campaignlive.co.uk, Friday, 26 November 2004 12:00AM
It may strike some as ironic that one of the first decisions the company made in its attempt to boost revenues during the past year was to stop acting like a TV sales house. The rules for TV trading were established well over 30 years ago, IDS reasoned, and they were in dire need of updating for the digital world. It needed to contemporise itself, as well as restructure its business around a new breed of client with great expectations.
At the same time as it was looking to rework its sales model, it had to cope with two rather intimidating realities: one, that ITV's performance dictates the entire market; two, that terrestrial channels are still the automatic choice for advertisers who rarely have the time to think about a medium that has failed to set the world alight since its inception.
It was clear that IDS was some way from the top of clients' shopping lists in the TV trading community.
Its solution was to play to its strengths as the newcomer and take on the role of a challenger brand. It decided to take the cerebral higher ground as a "thought leader", a move demonstrated by the publication of its book on the future of television, The New Medium of Television. It was to become the company that stood for change, not just within itself but for interactive TV as a whole.
Armed with the rather clunky but nevertheless well-meaning "working harder to make TV work harder" corporate ethos, IDS revamped its sales team structure with flexibility in mind, ensuring that its staff were set up to share information from a central source to produce more creative, relevant solutions across any of its channels.
A cute example is the mini-films IDS created for Ikea, which ran on UKTV Style and Bright Ideas. The vignettes feature an animated character in the style of Changing Rooms' Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen (with Alexi Sayle's voice) who flies into people's houses to transform their decor.
IDS also had a hand in improving its channel content - it now gives commercial recommendations to its channel editors. In fact, it was IDS that came up with the business plan for the launch of UKTV G2, a platform it could use to sell to advertisers targeting young men.
It also did a lot of research into how its channels are watched. The channel even claims it conducted the widest-ever research study to get a better understanding of how to hold on to viewers through the advertising breaks. The study led to changes in the way its ad breaks are configured.
David Jowett, the deputy broadcast director at MediaCom, said of IDS's repositioning: "There is no doubt IDS was the surprise package in the negotiation season and is the one to watch in the market."
The change has done the trick for IDS, a company that seems to have genuinely outmanoeuvred the market. While the TV market as a whole crept up by a less-than-spectacular 3 per cent year on year last year, IDS's revenues soared by comparison, up 18 per cent. In 2004, it left its rivals Sky, five, Channel 4 and ITV trailing in its wake in terms of both adult impacts and revenue.
This article was first published on campaignlive.co.uk