Channel 4 makes four-week advanced booking deadlines permanent

Broadcaster to stick to four-week deadline in order to give TV advertisers more long-term “flexibility”.

Great British Bake Off: Channel 4's ratings winner
Great British Bake Off: Channel 4's ratings winner

Channel 4 is scrapping the industry-standard, eight-week advanced booking deadlines and will move to a permanent four-week deadline in order to give TV advertisers more long-term “flexibility”.

The broadcaster confirmed the changes this morning, having lifted all  late-booking fees and moved to a four-week deadline in March to encourage advertising and protect its own revenue amid the coronavirus pandemic.

ITV has also temporarily scrapped late-booking fees and moved to month-long booking deadlines until “at least the end of 2020”, but a permanent four-week deadline is a significant move for a major UK TV broadcaster. 

In an email to advertisers today, Matt Salmon, Channel 4’s director of sales, said: “It is clear from client feedback, that the shortened 4-Week AB has been well received and this has contributed to the fast recovery of broadcast budgets this autumn. 

“Our primary objective is to ensure that TV remains the most effective advertising medium for you. To do this, we believe that we must ensure that the campaign that you booked is the campaign that you are delivered; a well-crafted schedule that maximises return across all the metrics that make TV such an effective advertising medium for you.”

About 90% of Channel 4’s funding comes from advertising, and the booking deadlines are for ads placed on the entire portfolio of linear broadcast channels for which it handles ad sales, including E4, UKTV and Discovery. 

It is thought that moving to a shorter deadline permanently will benefit a greater number of advertisers in the market, many of which may run more agile, digitally led or performance-driven campaigns and be put off from having to book on TV two months in advance.

Channel 4 has been encouraged by the positive feedback it has received about the shorter deadlines in place this year from clients directly and through trade body ISBA. 

The move to four weeks has meant an increase in administrative pressure for Channel 4, which has been thought to be a challenge for the broadcaster. It uses a software booking program called CamGen to take the money and schedule ads in the right place, in order to get more automation into the ads placement process.  

However, one major network media agency buyer, who declined to be named, was sceptical that many clients would be in favour of moving to shorter deadlines. He suggested that there is little appetite among major TV advertisers for a shorter booking window.

“A lot of the money that is coming into TV now is from deferred campaigns and ‘use it or lose it budgets’,” the buyer told Campaign. “In terms of the nuts and bolts of TV trading, it doesn’t really help. Clients want stability, robust forecasting and they want to know how much their ads are going to cost months in advance.”

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