Kate Bulkley, Media Analyst.

Online v TV: the ad battle rages

By Kate Bulkley

Broadcast News

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For Broadcast April 28, 2016

Broadcasters can have the best of both worlds, says Kate Bulkley

There was a real frisson in London’s Picturehouse Central last week as Google took to the stage to tell Ad Week Europe delegates that YouTube is a better place to put their advertising money than TV.

As that bomb was dropped, ITV commercial director Simon Daglish was being mic’d up for another session. His opening remark: “It’s ludicrous for Google to say these things. TV is fucking digital, and to say that TV does not exist except on YouTube is ludicrous.”

Talk about lines in the sand. TV is still very big indeed; most viewing is live and linear, AKA ‘television’.

That said, even ITV is starting to embrace advertising in a different way on its online VoD service. Over the next few weeks, it will start working with video advertising platform SpotX to deliver programmatic advertising to the 13.5 million registered users of its online platform ITV Hub.

Like Channel 4 (which already delivers programmatic adverts), ITV will operate a ‘private marketplace’ for these ads, to control which are being served.

Using data to create more sophisticated ad targeting – both online and, increasingly, on TV – is here to stay.

“A broadcaster without a data strategy is like a submarine without sonar,” C4 chief executive David Abraham told last month’s Enders Analysis MediaTel conference.

C4’s digital ad revenues are much smaller than its linear TV ones, but its share of overall online advertising revenues is already “far higher” than its linear share, he said.

Sky has been in the targeted-ad game the longest, using its own set-top box subscriber data matched with third-party data to target ads to customers, both on TV and online. Ironically, Sky is the third biggest advertiser in the UK after P&G and Unilever, and a significant proportion of its ad spend is now digital. One of the biggest beneficiaries is Facebook – which announced last week a big push into live streaming video on its site.

Talk about frenemies. Facebook supremo Mark Zuckerberg said live video will be core because people watch “10 times as much” live video as recorded.

Earlier this month, Sky digital director Lucien Bowater said he plans to put “a great deal” of content from Sky News and Sky Sports on Facebook Live.

In January, Sky News (pictured) was one of the most-watched FB video publishers globally and Bowater believes that FB Live will open a “whole new audience” for Sky programming.

With Twitter agreeing a deal to stream a number of live NFL games from next year too, it’s interesting that digital players are keen to add what is essentially telly to their businesses.

In its controversial ad effectiveness study, Google noted that online video provides a 50% higher ROI than TV advertising. TV industry group Thinkbox hit back hard, saying that TV builds brands better and “creates the most profit” for advertisers.

Who’s right? A bit of both, I imagine. Clearly the appetite for online video is growing, as is the demand from brands and advertisers for better ad targeting.

Clever broadcasters will find ways to take the best of both worlds.

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