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Preparing for advanced TV’s 2021 take off

January 27, 2021 | By Virginie Dremeaux, Vice President, Marketing and Communications, International – FreeWheel @virginiedremeau

The new year brings new cheer to the advanced TV advertising sector, with an exceptional outlook for 2021. Following months of accelerated change in 2020, a remarkable 84% of marketers across five European markets expect to increase their investment in advanced TV during the next 12 months. This positivity signals a recognition of the channel’s potential to reach highly engaged audiences in premium video environments that are on-demand, connected, and addressable.     

Media owners – whether programmers or distributors – have a golden opportunity to tap into this wave of optimism for a channel that includes multiple interconnected solutions and platforms. This includes video-on-demand (VOD), connected TV (CTV) and over-the-top (OTT), to audience-based linear, programmatic, and addressable. Here are just a few of the trends media owners should be aware of as they prepare for advanced TV’s take off in 2021.    

Unification of linear and digital

Linear TV and digital video have been on a convergent path for some years. However, in 2020 it became perfectly clear that viewers see no difference between the two. People switch effortlessly between channels, platforms, and screens to satisfy their appetite for video content everywhere, any time. Advertisers are adapting to this evolution. They want to deliver seamless experiences across all premium video environments, regardless of whether they are linear or digital.

In 2021, the ability to sell and deliver inventory across all devices and platforms in a unified way will be a top priority for media owners, enabling them to meet advertiser demand. Significant steps are already being taken towards achieving this goal, including the advance of linear schedule optimisation through digital ad decisioning tools. However, more still needs to be done to achieve greater unification over the coming months so media owners can make a greater portion of inventory available for advertisers to buy simply and holistically.

Availability of addressable inventory

Marketers are increasingly keen to target TV advertising at household level through the use of high-quality data insights. Traditional TV advertising is still the most effective option for achieving scale. However, marketers can supplement it with addressable advertising to access niche audiences and achieve incremental reach.

Across Europe, over three-quarters of marketers expect to increase investment in addressable advertising next year, with a 9% growth predicted overall. This does vary however, according to the maturity of individual markets, the technology capabilities and the availability of addressable inventory. Spain has the most optimistic outlook, forecasting a 13% increase in addressable advertising, while France is the most cautious at just 4% growth.

To take advantage of increased investment in addressable advertising, media owners should focus on making more of their inventory addressable. This will mean breaking down silos between TV and digital teams. It also requires exploring how they can effectively use first-party and second-party data – while complying with data privacy regulations – to enable richer targeting.

Preparing for addressable advertising will require a degree of collaboration and European media companies can take inspiration from the U.S. Across the Atlantic, industry initiatives such as On Addressability are driving progress towards simple, scalable addressable capabilities across TV formats. And project OAR (Open Addressable Ready) is establishing a common technology for dynamic, addressable advertising management.

Collaboration with competitors

The trend for cross-industry collaboration doesn’t just apply to addressable advertising, but to advanced TV as a whole. Advertisers demand more streamlined solutions that allow them to buy across channels, platforms, and devices. So, media owners will need to put aside traditional rivalries and take a collaborative approach. In this case, working with competitors well help them gain mutual advantage.

There are already examples of successful collaborations around addressable TV within European markets, including partnerships between FranceTV and both Bouygues Telecom and Orange, as well as the LOVEStv platform in Spain. In the U.K., Sky, Virgin Media and Channel 4 are all partnering on AdSmart. ITV has extended an open invitation to broadcasters to join its Planet V platform. More established cross-market collaborations are also in place, such as the European Broadcaster Exchange, which was established in 2017 between Mediaset, ProSiebensat.1, TF1 and Channel 4 to enable programmatic video advertising across multiple countries.    

Over the coming year, more media companies will form partnerships or join existing collaborations. This will allow them strengthen inventory offerings to allow advertisers to access premium, brand-safe advanced TV environments at scale.

After a turbulent year all round, the next 12 months look extremely promising for the TV and video ecosystem. Media executives will be poised to maximize the opportunity by embracing the unification of linear and digital and making more of their inventory addressable. If they also find ways to collaborate with partners and competitors across the industry, media companies can put themselves in the best position to make the most of advanced TV’s 2021 take off. 

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