Golden Age of TV or Imminent Demise?

I recently had the pleasure of attending the Festival of Media Conference in Rome.  It was a brilliant conference, and not just because we came home with an amazing haul of gold awards!

TV as a medium was much discussed, but generally from two completely opposing points of view.  Either a transforming medium in a great health – in fact 2015 was referred to by one speaker as the Golden Age of TV – or one which is increasingly redundant in today’s complex landscape.  From the speakers on the stage, there was seemingly no middle ground.

For a medium that was once the golden goose of advertising, it certainly seems the shine has come off this multi-billion dollar medium.  TV ad revenues in Australia are flat at best & share prices have slumped.  7 & 10 boasted share prices of $7 & $1.50 in 2010 – today they are around $1 & 22cents.  For advertisers CPMs are increasing and audience delivery for the most part underwhelms.  Planners and clients engage in a regular dialogue about the merits of linear broadcast FTA TV and what the right level of investment into the medium should be given significantly changed viewing behaviours and migration to VOD; 14-24’s now spend more than twice as long online than on TV.

The start of 2015 has delivered disappointing audience numbers across a broad range of demos; even for shows with a proven track record & demos with a proven resilience.  Even the more traditional TV audience of GB’s with Kids is back 18% this year.  There are a few shining stars with Masterchef 2015 being one success story, but what success looks like in 2015 is a huge recalibration on what success looked like 5 years ago and 5 years before that……2m to 1.5m to 1m today….

It’s clear, from where we sit as planners, that TV as a singular solution for an advertiser is long long gone.  But here are 5 reasons why TV (both linear broadcast & catch up) should remain an important part of the comms mix for clients for at least a few more years:

  1. It Works:

Thinkbox, the marketing body for commercial TV in the UK, has a breadth of studies outlining the efficacy of the TV medium in driving client outcomes; PwC, Ebiquity, and the IPA all contributing.  The studies cover a number of different pillars such as TV driving profit, driving search & boosting the effectiveness of other media.  Equally, Free TV, the equivalent Australian marketing body has a strong range of case studies.

Within m2m we have clients that use sophisticated econometric modelling techniques to both substantiate as well as define the right level of TV investment.  We have direct response clients that identify the exact cost per acquisition / cost per download that TV is driving, and we manipulate TV schedules to optimise day of week, time of day, channel and programming mix.  For these clients TV is unquestionably delivering results.

  1. Data:

Sky Media Group’s Deputy MD, Jamie West, another speaker at the FoM, oversees the largest broadcast sales house globally and describes the state of the TV medium as being in ‘rude health’.   He talked to the myriad of multi device initiatives that are enhancing the customer viewing experience – but it is the data piece which he believes is unlocking the value to advertisers.

MCN like Sky are using subscriber and client data to generate customer segments that are driving more efficient outcomes for clients and more relevant and meaningful commercial messages to viewers.

Sky’s AdSmart allows different ads to be shown to different households watching the same programme.   Brands and businesses can now advertise on national channels, but to more relevant audiences.  In the UK, 78% of clients using the Adsmart technology are new to TV or new to sky advertisers!  MCN’s is on the way to emulating AdSmart, where FOXTEL’s new IQ3 box will be the game changer.  This will be MCN’s first opportunity to launch a series of addressable advertising models in Australia.

  1. Love and emotion:

TV audiences are primed to be emotionally moved; from drama to sport and a host of genres in between.  An emotionally engaged audience is far more likely to be moved by (and to recall) advertising content whether it be in the traditional ad break or a pre-roll environment.

If the programming is emotive, this can be further capitalised on through emotive ads.  The IPA’s ‘Long and Short of It’ study found that emotional ads are almost twice as effective at generating profit as rational or informative ads.

  1. The new water cooler moment:

‘People love TV but they love it more with Twitter’ according to Daina Middleton, Head of Global Business Marketing at Twitter.   Twitter users tend to watch more live TV, which is a massively important proposition for networks and advertisers alike.  Reasons which encourage viewers to watch live TV and to engage in the multi-screen conversation seem to be few and far between.  So that fact that people like to watch TV when other people are watching the same thing is without question good news.

  1. The hero is of course the content:

Great shows are still what consumers flock to & great content will always be sought out by consumers; FTA & streaming services alike are all use hero content as bait to draw audiences to their platforms.  With consumers the curators of their content- and not the TV networks – what does this mean for investment into TV shows?  Well, it is continuing at pace and scale.  Hollywood celebrities are actively migrating to the small screens (True Detective and House of Cards are just two examples).  Fox international made 136 scripted shows in 2000 and they will make 350 scripted TV shows in 2015.  And production costs per series are significantly higher today!  Made for small screen drama is definitely not a genre in decline.

TV is without doubt facing challenging times but a Golden Age?  No.  But we are not facing the imminent demise of TV either.  Frankly, the truth falls somewhere in the middle.


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