It’s been three years since I last attended the annual TV
conference, so I was curious to see how the event and the debates had
developed over the past few years. Held in Lisbon within the grand
confines of The Ritz, I eagerly awaited speeches and podium arguments
which would shake the TV world.
I found that the days of heated debate over station average price are
over. TV inflation is still an issue, as John Hardie, the ITV Network’s
marketing director, found to his cost when he was ambushed by Procter &
Gamble and Mars during his closing speech at the conference.
He was told that it is all very well to argue ITV’s record in peaktime
viewing, but what was it doing about its poor daytime performance? The
resentment among FMCG advertisers is something that ITV will not be
allowed to ignore as it benefits from the abundant cashflows of dotcom
and telecoms advertisers.
But what struck me most about this conference was how people are
preoccupied about what the future will hold in terms of the number of
technological developments and their impact on the TV market. That
prevalent term ’fragmentation’ still made a regular appearance when
people discussed how the TV landscape will look, but the buzzword was
’convergence’. With the advent of wireless application protocol
technology, interactive TV services and the explosion of internet use,
media owners and shops are looking at how they can get the attention of
consumers who may be becoming too media savvy for comfort.
While we may struggle to find answers on how we should measure the
future audiences of so many different mediums, the answer to advertising
and media effectiveness which came across in a number of speeches was
stunningly simple - develop brilliant ideas which can carry a brand’s
message across any medium.
That hackneyed term ’content is king’ was much bandied around as
broadcasters and agencies argued that the key to developing meaningful
relationships with consumers was to tie them into compelling content
across the various TV platforms.
One thing that people grumbled about at the conference was the dwindling
presence of clients. I saw about 21 companies represented which, in the
scheme of things, was disappointing. Surely, when everyone is struggling
to address the future of TV, advertisers should be keen to become
involved in the debate.
There was one other thing which niggled me during the conference - the
lack of media agency chiefs. I could count on one hand how many there
were, and this stood in stark contrast to the old days of Monte
This, combined with the poor representation from the client fraternity,
is either a reflection of an industry which is becoming increasingly
time poor as it confronts the new-media age, or the simple fact that
such conferences are seen as pointless.