ITV to break TV ad dependence

26 January 2011

LONDON: ITV, the UK's largest commercial broadcaster, is to diversify its ad offerings away from the traditional commercial break by boosting online ad sales.

Speaking to the Financial Times, Fru Hazlitt, the network's director of commercial and online operations, said changes were necessary to "future proof" the business.

She also said ITV had been "complacent" and was now over-reliant on traditional TV ad sales, revenues from which can be "hideously cyclical".

Possible ways of raising the firm's online ad revenues include striking more deals with third parties.

"We have to get a grip ... and really understand how we continue to own [our content] and monetise it effectively on those platforms – because we really only know how to do it as a 30-second spot on the broadcast platform," Hazlitt added.

As part of this initiative, ITV recently announced that its catch-up service would be available to PlayStation 3 games console users.

Hazlitt also called for an improvement to ITV's relationships with agencies.

"They think if they do us any favours they'll get stitched and if we do them any favours we'll get stitched," she added.

"It's exhausting."

Interim results released in August showed that net advertising revenue at the broadcaster had risen 18% year-on-year in H1 2010 to reach £728m ($1.15bn, €842m).

Ad sales were boosted by the World Cup - traditionally a big draw for ITV - over the six month period.

For 2010 as a whole, ITV's ad revenues are expected to rise by "at least 15%", according to figures cited by the Financial Times.

TV remains the UK's single most-popular media channel for adspend.

According to Warc's latest International Ad Forecast, total TV spend (inclusive of sponsorship) in the UK rose by an estimated 12.6% in 2010 to reach $6.5bn.

Online, the next largest medium, is expected to have increased 9.5% to $6bn.

Data sourced from Financial Times/Warc; additional content by Warc staff