View the original post by Massimo de Magistris, SVP Sales EMEA, FreeWheel, here
May 9, 2018, Programmatic Italia
TV viewing has evolved — but not in the way you might think. In the digital age, the assumption is often that audiences have replaced living-room sets with connected devices; but the reality is more complex. Research shows content is actually viewed in both traditional and premium video formats across many screens; with mobile and desktop taking the daytime lead and big-screen options — such as linear, set-top-box video on-demand (STB VOD) and over-the-top (OTT) services — drawing audiences in the evening. In short, viewing has become borderless.
So, isn’t it time that TV and video advertising became more unified too?
After all, consumers now consider TV and video part of the same content experience no matter how they view them and expect all aspects of that experience — including ads — to be consistent and engaging. And if broadcasters want to meet this new standard, they must take a more holistic approach. Furthermore, forming alliances can also help maximise inventory and monetisation. Indeed, some leading names in the industry – both in Europe and further afield – are already reaping the benefits of collaboration; and there’s increasing scope for others to get in on the act.
Broadcasters join forces
Creating a secure advertising environment in this fast-changing viewing landscape is crucial to deliver the optimal user experience, and broadcaster unions are a simple yet effective way of achieving this. By working together, broadcasters will not only be able to communicate with engaged audiences efficiently at scale, but also offer greater transparency – a key concern for consumers and brands alike.
With so many advantages on offer, it’s not surprising that the number of broadcaster collaborations is on the rise. September 2017 saw Italian broadcaster Mediaset team up with other prominent European broadcasters – Mediaset España, TF1 Groupe (France) and The Prosiebensat.1 Group (Germany) – to form the European Broadcaster Exchange (EBX); a prospect so appealing that Channel 4 announced its exclusive UK partnership with EBX just two months later. It’s also worth noting that alliances such as these open up access to impressively large inventories: in the case of EBX, advertisers and operators working with these broadcasters can potentially reach 160 million viewers on VOD platforms across Europe.
Aligning with operators
While peer alliances are important, broadcasters should also be looking to partner with operators, especially those that deliver addressable TV and VOD advertising. In doing so, they can leverage the advantages of streamlined digital ad trading — such as data-driven programmatic technology — while making sure TV and premium video ads remain high quality, and fraud-free. Such collaborations will also help both parties quickly and effectively maximise ad revenue and inventory, and extend their reach to viewers.
Broadcasters in Europe are swiftly recognising the benefits that can result from unifying with operators. Indeed, the latest Q4 Video Monetisation Report from FreeWheel demonstrated that syndication — whereby broadcasters make content available to more than one channel or operator — is on the rise: in Europe, 17% of all ad views in 2017 were syndicated, an impressive increase of 74% year-on-year.
Successful broadcaster-operator alliances are growing at a fast pace, though it’s not all about speed; when they are closely affiliated, there is greater opportunity to implement strong controls that in turn create a more transparent, brand-safe environment and provide all parties with access to the essential measurement data needed for experience optimisation.
Converging linear and digital
Italian broadcasters were initially concerned about the fragmentation of TV content caused by the increasing popularity of digital platforms, particularly OTT services. But as TV has continued to entice viewers despite the range of other content now available — studies have found the average consumer now watches TV content using two devices — it has become clear that digital and TV can co-exist. In fact, when treated as part of a joined-up media spectrum, they can even be used as a means of amplifying each other’s reach, influence, and profitability.
For example, cross-platform viewing provides advertisers with the option to cherry-pick the avenues and platforms that best suit them, and affords the opportunity to create a transitional and emotional journey without leaving a safe, premium environment. Premium video ads also provide professionally produced, rights managed, and brand safe content, that engages the audience across these platforms.
This is likely the reason why both digital and TV advertising spend in the Italian region is already high, and set to get even higher: 2017 saw 24% of digital ad spend (€479 million) in Italy allocated to video, with a further 29% predicted rise this year. Meanwhile, it’s estimated 50% of all Italian ad spend will be focused on TV in 2018; compared to a global average of 35.5%.
Looking to the future
As the TV ecosystem evolves, there’s undeniably scope for adaptation and improvement amongst broadcasters. Digital shouldn’t be viewed as a threat, but as a format presenting a wealth of opportunities through which to enhance the user experience and create the most premium video advertising environment possible. The Italian TV advertising market is currently worth nearly €4 billion and growing year on year – so now is the time to maximise on this by forming alliances and driving the industry forward into a new collaborative era.