As facilitator of ISBA’s Digital Action Group I am very aware of digital advertising’s reputation as the Wild West. Some TV ad sales executives have basked in the digital ad industry’s problems. Up against a perceived lack of trust in digital advertising, still regarded as the new kid on the block, TV is seen as
Some TV ad sales executives have basked in the digital ad industry’s problems.
a trusted way of establishing, building and maintaining your brand. But I’m convinced that the future lies with the tactical use of digital and TV advertising working together.
The digital ad industry is trying to get its house in order
On a positive note, the digital ad industry is trying to get its house in order, with ISBA participating in, and often driving improvement. A UK Viewability standard was published last year and an Ad Fraud Working Group is being established. We’re calling for the digital ad industry to be honest about the issues it faces and realise that there are major challenges to overcome in order to preserve advertiser credibility and trust.
Whilst most advertisers traditionally complete their TV ad campaigns by Christmas Eve, the festivities nevertheless offer others the opportunity to reach massive audiences. Whilst the BBC has tended to invest in specials such as ‘Only Fools and Horses’ and more recently ‘Mrs Brown’s Boys’, Christmas isn’t crucial to commercial TV, which has relied on their tried and trusted soaps.
As TV viewing figures fall, advertisers and their media agencies will find it more difficult to meet their reach and frequency objectives. In a world of sensory overload, exceptional content is what attracts human eyeballs.
Festive TV viewing down 'sharply' on previous year
However, as in digital, the TV advertising landscape is changing dramatically. This Christmas and New Year overall figures for live TV viewing were sharply down on the previous year. See ‘Queen tops combined Christmas day viewing figures.’
Back on Christmas Day 1987 an average of 28.5 million viewers tuned in to Coronation Street. On Christmas Day 2010 it attracted nearly 10 million viewers, whilst on Christmas Day 2014 it was seen live by 6.41 million, according to BARB. How about catch up and play-back, I hear you cry. Good point, as back in 2013 more than 4.5 million people either recorded the Doctor Who special or downloaded it from the BBC's iPlayer, increasing its viewing figures. Then again, recording TV programmes allows viewers to fast forward through the ads, and there’s sometimes a significant time-shift too.
Exceptional content attracts eyeballs
TV certainly offers reach and frequency which other media find hard to match. Although, as TV viewing figures fall, advertisers and their media agencies will find it more difficult to meet their reach and frequency objectives. In a world of sensory overload, exceptional content is what attracts human eyeballs.
Times are changing dramatically and families are less inclined to sit around the TV on Christmas Day. Even if they do, there is increasing competition to terrestrial TV, provided by literally hundreds of satellite channels, social media, smart phones, laptops and iPads (see Apple dominates 2014 Christmas gift lists.)
Rather than casting aspersions on digital advertising, commercial TV execs need to concentrate on providing our members, the advertisers, with unique, valued content which continues to assure, providing the reach and frequency they require.
TV companies need to create 'water-cooler' moments
With the nation’s TV viewing habits changing rapidly, commercial TV companies need to continue to produce quality content in order to sustain ‘appointments to view’ and those ‘water-cooler moments’, not only retaining their existing audience, but also trying to attract those elusive 16 to 24 year olds.
Live sport can provide the answer. Last year’s Super Bowl was the most-watched television event in U.S. history, drawing over 111 million viewers. On a more modest scale, the UK can offer advertisers big audiences via the Champions and Europa League. ITV recently secured the 2015/16 TV rights to the highlights after losing the live rights to BT Sport.
In conclusion, I firmly believe that advertising on TV is here to stay and can complement other media, especially online. However, I feel that rather than casting aspersions on digital advertising, commercial TV execs need to concentrate on providing our members, the advertisers, with unique, valued content which continues to assure, providing the reach and frequency they require. That way they will help to secure the future of TV advertising for many years to come.