We need to talk about TV: Integrate screens or watch results disintegrate
The battle between streaming services and mainstream TV has become a hot topic amongst the media, marketing, and advertising industry – and rightly so.
With subscription services on the rise and more brands looking at a mixture of platforms to invest in, the future of what we traditionally know as ‘TV’ is at risk. But does skippable, scrollable, UGC video replace TV, or does TV simply need a makeover?
- The media industry has fallen behind the changes in consumption and marketers are struggling to keep pace with the consumer of tomorrow.
- Consumers today describe ‘TV’ as something much simpler and broader than what the advertising industry does
- Media agencies are best placed to disrupt and lead change, but behaviour needs to be overhauled
- VoZ is a very important step forward, but it is not the silver bullet we’ve all been hoping for
We need to talk about TV - in all its forms and how we buy and measure it. Or we are going to fall further behind audiences.
Over the last few weeks, we’ve seen more articles hitting the news about what’s happening in the TV industry, from Telstra TV going into a partnership with Vevo, to Stan massively increasing its original productions.
As the AFR has reported, consumers aren’t picking winners and losers and are apparently happy to pay for multiple streaming services – after all, what does an extra $10 a month really mean, particularly when you’re in semi or full lockdown.
For the ad industry though, this is forcing us to shift gears and fast forward. To remain relevant and keep pace with the rate of change, we need to fundamentally change the way we think about TV – from a planning, trading, measurement, and content perspective.
It’s time to disrupt ourselves
The consumer landscape continues to rapidly evolve and CMOs are constantly challenged with how they keep pace with the consumer of tomorrow. As agency partners, we play a critical role in helping our clients understand the changing environment and provide them with sound investment advice that will lead to tangible business growth.
TV today looks almost unrecognisable from 20 years ago yet, for the most part, the industry itself is still hovering around where we were in the early naughties. Many agencies continue to take a ‘TV first’ approach, using linear TV as the foundational building block to build reach, and then layering in other methods to (i.e. on demand broadcast) to build incremental reach.
While this approach may still deliver campaign goals and appear to be cost effective, it’s missing one massive piece of the puzzle… this is not how consumers behave.
To respond to changing consumer behaviour, it’s time for the ad industry to disrupt itself. This might sound like doom and gloom, but it’s far from it.
Let’s start with thinking about what TV actually is in its purest sense, and from a consumer lens.
Aussies really don’t care about linear, FTA, BVOD, SVOD, catch-up, advanced TV – they see all of this purely as ‘TV’. Us industry folk may scoff at this but ask yourself… do you only watch free to air, then occasionally visit an on-demand service and in that order? If you do, you are an anomaly.
The chances are you follow the content you love, and then adapt your platform or device by what’s right for you in the moment. Some shows you proudly watch on the big screen with your family and others are a secret obsession you binge on your tablet.
70 per cent of respondents in the ‘Think with Google’ study said that their mood dictates their content choices, however as Deloitte’s 2019 Annual Consumer Survey highlighted, Australians want ‘content simplicity’. Planning around this behaviour and understanding this emotional context will only increase the relevance and impact of your ad.
By having all of these different terms for TV, we’re only adding more complexity to the planning, buying and measurement processes – it’s no wonder marketers are confused and spend is shifting to other digital platforms.
At Dentsu we have evolved our thinking and the way we work with our broadcast partners to now describe TV as long form, broadcast quality content on any device. We don’t discriminate based on the method of delivery or device. It’s all just TV! This has meant overhauling supporting processes, team structures, ways of working, and evolving trading frameworks to support investment moving fluidly across TV on any device.
Stripping back measurement
With more CMOs now looking beyond the bottom line and focussing on ROI, we can anticipate more in-depth questions to be asked on performance and effectiveness.
If you asked them, consumers would tell you the experience binge watching Masterchef via free-to-air on a big screen TV at home is very different to watching a short clip on Youtube. Both are important parts of the media mix but very different. Yet why do we often treat these the same when planning and measuring campaigns?
While the absence of a single currency for trading and unified metrics across linear and digital TV poses some challenges for effectively measuring success, by keeping them segregated and in silos we’ve also made reporting and measurement more complex than it need be.
VoZ is an important step forwards, but it won’t be the silver bullet that solves our woes. It should form part of our solution, but not be looked at as the holy grail itself.
In a recent Mi3 article, the question was posed ‘will linear bend to digital, or digital to linear TV?’ Perhaps it’s neither. Innovation and evolution won’t be consistent and standardised so let’s not try to fit a round peg in a square hole. Let’s get ahead and build a square peg – one that blends fundamental principles of measuring ROI against real business outcomes, along with common sense and logic.
Our proprietary tool has been built to blend data and technology to help clients make better decisions across a converged view of TV. While better planning and reporting are important, inflight optimisation is the ultimate goal as we see the best results delivered when investment moves fluidly across screens throughout the lifecycle of a campaign
Key takeouts for advertisers
One thing that Covid-19 has shown us is that TV has never been more popular and an important channel for brand building, but it’s also being used incorrectly. For agencies and advertisers, consider taking these steps:
- Simplify how you define TV and seek out partners that can remove the complexity to future-proof your investment.
- Create integrated teams with all your partners and ensure they have shared goals.
- Go back to the basics and measure efficacy against real business outcomes.
- Other digital video platforms are important in your media mix but caution them replacing TV.