Login is restricted to DCN Publisher Members. If you are a DCN Member and don't have an account, register here.

Digital Content Next


InContext / An inside look at the business of digital content

Maximizing audiences’ unique relationship with TV

March 8, 2023 | By Stefanie Briec, Director, Head of Demand Sales UK & International AudienceXpress – FreeWheel @FreeWheel

Consumers appear to be more engaged with media than ever before. Social platforms, podcasts, and games have found their way into consumers’ daily lives. However, TV’s place at the heart of the household lives on, appealing to the masses and capturing audience attention for almost 3.5 hours a day.

That said, TV no longer just occupies one screen. Advanced TV channels such as video-on-demand (VOD), and free ad-supported streaming services (FASTs) are accessible on many devices. While this proliferation of distribution channels has changed how brands connect with audiences, viewers’ relationship with TV and Advanced TV is unique. Here’s why.

1. It’s grounded in high quality content

The period since the turn of the millennium has been dubbed the “Golden Age” of TV, which is characterised by the growing choice over not only what viewers watch but where, when, and how they engage with TV. Advanced TV (comprised of VOD, CTV, OTT, and addressable linear TV) is home to premium, long-form video content that — due to its strong entertainment value — will always attract highly engaged audiences.

It is, in fact, viewer demand for premium content that is the driver of the diversification of the TV landscape, as new platforms and services are launched to capture eyeballs. Although Ofcom’s Media Nations (2022) report found that UK viewing habits have been readjusting after their peak during the pandemic, it highlights that broadcaster video-on-demand (BVOD) services are bucking the overall trend and the time audiences spend with them per day is rising. So, how do consumers feel about maturing Advanced TV channels?

2. Linear TV’s reputation is preserved by Advanced TV

According to 36% of CTV viewers who participated in FreeWheel’s 2022 Connected Viewers: All Eyes on Streaming study – which surveyed consumers in the UK, Italy, France, Germany, Spain and the Netherlands (EU6) – ad-supported Advanced TV services give them access to an appealing mix of quality video content. To reach these audiences, who are increasingly adopting VOD and FAST services, industry players are implementing ad-funded models, but viewers’ expectations for quality extend beyond the content and apply to advertising as well.

That’s because linear TV, alongside setting the standard for premium content, has also established advertising as an expected part of the viewing experience. Research indicates that TV advertising creates memories among audiences due to its long-form video formats, giving brands strong storytelling opportunities and the chance to boost ad recall. In line with this, two-thirds of respondents to Freewheel’s study who watch CTV find its TV-like ad experience to be the most attention-grabbing.

Furthermore, audiences are not the only ones with high expectations for Advanced TV. Ad buyers have become familiar with TV’s standards for high impact creative and competitive separation. The benefits of TV advertising go further than delivering impressions, and this is underscored by the latest iteration of measurement tools that enable marketers to gain insight into how TV affects audiences in the mid- and lower-funnel. TV advertising can encourage consideration and drive traffic to websites and apps, increasing sales opportunities.

3. Audiences trust broadcasters and media owners

Since viewers generally consider broadcasters and media owners to be the source of quality video content, they tend to have a close connection with providers in the TV landscape — one grounded in trust. On the basis of these relationships, broadcasters and media owners have access to valuable first-party data, which lays the groundwork for informed and highly effective audience-based targeting.

Advertisers and agencies depend on this information to reach desired audience segments and boost engagement. However, it also helps sellers improve the advertising experience for their viewer bases. If broadcasters and media owners can ensure they serve relevant, contextualised ads, they can meet audience expectations for a quality viewing experience. Over one-quarter of audiences surveyed in Freewheel’s study claim they have a preference for ads which align with the content they are watching, 24% value ads informed by geolocation, and 20% prefer ads relate to their interests.

As a result, the ability to create a relevant viewing experience can be a key differentiator for media owners in the competitive TV landscape. It will capture viewers while also maximizing the appeal of their media offering to ad buyers. This creates a positive feedback loop, as uplifts to ad revenue can further improve advertising operations and help fund the production of quality video content, which in turn attracts bigger audiences, making premium video inventory even more valuable. Media companies are responsible for communicating this trade value to viewers, so they understand that by sharing their data they are unlocking a better experience in exchange.

Audiences’ trust, familiarity, and high levels of engagement with TV is what makes it such a valuable ad environment to build brands. TV’s evolution will undoubtedly demand advances in measurement, standardization, and tools that can connect the dots between fragmented audience segments. However, every development in these areas from, both buyers and sellers, must keep viewers at the heart of the innovation process. Doing so is absolutely critical for preserving audiences’ unique relationship with TV.

Liked this article?

Subscribe to the InContext newsletter to get insights like this delivered to your inbox every week.