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Media Future of Media Sky

Future of Media: Sky's Glass ceiling, media buyers stick by Facebook


By John McCarthy | Opinion editor

October 7, 2021 | 9 min read

Welcome to your weekly Future of Media briefing from media editor John McCarthy. You can get a more comprehensive version sent to your inbox here - if you'd prefer.

Sky TV Glass

Sky’s Glass Ceiling

UK telecom giant Sky has pivoted (a word I do not use lightly). It has released a streaming TV, but not as a gimmick or a side-gig – it seriously wants a huge amount of its customers to buy into it.

There’s no more satellite connection needed, just that sweet, sweet broadband connection (as brought to you by... Sky). For fans of the tidy TV cabinet, there’s no need for a set-top box and it even has a built-in soundbar. And it’s not particularly expensive either, the cost factored into the monthly bill.

So Sky’s now in the streaming business and the hardware business. More launch details here. But come back Friday October 8 for an explanation of the UK’s biggest-ever product launch (with a huge media spend).

Two things interest me.

One: retention. You’re less likely to leave Sky if it’s literally driving the brain of your TV. If that user experience is as good as I’m told, many won’t argue the value exchange and Pay-TV shrugs off any claims of irrelevancy.

Two: CTV advertising. During its Future of TV deep-dive, The Drum explained how the top players in TV are fighting to control the TV dashboard. On a standard smart TV, Sky won’t always be the first software to boot up, risking the erosion of viewers to the likes of Samsung’s inbuilt software. Owning the full viewer journey will give Sky a leg up in the CTV battle and let it send all those targeted ads to logged-in viewers more often and with more consistency.

How many people actually want or need a new TV that solves these problems? The answer sits somewhere between some and enough. Can Sky break through its Glass ceiling? One final note: HBO Max officially launched in Europe this week. No AVOD in sight (that’s just for the US market). In the UK, Sky retains that tasty, tasty catalog for the next few years.

Media on Facebook

Kendra Clark questioned numerous media buyers about how they view Facebook after what looks like the worst few weeks in its existence (bar, perhaps, Cambridge Analytica).

“Spread your risks and advertising dollars,” says one. Another hints that if the top 200 advertisers left Facebook tomorrow, it’d be fairly unperturbed. 80% of ad revenue comes from SMEs after all. Business as usual despite the outcry.

I spoke to a few top media execs off-record. Nothing earth-shattering. All of you know it’s (too?) huge, could probably be run better and should probably get its house in order. But hey, those ads seem to work well, eh?

One doubts any brand damage will stick: ”It plays such a huge role for brands. It is in society so it will take months, even years, to bring it down. A lot of the negative perceptions of Facebook are still only seen by those in the ad industry. The proud parent sharing their child’s first steps on Facebook or the happy couple celebrating their wedding on Instagram are not thinking of these issues.”

Another added: ”There’s not a lot in these dossiers that responsible marketers shouldn’t have already known... it is a problematic company in some ways, but also clearly doing huge amounts to try and solve for those problems. But if you stop your spend there and put it into open market programmatic media, you are almost definitely funding much worse.”

Until the eyeballs move, Facebook’s here to stay. We looked at the whistleblower allegations. And the six-hour Facebook outage that cost an estimated $79m in ad revenue loss.

Nielsen’s Return

Nielsen’s reputation isn’t bulletproof. However, it talked us through its plans for a comeback following its suspension from the Media Rating Council. It’s going to put more emphasis on its various content and media planning offerings that were not slated, like its TV ratings and measurement capabilities.

Learn how it is trying to improve its measurement capabilities and regain trust among media and marketing players. It believes it will get that accreditation back, and soon. Will the reality measure up to the expectation?

CTV Bits

YouTube released CTV ads that open up shopping links in connected mobile devices

And ITV’s Planet V now lets advertisers send ads based on contextual weather data in the TV environment. Expect hearty hot soup ads in the winter, frosty apple cider in the summer

Other Stuff

Read the last briefing.

Subscribe to our other ones. Please share with curious friends or ignorant colleagues... and don’t hesitate to contact me on Twitter, Linkedin and email.

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