With Adam Crozier’s departure and the subsequent lack of announcement of a long-term successor, the rumour mill has been in overdrive with whisperings that ITV is ripe for the picking.
They’re not alone, with four major broadcasters looking for new leadership, the TV market is undergoing a changing of the guard – is the time ripe for the next generation of television broadcaster to emerge?
There is no doubt that Crozier achieved his strategic objectives, but going forward ITV now needs to look ahead and ensure they have a strong leader at the helm who appreciates the power of TV and what it can do long-term.
The TV industry as a whole is facing threats from digital powerhouses, in the form of BT, Google, Facebook and the rest of their ilk, so it’s crucial it steps up and defines its future role to remain relevant without undermining what makes TV so appealing to advertisers.
Key to this will be assessing the way in which the TV advertising market is traded and structured. Any successor at ITV needs to consider how to reflect the increasing demand for online inventory, programmatic targeting and cross-platform optimisation to future-proof their business, which means the broadcast market and model could undergo a huge and exciting transformation.
The trick for ITV and broadcasters more generally will be not to fall into the traps laid by digital, where it’s increasingly easy to become sidetracked by metrics. We saw this when VOD was introduced, with agencies obsessing over click-through rates. We must keep in mind that brands are using TV for long-term brand building, emotional connection and consumer trust. We still need a trading model that reflects this rather than disappearing down a performance-led rabbit hole.
We can see the industry as a whole standing up for these values in Barb's rejection of YouTube’s request for accreditation on their terms. It makes sense to protect quality measurements that brands trust, as it gives TV the edge in the current media climate.
TV therefore can’t consider a wholesale shift to a digital model, but should welcome a hybrid model to tackle current challenges. One area where we could see programmatic shine is through the monetisation of zero rating or low rating spots. Lessons can be learnt from Sky AdSmart, which has done really well to broaden out their measurement metrics and target ads based on consumer data.
Sky currently have a huge advantage in the targeted TV field as they are the only broadcaster who has set-top box data available to them.
ITV and the other broadcasters need to find ways to realise the wider market benefits of working together to pool such data, something that will go against their natural instincts to protect their own interests, for the benefit of the long-term future of TV. By working with other broadcasters, they can assess who has the tech that can be used to everyone’s benefit in order to develop a new trading model for the TV industry.
One thing is for sure, with new trading models must come new regulations. When we revisit the CRR regulations put in place in 2003 to control how ITV sold advertising airtime, they seem obsolete in the midst of the proliferation of the market.
Regulation has always played a key role in ensuring the continued strength of the media and the trust of advertisers, and the industry as a whole could benefit from a full-scale review of how the TV market is traded, taking into account these new players.
If the likes of YouTube and Facebook want to compete for TV budgets alongside the traditional channels, they should be subject to the same brand safety and quality metrics.
Liz Duff is head of broadcast at Total Media