The Future of TV

A stellar cast of TV industry heavyweights took to OMD UK’s stage today to debate the future of the UK’s biggest medium. Host and Head of XMP, Vicky Fox, was joined by Jamie West from Sky, Jon Block from Videology, Jonathan Lewis from Channel 4, David Benson from YouTube and Lindsey Clay of Thinkbox.

Initial thoughts that linear TV would one day cease to exist entirely were soon dismissed, with content and context being the recurring themes over the hour. Sky’s policy around making content available to people where they want it on the most accessible screen to them at that point was widely accepted, and a new EPG and box is set to make it even easier for consumers to discover new content in the coming weeks. Platform context was another key thing for Jamie from Sky, making it clear that their content strategy on Snapchat was entirely different from TV or YouTube.

Jonathan from Channel 4 reminded us that the importance of word of mouth in viewing recommendations could not be overlooked and just because it is hard to effectively track and measure, does not mean we should neglect to focus on it. He also encouraged us to be brave and experiment with new platforms.

Jon from Videology pointed out that we should be considering the mindset of viewers in more detail when planning campaigns. The more active, ‘System 2’ mindset we are in when watching pre-roll ads on digital content is very different to the ‘System 1’ mindset half way through a programme when leaning back, and our receptiveness to advertising changes accordingly. He also mentioned the interesting ways advertising markets are evolving abroad, with broadcasters in the Netherlands and Spain selling much of their inventory via auction.

David from Google emphasised that we put too much of an emphasis on measuring the things that are easy to measure, like time spent viewing content and, in doing so, neglect what really matters: does the consumer enjoy watching it? They have found that there is no difference in enjoyment from users viewing user-generated content versus broadcast-quality content. Essentially people don’t care how it looks as long as it is entertaining them.

Lindsey from Thinkbox was keen to make sure we did not forget the importance of TV as a long-term advertising medium. She warned that we can all too easily be distracted with short-term, highly targeted, campaigns that don’t help to build brands across consumers lives. Pampers was presented as a real world example of a brand we are all aware of long before and after we enter their prospective parent target audience sweet spot.

There were some refreshing closing thoughts from Jamie who described how central effective advertising was to developing any new product at Sky, and that without successful ad campaigns there was no long-term future for TV advertising, a view that the rest of the panel agreed with.

Whilst the job of a planner can be overwhelming with so much data available at our fingertips and so many platforms across which we can reach consumers, the panel reminded us that it was a lot better to be confused by being overwhelmed than bored through a lack of options.


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