GroupM's Irwin Gotlieb urges broadcasters to act faster on addressable TV

30 Nov 2016  |  David Pidgeon 
GroupM's Irwin Gotlieb urges broadcasters to act faster on addressable TV

Videonet editor John Moulding, left, interviewing Irwin Gotlieb at the Future TV Advertising Forum

GroupM's global chairman, Irwin Gotlieb, has said television broadcasters - against a backdrop of "distrust" and "bickering" over the subject - must move quicker to adopt addressable TV.

Speaking to a global audience at the Future TV Advertising Forum on Wednesday, Gotlieb said "nobody's position is safe and anyone one could fall victim to future disruption.

"We're warning media owners they need to get on with addressability. They need to put the inter-ecosystem bickering to one side and deliver the goods."

Addressable TV enables advertisers to selectively segment audiences and serve different ads in commercial breaks. In the UK, where it is still relatively new, it is delivered via set-top boxes to individually selected households through satellite and cable providers, most notably via Sky AdSmart.

However, the industry has been accused of facing a lack of common technical standards across the globe. Media owners have each been creating their own, making it difficult for all the systems to communicate with one another. To progress, critics argue, both the adtech and broadcasting sectors need to define common ground.

"Television has been extremely effective at delivering broad awareness," Gotlieb said. "But granularity of data means that today television not only serves the top of the marketing funnel, but it serves every level of that funnel. We can identify stages in the transaction process, for instance, and we can activate against that."

For Gotlieb, this means TV can begin to match online advertising's targeting capabilities - and in the process help future-proof itself against the next wave of digital disruption.

However, despite the call to embrace addressable TV, Gotlieb - alongside major advertisers - reiterated that abandoning so-called 'advertising wastage' for a more targeted approach is not for every brand.

Unilever's European media & strategy director, Richard Brooke, told Wednesday's audience that he can see the value in addressable TV for certain types of brand and products - however: "The reality is, if you're going to build memory structures and brand equity, you're not just building for now - the person buying it now - you're also building for people who will want to buy it in future. So actually broadcast wastage doesn't exist."

Brooke cited the example of Unilever's Dove for Men launch. "Dove started as a female brand - and everybody knew what it stood for. Then we launched Dove for Men - and everyone knew what that stood for without having bought the brand because so many people had seen the Dove for Women ads on TV."

In the US market, where addressable TV is more advanced, AT&T's Mike Welch, VP, head of strategy, said being able to directly target households would make its business more competitive.

"We think addressable TV, at scale, makes us a viable competitor to Google and Facebook," he said. "It's efficient, effective and accountable...and we're being bullish about this: we've invested a lot and will continue to invest a lot more."

AT&T currently serves 50 million US homes with addressable tech, accounting for around 40% of its total household audience.

However, back in the UK, one senior - and seasoned - delegate told Newsline that the addressable TV debate was "starting to feel like Groundhog Day."

"It's been 'the future' of TV for about the last seven years. At the end of the day, it's only ever going to serve niche advertisers. Advertisers like John Lewis are never going to touch it."


Irwin Gotlieb was interviewed by Videonet editor-in-chief John Moulding at the Future TV Advertising Forum.

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