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Future of Media: TV goes digital, CTV buying explored, smartest campaigns for top shows

The Drum's media editor John McCarthy rounds up the latest media trends each Thursday, this is also available in your inbox. Sign up here.

This is an extract from The Drum’s Future of Media briefing from media editor John McCarthy. You can subscribe to it here.

We’re almost a week into our two-week Future of TV deep dive on This is, therefore, the fattest newsletter I’ll ever send you, bringing together everything you would EVER need to know about the small screen. (And there’s even more to come: check out our dedicated hub for new daily coverage.)

Don’t worry if your media interests lie elsewhere, though, as we’ve still got the full gamut of other media covered for you later in this email. And a reminder to tune in to The Drum Awards for Online Media ceremony, hosted by yours truly, on Friday afternoon here.

The Future of Media TV

Have no doubt, TV IS digital. Consumption went and the ads followed, taking us from talking about “incremental reach in addressable TV“ to ads being dynamically inserted into live broadcasts from your Skys and ITVs. Established players.

The line between legacy/traditional broadcasting and the video upstarts blurs as both look to meld TV's brand building and digital's addressability. EVERYONE with a hand in video content has launched a streaming service (most likely with a + in the name) for this reason.

The pandemic increased TV consumption. Between furloughs, sackings, loneliness, cabin fever, or needing a distraction from those four same walls, we all watched more stuff. It helped us make the most of a bad situation, serving a social good and keeping us safe at home.

But TV had to support its own people too. Our staff writer Ellen Ormesher probed Channel 4 boss Alex Mahon on just that, examining how the broadcaster intends to fulfill its public service remit and diversity ambitions on screen and off. Mahon laid out her modern vision for a ‘traditional’ broadcaster here.

And having that vision is a must in a modern TV market where the sheer scale of choice is almost incomprehensible. Despite consuming 25 hours of TV a day for the last year, there are still millions of hours of great stuff we'll never get time to watch – and more coming. It’s intimidating actually. So, the marketeers have had to up their game to stand out in a saturated market. We picked our favourite TV marketing campaigns here (for my money, it’s #DraculaBillboard).

But perhaps we’re not paying attention to the loudest voices at home? Dylan Collins, chief executive of SuperAwesome, explored why kids are the forgotten decision-makers in the land of SVOD. It’s a competitive space – and don’t expect the participants to play nice.

So. More eyes = more ads. It’s raining CTV inventory and solutions. Hell Roku even bought Quibi’s shows. It has made the life of AV planners harder, but their possibilities have multiplied. As contextual advertising enjoys its renaissance, a new generation of ad products will target us based on what and how we consume TV. You are what you eat right? Well, I ate Tiger King three times... I’m not proud of it. So I asked some media buyers, as well as ITV, Roku and Rakuten, how to navigate the super complex world of CTV.

But it isn’t all honey and ice cream. CTV’s a young category. It’s maybe just about grown its first adult tooth. And that can bite if you’re not careful. Standards are still being set and exploits are available. Kendra Clark looked into the looming threat of bots and fraud. 79% of Americans will stick with streaming TV after the pandemic, and you can assume a lot of evil machines will look to replicate them. Here’s what you need to know.

Once the new kids on the block themselves, social video platforms may be styling themselves today as an alternative to traditional TV, but have you noticed how they’re using TV itself to spread that message? Funny that. Assistant editor Sam Bradley took a look at TikTok’s TV advertising spendwhy does it need to tell “stories” to older TV audiences?

Meanwhile, I quizzed TikTok’s Khartoon Weiss on how she got her job as head of global agency and accounts at TikTok. She shared some fascinating thoughts on the intersection of media and creative, which is handy, because she’s at the hottest app in the land. She’s got a great story.

And more generally, Havas Media innovation man Marek Wrobel dug into the eight tech innovations you need to be aware of this month. Ignoring smart TVs is not a smart move he writes: “Rather than pitting traditional and CTV in opposition, the synergies will be built by a smart test-and-learn programme in this really exciting space.” He also looks at a Pacman AR campaign from Pizza Hut and a deepfake Messi from Lays. Read it here.

Further reading

That’s all for this week. If you missed the last instalment, read it here. You can subscribe to our other briefings here. And if you want to talk to me, I’m on Twitter, Linkedin and email.