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Being brought up on a performance based marketing diet I was, at first, sceptical about the impact of TV advertising, especially on delivering real user interaction and engagement. I mean, really, who would have their CV handy and upload it straight after viewing our ad? I had no problem imaging this impact on sexier consumer products like iphones, etc,… but jobs?

On the 6th of October 2008 our ad appeared for the first time on TV, during Coronation Street. Everybody from Jobsite met in a bar in Southsea to celebrate this occasion. The ad aired, everybody was delighted and… within in a minute the pagers of the database guys began beeping. The activity on our site was peaking and putting a strain on our servers. Luckily, we had taken the best case scenario and our IT people had built the infrastructure accordingly. I was absolutely delighted and at the same time was completely gobsmacked by this instant impact. And instantly questions about the quality of the CVs flooded my mind. To my relief, the next day showed an incredible increase in CVs and applications – across all sectors, all locations, and all salary levels. It was and still is amazing. Obviously, there are other dimensions that grow or change more slowly, but are even more important in the long term: reputation & revenues.

TV works – as part of a dynamic ecosystem

TV works; it signifies a change in strategy and needs to be run on a consistent basis. A TV campaign becomes amazing with outstanding and connected creative, a very detailed and targeted media plan and nimble media buying. An amazing TV campaign becomes powerful and truly impactful, only when all the marketing channels are aligned and are ultimately seen as one reality.

  • Website – the heart of it all: it needs to beat strongly and regularly and needs to encourage and ease the flow of user otherwise the impact of a TV campaign will be diminished.
  • SEM –a science in itself: halo effect, re-targeting, bidding and key words, you name it… the rule of thumb is: allocate as much to SEM as you have allocated to C4. Within Jobsite we have a formula of the ratio of SEM £ to TVR. YouTube deserves a special mention – it certainly has potential but might need a much more targeted and embedded approach. It certainly is a glimpse of the future of TV.
  • Display – in print & internet: Generally act to reinforce the campaign by increasing the frequency an individual sees the campaign. It anchors the brand in the mind of the consumer.
  • Radio – the weakling: It didn’t work for us and drives little interaction. It can be used to give a campaign a stronger regional flavour. For me, radio is too one dimensional, it’s more difficult to produce a really outstanding and quality creative. It got removed quite quickly from our media schedule.
  • Social Media – real time feedback: A TV campaign and social media, is like fuel and fire. A TV campaign (mostly the creative) drives conversation – both volume and intensity. It gives a brand the ability to participate in a conversation and at the same time assess the success of a creative and keep an eye on burn out of the creative execution. Additionally, social media shows how strongly your core messages are being repeated when dealing with your site and commenting on the perceived performance levels.
  • Mobile – the latest addition: We integrated mobile into our media plan and brand activity so successfully in January 2010 that we won the Mobile Merit Awards for Mobile Marketing.

TV works – but it’ll work completely differently in the future

Because of it’s impact, TV has weathered the digital changeover quite nicely but there are a couple of fascinating changes on the horizon, especially with the advent of IPTV in general, and Project Canvas here in the UK in particular.  That’s how it could all play out:

Peak time viewing

At the moment, this term is used to describe the time between 6pm and 11pm. With TV going increasingly mobile, I could imaging this change to the commuting hours in the morning and in the evenings. Similar to drive time on radio but much more impactful & more diverse.

Time fragmentation

Over the last years we all have discussed the impact of fragmentation on TV viewing, then it focussed mainly on the increasing number of channels that people can watch. Now one could argue that we’ll see an aggregation of channels, but fragmentation will still be front of mind: This time the fragmentation of time, especially viewing time. With video/TV on demand, the channel and the programming becomes less important as the viewer will decide when, where and on what device he/she’ll watch a programme. It’s certainly not dependent anymore on a specific day or time.

Event TV

World Cups, X Factor finals, etc will increase even further in importance to the advertiser as it’ll guarantee bigger reach and therefore more imminent impact on brand performance. Interestingly, as we have just seen with the final episode of Lost, due to increased global connectivity, more series will start and end at the same time and will be co-ordinated throughout time zones and countries, which will result in a further re-definition of peak time.

Connected devices

The convergence of carriers will speed up: One might start viewing a programme on TV, continue watching it on the mobile device on their way to work and watch the end on their PC at work – all devices are connected and interact with each other. The mobile acts as the facilitating device. Read the related blog post “The future is agnostic” for a more in-depth discussion on this development.


IPTV will offer the same targeting options as the internet as such, we’ll see behavioural targeting and geo-targeting in the ad breaks, and maybe even in the programming itself. The integration of data and the creation of the digital footprint will drive this change and will create unique experiences for every viewer. If we now imagine that most household will be equipped with Project Natal in the very near future, we have an even more dynamic profile:  As the control can identify everybody within the room, depending on whose coming or leaving, which other data the individual has chosen to share, programme and ads can be tailor made to the needs and desires of the individual.

Social TV

You all remember the so called “interactive TV” that the red button that was associated with it. Soon we’ll have true interactive TV in our living rooms. We’ll access our social media channels via the TV as well, which will lead to an even more integrated backchannel, maybe even integrated voting systems. It’ll certainly will change market research beyond recognition, will shorten feedback loops and might even open up a truly integrated, user defined and decided program, similar to social gaming – how about deciding on the fate or decisions of TV characters? And via micro payments one can buy special clothes or superpowers for our hero or heroine.

The changes mentioned above will force change in media planning & buying as well as the creative process:

Impact on creative

It’s all about extension – extension of formats, devices but most importantly interactivity and engagement.

From now on creative needs to work on all different devices and format, i.e., the common TV ad is 30 seconds long, the average pre-roll on VOD (both mobile & internet) is a maximum of 15 seconds. When shooting a new creative, keep in mind interactive web formats (similar to the Mini one) – so film the necessary sequences at the shoot. The content or the character of the ad obviously needs to create conversation in the social sphere but let’s go one further: As a minimum every character/content in an ad should be linked to a meaningful twitter handle as well as Facebook page.

As you will appreciate that approach requires clarity before the creative process starts, requires input from the media planner right at the beginning and requires a creative agency that can think channel neutral and develop impactful and rich executions for every single dimension. It’ll be challenging and exciting.

Impact on media planning and buying

Media planning will be all about convergence, channel neutrality and consistent delivery and it’ll start with the mobile as the facilitating device. The media planner and buyer will need to understand every single channel as well as the cross over and interactions within it. The increase of the social component will increase the dynamic and complexity – how are we going to deliver big brand impact? How & when are we reaching a time fragmented audience? How early do we need to book slots around TV events? Will this lead to smaller advertisers moving away from big ticket items into smaller, trickle campaigns?

One thing is quite certain: TV advertising, especially through geo and additionally behavioural targeting will become more attractive for smaller, local brands and companies. I know there are already companies offering self-service local media buying, but is it profitable?

Which leads me onto another point: Currently TV advertising is valued in TVRs, VOD in page impressions – at some stage TV will be valued in a consistent fashion across all different delivery mechanisms, most likely not TVRs as they are dependent on scarcity of slots. I wouldn’t be surprised to see it move – especially at local level – to a performance based system.

Media buying will be all about flexibility and nimbleness – money needs to be shifted on short notice in between channels and whilst permanent performance data is being fed back into the media buying loop. It will be a much shorter cycle, potentially servicing and adjusting campaigns around the clock.

TV is dead, long live TV

TV works now, but it’ll work much differently in the near future. I find this very exciting and it just shows that there is a lot of scope and potential in turning broadcasting silos into connected engagement campaigns.

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