Review: Future TV Advertising Forum Sydney
Videonet editor-in-chief, John Moulding, files his opening report from Mediatel Events' TV trip down-under
Future TV Advertising Forum Sydney was a great success - and just what Australia needed at this time: a deep-dive on why the country over-indexes on digital spend compared to other markets, whether a shift in sentiment and budget towards digital (and out of TV) is justified (or a mistake by marketers), and how the TV market should respond.
The MCA venue was packed, the audience engaged and there was a near-consensus that the TV market needs to act fast on a number of fronts including increased collaboration (like around use of data), making it easier to buy and schedule TV advertising (with a focus on automation), and introducing more targeting online and on broadcast infrastructure (household-level addressable TV advertising is coming - probably by 2019).
One of the biggest priorities is to ensure TV gets credit for the work it already does. That puts an emphasis on total TV measurement (recording online/multiscreen viewing as well as linear TV), something that OzTAM (Australia’s official TV audience measurement company) is working towards with its VPM (Video Player Measurement) analysis and the creation of a cross-platform panel.
It is widely understood in Australia that while some linear ratings losses are due to audiences watching more SVOD, a good chunk of the losses are explained by viewers moving from reported TV viewing (on television) to non-reported TV viewing (on broadcaster streaming services).
The broadcasters are confident that when total TV measurement arrives, it will prove that the TV industry is in much better shape than the linear ratings might suggest. Sentiment matters in this market. Some buyers have become very pro-digital at the expense of TV. The ANZ (Australia and New Zealand) TV industry used FTVA Sydney as an opportunity to show that TV is still the most effective advertising medium available and that it has a bright future.
Across the day, senior executives at brands and agencies gave their views on what they need from TV providers in Australia and New Zealand. Irwin Gotlieb, Global Chairman at GroupM, prioritised addressable advertising on broadcast infrastructure, predicting that new money would flow to television once it enabled ‘lower-funnel’ marketing activities. He promised that the world’s largest media buyer would invest early in addressable advertising in the ANZ region. Some other senior buyers seemed less impressed with what addressable TV advertising could give them, however.
There were even counter-views about whether marketers should be targeting consumers at all, with Rick Mandler, the former VP Strategy & Digital Media Advertising at ABC Television Network, making the case for the Byron Sharp school of thinking: that you need to make your brand mentally available to everyone, all the time, in order to grow your market.
Mandler is passionate that you need to chase light and infrequent buyers and not just your regular or likely users. And he also made a compelling argument that brand values are only worth something if non-customers know what those values are. Thus, if drinking a particular beer says something about you, the thing it says about you needs to be understood by the non-users and not only the drinkers.
This event demonstrated that the ANZ region faces the same challenges as other markets in North America and Europe, but the threat from digital is more focused. Rhys McLachlan, SVP, Global Head of TV Strategy at Videology (the company that enables smarter data-driven ad decisioning) had some words of comfort, followed by a warning.
First, we have reached peak disruption, in the sense that all the threats to the future of ad-supported TV are now visible and known to us. But he warned that the danger at events like this, which rally the industry to focus on their future strategy, is that everyone goes home and does nothing to implement the industry-wide changes that are needed. He urged Australia to act, not just talk.
We will be reporting on the big stories from Future TV Advertising Forum Sydney over the next few weeks across Mediatel and Videonet.