ITV role vital in digital era, Longhurst claims

The advertising industry must stop whingeing about ITV and be more supportive of the UK’s largest commercial channel as audiences fragment in the digital era, delegates at Campaign’s Digital Television conference were told this week.

The advertising industry must stop whingeing about ITV and be more

supportive of the UK’s largest commercial channel as audiences fragment

in the digital era, delegates at Campaign’s Digital Television

conference were told this week.



According to Paul Longhurst, the media director of Ammirati Puris

Lintas, ITV will become increasingly important as a communications tool

to leverage large, quality audiences as the industry moves to a fully

fledged multi-channel environment.



Longhurst told delegates at the conference, What’s On Channel 400

Tonight?, that they should change their attitude towards ITV, investing

more in the channel and treating it as a marketing partner.



’What we should do is accept that the value of ITV as the main delivery

vehicle for mass-market audiences in the future is not necessarily the

same as price,’ Longhurst said, with reference to continuing complaints

about the rising cost of advertising on ITV.



At the same time, agencies should make ITV more accountable through

guaranteed investment in quality programmes that attract good audiences,

he argued.



If ITV were to continue at its current rate of decline, Longhurst

predicted that by the year 2005 its audience share would have fallen by

10 per cent to 22 per cent. At the same time, around 11 million homes

could be hooked up to multi-channel TV by 2005 and the majority of those

would access it via digital technology, he said.



Edward Lloyd Barnes, a director of the Negotiation Centre, told

delegates that, for major advertisers, the introduction of digital TV

would lead to price rises on mainstream channels and a reduction of TV’s

ability to build short-term cover. For minor advertisers, however,

digital would mean a cheaper entry price and greater opportunities for

niche targeting.



Richard Burdett, the vice-president of marketing for Flextech, gave the

media owner’s perspective, telling delegates that more channels would

mean new advertising opportunities. He said channels would concentrate

less on competing to maximise their share of impacts and look at

creating solus ad breaks, shorter breaks and even themed breaks to make

commercials work harder.



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