Against a backdrop of uncertainty and evolving consumer viewing habits, the TV advertising industry faces an interesting period, where those who can adapt intelligently will not only survive but thrive. The outlook is positive, with GroupM’s end of year forecast predicting 10% growth in TV advertising in 2021, but this will require the industry to be agile and adjust to a rapidly changing market.
This adaptation is already well underway, with a recent survey finding emerging channels in the Advanced TV ecosystem are on track for significant growth. In fact a remarkable 70% of UK marketers surveyed expect to spend more on Advanced TV advertising in next 12 months. Here are just a few of the key trends we expect to see in the Advanced TV space in 2021.
Unification across channels and devices
With consumers spending so much time at home over the last year, content consumption has soared. Broadcast TV viewing is high, peaking at three hours and 46 minutes per adult, per day during the first UK lockdown in April 2020. But with total audio-visual content consumption reaching six hours and 25 minutes per day, it’s clear viewers are also using a variety of other channels and platforms. Today’s audiences don’t distinguish between linear TV and other types of on-demand video, especially if it is all delivered to the TV set. They are also used to watching TV and video content on a variety of screens, such as smartphones and desktops.
Advertisers want to reach audiences wherever and however they are watching content, which is driving unification of TV advertising between platforms and devices. Media owners must respond to this need by finding ways to sell and execute inventory across all channels and screens in a holistic way. Progress is already being made towards this goal; for instance using ad decisioning tools for digital / linear schedule optimisation, but there is still some way to go to achieve true unification.
A rise in connected TV advertising
Connected TV (CTV) refers to a television set that is connected to the internet. This can be via an external device such as a streaming box or a games console, or through the device’s own in-built capabilities in the case of smart TVs. Connected TV advertising is a promising element of the Advanced TV ecosystem for a number of reasons. It provides access to desirable audiences who may be harder to reach via traditional channels, and it attracts engaged viewers; with 97% of all CTV ads watched to completion. By providing a highly relevant ad viewing experience, CTV advertising drives significant lift in brand awareness and favourability, while ensuring ads are viewed in a premium, brand safe environment.
According to the CoLab research, marketing respondents in the UK see CTV advertising as a valuable tool to drive objectives at all levels of the funnel, including acquiring new customers, retaining existing customers, growing revenue and driving ROI. They expect ad spend in the channel to grow by a significant 7% this year, especially as challenges around measurement are overcome, enabling them to prove efficiency and ROI.
Availability of addressable inventory
While traditional linear TV is still the best way to achieve scale, advertisers want to supplement this channel and attain incremental reach through data-driven targeting. Addressable TV enables advertisers to access niche or hard to reach audiences and deliver different ads to individual households during the same ad break, according to a variety of data points such as location, interests and family situation.
But advertisers don’t want to work individually with broadcasters and programmers to make the most of addressable TV. They want access to large volumes of premium addressable inventory and to buy it using a common set of formats, standards and audience segments. Media owners and operators will need to collaborate, even when that means working with direct competitors, to meet advertiser needs. They can take inspiration from US initiatives such as On Addressability, and project OAR (Open Addressable Ready) which are promoting scalable capabilities across formats as well as shared technology for addressable advertising.
UK media companies are already working together to deliver addressable opportunities. Sky, Virgin Media and Channel 4 are all partnering on AdSmart, for example. Further collaboration over the coming year will increase availability of addressable inventory and enable a more streamlined offering, encouraging marketers to invest.
The TV advertising industry is operating in an environment that is in constant flux. But by adapting intelligently to changing advertiser needs and consumer behaviours, and by embracing emerging solutions such as CTV and addressable advertising as part of a unified ecosystem, the industry can look forward to a year of positive change.