The obvious place to start is agreeing what advanced TV advertising actually is. Matt Hill, director of research & planning at Thinkbox, defined it as: “The new ways in which you can use TV for more dynamic advertising opportunities, so it’s one-to-one household – or one-to-one device – targeting, and everything that brings with it.”

Vicky Fox, chief planning officer at the media agency OMD, put it slightly differently.

“Advanced TV is anything that uses TV content, but with more sophisticated targeting techniques,” she says. “In that camp I’d put things like Sky’s AdSmart, and sophisticated data-based targeting across broadcaster VOD or on-demand channels.”

Advanced TV has emerged at a time when people are changing how they watch TV, flexing their viewing across live and on demand.

“The world is rapidly changing, so the fundamental thing for advertisers is that they now need to plan across the whole of TV – broadcast and video-on-demand – in order to drive the high levels of cost-effective reach that people use TV for,” Hill said.

This is particularly true of younger people. More competition for their viewing time means it’s getting more difficult and more expensive to reach high volumes of young viewers through linear TV alone.

“However, just because you’re seeing that younger audiences are watching less commercial TV than they were 10 years ago, don’t say ‘Let’s not bother with TV, we’re going to go down these other routes’,” Hill said. “TV can still provide a real core level of reach for many brands. And if you get your creative, right, then it can really sing.”

What is exciting advertisers

Dom Dwight, marketing director of the tea company Taylors of Harrogate, highlighted two capabilities of advanced TV technology that he sees as particularly exciting for advertisers: data-based hyper-targeting and increased speed of response.

“Especially for a brand like Yorkshire tea, which has grown really fast, at some point we are going to start needing to tap into those audiences that are harder to reach, that don’t watch TV as much. And targeting so we’re not wasting money is going to be key,” he said. “The other thing is the shortening of the lead times and the agility that brings. There’s no point having this amazing data if the systems around it are cumbersome, because the data will be obsolete by the time you’re acting on it.”

Work to be done

The key to advanced TV technology is the first-party data held by the broadcasters; registration data in the case of BVOD and customer data for Sky. On its own, this enables advertisers to target by location, demographics and viewing habits. It can also be combined with advertisers’ own data to allow data-matching, find lookalike audiences, and target custom audiences. These rewards come at the price of extra complexity for advertisers and agencies.

So the industry has work to do to make planning and buying advanced TV as simple as possible. One of the biggest problems here is measurement.

“Measurement is still where we come unstuck,” Fox said. “We have to map together panel data from TV and probabilistic data from online to get what we think is a fairly robust view of a total TV campaign reach and frequency. But we have to be very aware of the component parts that go into making up that decision. We need to understand how they work together in each of those different buying routes.”

The good news, as Hill pointed out, is that the broadcasters all recognize this is something they have to work on together, because there needs to be a single solution.

“If we could fast-forward 10 years and have one buying platform for all of TV, for all the advanced opportunities and all the linear opportunities, with all the agility and flexibility that advertisers wish for, there is no doubt that the TV industry would be in better health, providing more effective solutions and making more money. The challenge is that getting there is incredibly complicated, but that’s the direction that we’re heading in.”

Watch the full Navigating the new TV discussion above.

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Thinkbox is the marketing body for commercial TV in the UK, in all its forms. It works with the marketing community with a single ambition: to help advertisers get...

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