As the Titanic of Britain drifted inexorably closer to the iceberg of Brexit, hundreds of people gathered in London to discuss the future of TV advertising. The imminent self-inflicted national tragedy* loomed large over the conference. Many speakers decried the damage it is doing to their businesses, including Dame Carolyn McCall, the CEO of ITV who talked of the immense difficulties of operating in “the shadow of Brexit”.
Nevertheless, breaking through the gloom cast by the political context, three positive themes emerged: outcomes, context and collaboration.
The dominant theme of the conference was the abundance of evidence that TV advertising is highly effective at driving business outcomes. Independent analysis from Enders Analysis and Ebiquity aggregated actual media and sales data from hundreds of campaigns. Their conclusions were very similar: an over-emphasis on short-term, digitally driven media is highly detrimental to brands and the businesses that sustain them. Both presentations were clarion calls for a rebalancing of the media mix towards TV.
Case studies from brands emphasized the point further, with one renowned Britain icon (the AA) recounting how their short-term fixation led the company to being within a few years of closing down, and how rebalancing their media mix towards brand-building through TV led to a profit renaissance.
Many other companies demonstrated attribution tools and models that showed what TV campaigns achieved, including 605 Data and others. I was also fortunate enough to chair an international panel discussion on proving outcomes, which you can watch here.
At NLogic, we’ve long championed the importance of context when evaluating media. Two broadcasters (Channel 4 in the UK and NBC Universal in the US) talked of the work they’re doing to actively factor in context into their commercial offerings. Linda Yaccarino - Chairman, Advertising and Client Partnerships, NBC Universal - announced plans to launch a “contextual intelligence platform” that seeks to optimize the effectiveness of the ad by ‘programming’ the commercial break around the content of the programming. In her telling, in tests to date, they have been able to reduce ad clutter by 20% and commercial time by 10%. Considering the effort applied to programming the content, the concept of programming the ad breaks seems ripe with potential.
FutureTV London witnessed a significant symbol of collaboration when the CEOs of the UK’s three largest commercial broadcasters shared a stage for the first time ever. They all stressed the need for broadcasters to collaborate wherever possible, wherever (in the words of Channel 4’s CEO Alex Mahon) collaboration is “positive in the sum”. Stephen van Rooyen; CEO UK & Ireland, Sky went so far as to say that his definition of success for the next 5 years was how much he is able to help Channel 4 and ITV succeed.
Overall, there was a belief and a confidence in TV advertising in the UK that is striking. What we saw more than ever this year was hard data to ground that belief. It is becoming clearer with every conference that TV can prove that it is incredibly effective as a way of achieving both short and long-term business objectives. My hope for Canada is that brands, agencies and broadcasters continue to invest in the data, technology and smarts to prove that in our own industry.