Campaign’s 2021’s TV advertising summit, “Reimagining TV for a connected future” brought together speakers from all disciplines of the TV landscape; from broadcasters to advertisers and platforms, agencies, tech and production.
Each speaker discussed experiences of the evolving TV landscape during lockdown and projected what lays ahead for 2021.
There’s clearly no doubt that the COVID-19 pandemic and associated series of lockdowns has had a seismic impact on the TV industry; falling ad spend, viewing habit changes, new entrants to TV advertising, emerging content distribution channels, campaign cancellations across ad-categories and accelerated production times.
The conference demonstrated, time after time, that broad statements about the state of TV are difficult to make. “TV” must be viewed beyond the confines of traditional broadcasting to incorporate alternative ways of viewing and video distribution channels. Trends differ significantly, across audiences, in terms of how, when and where TV /video content is viewed. However, TV continues to play an important role in our lives and the pandemic has served to amplify this role, reflected in increased screen time, TV as a key topic of conversation and direction, TV as a trusted source of information and shared and individual viewing experiences.
10 key take-outs for the TV summit:
1 – Covid-19 has accelerated trends rather than created new ones
The share of linear TV grew in 2020 for the first time in 10 years but generally audiences are finding new ways to view TV, be that devices or platforms, and TV beyond traditional broadcasting is rapidly being accepted as a norm.
2 – The requirement for a more holistic view of TV has never been greater
TV exists and thrives outside of broadcast. Seeing TV as an evolving media channel with a myriad of opportunities to reach and measure audiences, in different ways, is key.
3 – Covid has led to increased flexibility with the TV ecosystem
Shorter AB deadlines, softening of cancellation clauses, accelerated production timing and newly-launched opportunities to reach audiences. TV advertising can be turned around a lot more quickly and cheaply now than ever before and this is opening TV to new advertisers. Many are ecommerce-centric advertisers with different measurement needs and this will help drive momentum for the wider industry to look at news ways of demonstrating TV’s effectiveness.
4 – TV remains a powerful and effective media channel across its various forms
For legacy TV advertisers and new to market entrants. Innovation was cited as being more of a focus in 2020; straight to box setting for linear programming, extensions to live viewing content within owned channels, copy optimisation directly linked to performance (addressable TV alongside shorter production and lead times) or using broadcaster talent to help TV advertising content resonate.
5 – Lockdown has generated greater collaboration within the ecosystem
Speakers talked about how advertisers, agencies and broadcasters worked most effectively together and new-to-TV advertisers emphasized the importance of accessing TV expertise. Broadcasters were celebrated for broadening dialogue beyond the traditional sales teams, with advertisers also accessing broadcaster talent, tech, data and creative resources.
6 – We need to accept that TV works in different ways for different audiences
This means reassessing legacy views and being open to new definitions of “TV”. The idea that linear TV could be used to provide incremental reach for other forms of Video, especially for younger audiences or that shared YouTube viewing on the TV set is will become normalised, are ideas we need to be open to. However, there was a clear consensus that multi-channel execution amplifies the strengths of AV, and a mix of video channels should be explored to retain TV’s effectiveness and reach. Understanding the specific role of each channel and how they work most effectively together, rather than in competition, is critical to future advertising success.
7 – The TV set is increasingly being used to access TV content beyond live viewing
TV sets still account for 76% of viewing across all individuals and 53% of 16-34s. Although consumption differs across demos, TV sets continue to be the key device for shared viewing occasions, with overall shared viewing up 7% in 2020. 2020 has demonstrated TV’s unique ability to deliver a collective viewing experience and a feeling of togetherness for many.
8 – Cross-channel and agile measurement was cited as a key priority across the event’s speakers
It remains the elephant in the room despite increased collaboration across TV’s players. It is crucial that any future solution is focused on measuring the right thing and benefits from the functionality that different forms of audience data represent. The proliferation of new channels, each with specific benefits and strengths, will require an evolution in measurement approaches, rather than trying to replicate what has been successful for broadcast TV. The opportunity that registered BVOD user data represents, extending TV targeting potential, alongside broader reach metrics is exciting.
Also, as TV planning and buying practices adapt to become more performance-based and outcome-focussed, so must the measurement process. The challenges of a more fragmented media/TV ecosystem still need to maximise addressability and provide more relevance, value, and insight for advertisers.
9 – Subscription TV (STV) share of viewing is up across audiences
Particularly so amongst younger demographics (19% of 16-34 viewing in 2020). For many consumers, STV stacking has been easier to justify during lockdown where disposable income has been higher for many. However, there is likely to be an inflection point, where costs cannot be justified and the proliferation of choice is consolidated, or alternative revenue models are opened to drive take up. As expected, a high % of consumers are open to ad-funded models, if it means more choice, for free.
10 – There are clear lessons to be learned from lockdown
The summit ended with a panel discussing what would happen as the UK returns to some semblance of normality. It was accepted that there could be a drop off in viewing and changes to how TV is viewed, but there was a collective view that lock-down has helped to demonstrate a need to explore the opportunities that exist across TV’s various channels.
Advertisers would like to retain some of the changes that lockdown has brought (flexibility/collaboration/short-term activation) but look forward to balancing these with greater certainty and the ability to plan longer-term.
If you are looking for help navigating the TV challenges of 2021, do get in touch.