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UK broadcasters set for ‘big digital fight’ as cross media measurement tool hits beta

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By Hannah Bowler | Journalist

April 4, 2022 | 5 min read

Speaking at The Big TV Fest, commercial leaders at UK broadcasters ITV, Channel 4 and Sky have said they’re ready for a “big digital fight” to win ad dollars back into TV upon the beta-testing of cross-media measurement tool CFlight. It helps advertisers understand audience reach in linear and video-on-demand (VOD) channels – a feature they’ve long been lobbying for.

TV fight

ITV, Channel 4 and Sky have said they’re ready for a ‘big digital fight’

The tool is being touted as the first UK solution that combines broadcast VOD (BVOD) and linear campaign data from across the broadcasters, and has been in development for a few years. CFlight was first founded in NBC Universal’s ranks in 2018 before the tech subsequently crossed the Atlantic as part of the Sky/Comcast deal. Now it has seen Sky collaborating with ITV and C4 to join the dots between separate TV mediums and give marketers a better idea of the effectiveness of their media.

“Being able to look at that cross-platform measurement is going to be really important because one of the fastest ways to increase reach and mitigate the frequency issue is to see how TV VOD works in line with linear and other channels,” said Verica Djurdjevic, chief revenue officer at C4.

“That straight line between budgets and effectiveness will look different because of those new capabilities that will come into the products we can offer,” she added.

The tool will cover 98% of all UK broadcaster advertising, with the likes of STV, UKTV and Paramount (formally ViacomCBS) channels also covered. It attempts to solve TV’s fragmented viewing issue and offer advertisers other functions such as comprehensive exposure measurement across devices, platforms and apps, and will only measure 100% completed impressions as soon as is technically feasible.

“We’ve needed to deal with that almost addictive nature of digital measurement where people want to know every nitty-gritty detail, and its almost gamification by going into your campaign and seeing what your campaign has done,” said Dev Sangani, advertising capability and strategy director at Sky Media Group.

CFlight will add to the metrics available on Sky Ad Smart and ITV’s addressable tool Planet V. Sangani said it’s healthy to have multiple solutions. “It isn’t always about having more of the same,” he said, “it’s about playing with that mix and figuring out where the tipping point is, and that is where the magic happens.”

Sangani added that broadcaster collaboration has been key to CFlight’s development and will be fundamental to its success. He said to expect more collaboration as they put competition aside to “take on the big digital fight.”

Elsewhere, Djurjevic tackled the “big thorny topic” of TV ad inflation. While she acknowledged prices had increased, she reminded planners to consider “how cheap or expensive something is depends on what you are comparing it with, and in real terms TV is cheaper than it was five years ago, but it’s inflated against the cost last year.”

She raised the value versus cost debate and asked: “You want something that is contextually relevant, that drives fame – even if it’s more expensive than it was last year. Would you have half of the ratings you thought you were going to get or 100% of the Facebook views that are viewed contextually differently and not viewed in a shared environment?”

Inflation is primarily occurring in the 16-24 audience segment because of declining viewership. Djurjevic said broadcasters need to focus on creating content that pulls in younger viewers: “That is a really important structural point.”

ITV Commercial’s managing director Kelly Williams also spoke at the event, where he plotted the broadcaster’s eventual switch-off.

“What is going to happen in the next five to 10 years, TV is going to transition to deliver TV by the internet, and when we do that it opens up a tonne of opportunities for advertisers with data and addressable,” Williams said.

He added that in addressable, ITV is working hard to innovate to make TV buying easier for future planners.

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