As part of its recent Digital Summit, The Drum, in association with FreeWheel, recently hosted a unique panel session to discuss the results of a new FreeWheel survey on the future of Advanced TV.
Broadcast from The Drum Labs in East London, the session - which took the form of a ‘Wheel of Fortune’ style game show - was chaired by Lynn Lester, managing director of events at The Drum. She was joined by Emmanuel Josserand, senior director, brand, agency, and industry relations at FreeWheel; Nicolas Grand, senior vice president, transformation, global investment at Omnicom Media Group; and Hannah Bowler, modern marketing reporter at The Drum.
FreeWheel’s latest research, Advanced TV Uncovered: The Marketers’ Perspective, explores the spending priorities for European marketers and expectations for the year ahead based on 577 marketing decision makers or influencers in Italy, the UK, France, Germany, and Spain. Produced in collaboration with CoLab Media Consulting, the report covers a range of findings from the current dynamic of the advertising market, the key drivers encouraging Advanced TV, to perspectives and investments in Advanced TV channels and key measurement priorities.
The panel session was centered around FreeWheel’s ‘Wheel of Findings’, which was spun to select a topic for discussion. FreeWheel’s Josserand was then given just 90 seconds to introduce the research’s findings on that subject, before the other panelists weighed in. Josserand set the tone of the session by suggesting the latest developments in Advanced TV should give cause for optimism among marketers. He said: “Our research found that 31% of European marketers surveyed expect their overall marketing budget to increase in the next twelve months, a net budget improvement of plus 4%. That may sound small, but when you compare it to the -44% we experienced last year, it’s a massive jump’’.
“When we look at Advanced TV more specifically - by which we mean VOD (video on demand), CTV (connected TV), OTT (Over the Top), data-driven linear and addressable TV services, 73% of the marketers we surveyed across Europe confirmed they will increase investment in Advanced TV over the next twelve months. That's more than twice the increase in the overall marketing budget, showing the massive appetite for Advanced TV right now.”
Grand added his own media spending insights from an agency perspective: “Digital spend was the real success story of the pandemic. You could argue that the pandemic has helped digital grow its share of the total media pie more quickly that it would have otherwise.
“More recently, linear TV advertising spend is returning to pre-pandemic levels. The media types that are still struggling are traditional non-programmatic out-of-home and print budgets. We don't think these will ever get back to pre-COVID levels, because more budgets are migrating to programmatic and digital. The increased growth expectation for advanced TV relative to the total media span is being driven by the advertisers’ need to follow audiences wherever they go. In 2021, that means we need to be wherever our audiences are consuming premium video content."
On the subject of increased optimism around Advanced TV in particular, Bowler commented on the huge leaps UK broadcasters have made towards facilitating programmatic solutions for advertisers. She said: “The last 12 months from a broadcast perspective has been phenomenal. We're finally seeing channels like Channel 4 and ITV really start to embrace digital-first commissioning and scheduling, which is a huge boost to the prospects of Advanced TV. The broadcasters are getting on board and getting their programming in line with where the money is. Channel 4’s latest strategy is to achieve half their viewership via All4, their streaming platform.”
Omnicom’s Grand said: “Advanced TV allows better targeting, dynamic creative optimization, lets you build custom audiences using first party data, and so on, but that’s true of any media budget that goes through the programmatic pipe. Where Advanced TV really stands out is in its unique ability to extend the reach of linear TV with the same premium video content and, very often, on bigger screens at home. That, has a lot of impact.”
“Advertisers don't want to lose the ability to deliver quality reach awareness on TV, so are increasingly opting for a mix of linear and OTT. Advanced TV inventory is being bought currently based on metrics around performance, but I think that ‘extending reach’ will become more of a factor as no other programmatic vehicle offers the same advantages as Advanced TV right now.”
Josserand described a subtle shift in how brands are approaching campaign measurement on Advanced TV. He said: “In last year’s survey, when we asked about factors inhibiting the growth of Advanced TV, the lack of accurate audience measurement was the thing most commonly mentioned. This year, it’s all about ‘effectiveness’ more broadly. Those promoting Advanced TV marketing solutions have a massive opportunity to prove the value of the channel over the next twelve months. Our survey suggests that brands and their agencies are ready to move quickly and be convinced of Advanced TV’s many advantages.
“Advanced TV is experiencing double digit growth at the moment, and I think that growth will definitely carry on over the next year or so. The more familiar marketers are with a channel, the more they tend to spend on it. As we evolve and there's more education around the benefits of Advanced TV, we'll see even more investments in the channel.”