Today, Disney finally becomes the latest entertainment giant to offer a subscription video on-demand streaming service here in the UK. But now with such a huge selection of platforms on offer for consumers, what’s next for traditional television advertising?
With a career built on working for several independent television companies and producing content for broadcasters such as Made Television, CBS and the BBC – as well as a genuine passion for the industry, then who better than our Senior Account Executive, Tom Selway, to explore…
Just over 80 years ago, US network NBC aired the first legal television commercial. It was an advert for Bulova watches and featured the voice of Ray Forrest, long time NBC staff radio announcer declaring “America runs on Bulova time” as the company’s logo was depicted over a black and grey map of the U.S.
Here in the UK, 2020 heralds 65 years since commercial television began with the launch of ITV in London. Over that time, the company has seen significant changes – not limited to – the move from black and white to colour, the merging of regional licenses, the addition (and termination) of several channels, competition from satellite & cable broadcasting, the birth of the internet, the creation of video on demand, the switch to digital – and more recently, the success of streaming services such as Netflix and Amazon Prime.
Is There Anybody Out There?
Whilst the general public perception is linear television viewing figures are down, the reality is content consumers now have an excessive choice of providers. The viewers are still out there, but they’ve dispersed.
According to an Ofcom report, the average UK home still consumes far more content through traditional broadcasting than through online streaming services. So, TV advertising continues to be a big player in the game. Only last year, O2 broadcast the world’s first ever live television commercial to herald the launch of its 5G mobile internet service, shot on mobile phones at a Rugby World Cup match between England and Argentina.
Arguably, throughout the 2010s, addressable advertising – the ability to show different adverts to different households while they are watching the same programme – became one of the most important developments for brands and marketing teams. For us in the advertising industry, services like Sky Adsmart allow for the opportunity to ensure our clients’ ads are only seen in households with occupants who would likely have an interest in their specific product or service.
Rather than use Sky’s platform – as Channel 5 does – ITV is keen to get a slice of the pie and has just launched its own, called Planet V, to provide addressable advertising for the ITV hub. Using independent platform ‘Amobee’, it will have the capability to deliver end-to-end campaign and portfolio management.
But, the difficulty for us in ad agencies is the measurements – for TV and VOD, for example – are generally broken down into platforms, rather than as a consolidated figure. NBCUniversal aim to tackle this with what they describe as “unified measurement” technology. ‘CFlight’ claims to be the first cross-platform advertising metric and Sky Media will be adopting it across its European territories this year.
Even still, another challenge for broadcasters and content providers is offering innovative ways for brands to engage with the audience outside of the standard commercial or product placement during programming. John Lewis’s last Christmas campaign went further than its traditional offering, with loveable leading character Edgar also appearing in the credits of several ITV programmes. Meanwhile, in what’s claimed to be the first-ever brand partnership, Tesco’s Christmas campaigns saw its lead character – a time-travelling home delivery driver – turn up on the sets of various TV programmes from ITV, Channel 4 and Sky.
A Saturated Market
In 2020 we’ll have access to more streaming services than ever before, and industry experts have long predicted providers will eventually have to embrace advertising in one form or another. On the back of the launch of Disney+ in the UK, over the next few months we’ll also see both HBO Max (Warner Bros) and Peacock (NBC) start steaming in the US – each offering a host of legacy content and new original programming for a monthly subscription.
It’s becoming increasingly clear that with so many providers on offer, the average consumer won’t be able to pay for every service, so much so that NBCUniversal has recently revealed a two-tier subscription model for its Peacock service; one with ads and a more expensive option without. Another US provider, Hulu, has long provided the option of a paid subscription or an ad-based account – and even running adverts when users hit pause on the content. I think there’s every chance this could be introduced to set top boxes for linear broadcasting.
It seems the declared death of linear TV was premature and, in some ways irrelevant, as we are beginning to see new opportunities for advertising through streaming services and technological developments across the board.
The real battle in 2020 is which services will introduce those opportunities, and which will crash and burn in a crowded market. The golden age of cinema quality television content continues to reign and with consumers spoilt for choice, there is so much potential for brands and agencies to create engaging content for products and services.
Curious to find out more about how Tom’s expertise in television advertising could take your campaign to the next level? Get in touch with him – firstname.lastname@example.org