Kate Bulkley, Media Analyst.

Digital is advertising’s future

By Kate Bulkley

Broadcast News

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For Broadcast February 13, 2014

A smart approach to content and consumers is key, says Kate Bulkley

How much of the UK’s £3.5bn TV ad spend will shift to digital (and how fast) is one of those cat-amongthe- pigeons questions.

The shift is being driven by growth in the amount of data about what consumers are doing, and by companies determined to track behaviour more effectively, and in real-time. Diageo, the maker of Guinness, spends 20% of its $3bn (£1.8bn) marketing budget on digital. Its chief marketing officer’s mantra is: “all marketing is digital”.

Global media and content director Dominic Redfearn told an RTS Future of Advertising panel recently that he is a bit “obsessed” by search. “We know that integrated and multichannel works better,” Redfearn said. That means understanding the way in which the different parts – TV, digital, social – work together. “In our strategic media planning, we know that multichannel results in more sales, but we want to know how to get content to flow better across a search, when consumers are at the point of purchase,” he added.

Meanwhile, integrated campaigns now make up 40% of what Scripps Networks (which includes Food Network) delivers to its advertisers, according to vice president of digital Kate Bradshaw. These include original short-form video and curating hubs for recipes – like a six-part, ad-funded Sweet Bakes series featuring Food Network chef Andy Bates and Lyle’s Golden Syrup. The shorts doubled normal click-through rates to the Food Network website when they were featured on the channel’s digital newsletter last year.

The idea that data is the new oil has been around for some time, but how that oil is used is now making a difference, and Sky and C4 are becoming very adept.

Sky has been talking about smarter advertising since 2008, but its new AdSmart system, which uses data polled from some 500,000 Sky set-top boxes, is finally up and running. Online grocer Ocado is using it to target customers near to its distribution centres who have a certain income level. The new system is still in beta, but case studies will be available soon. Targets such as ‘yummie Brummie mummies’ are set to be a normal part of Sky Media’s sales lexicon.

Meanwhile, C4’s 4oD service has just registered its 10-millionth person and can now boast 50% of all the UK’s 16 to 24 year-olds. That’s a meaty number of registrations, in line with Sky’s total TV subscriber base.

Offering targeted advertising against its on-demand programming is a key sell, and given that C4’s key demo of younger viewers watch proportionately less linear TV, this is crucial to maintaining its advertising clout.

Sky and C4 plan to put ads into online content too, considered a key point as TV companies face up to digital competitors. Sky says it is eight to nine months away from serving ads directly online; C4 says it may get there in two to three.

With all that focus on delivery, it’s worth noting that ads themselves are changing too. Have you seen the recent Great Bacon Sarnie Battle that pits chef Jamie Oliver against EE mobile spokesman Kevin Bacon on Food Tube, Oliver’s online video channel? Is it an ad? A food video? It’s both. Imagine how powerful advertising could be if it combines genuine content innovation with targeted intelligence.

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