“Advertising works by being subtle; it shouldn’t be measured by impressions or clicks, volume doesn’t necessarily lead to outcomes,” according to Martin Greenbank, head of advertising research and development for UK broadcaster Channel 4. “You need to target and deliver advertising in a contextually relevant way,” he told the MediaTel Big Day of Data (London, June 2018).

Evidence for that assertion was provided by two of his colleagues who outlined the UK broadcaster’s latest work. This uses AI to shift the media planning focus away from traditional audiences and programmes.

The broadcast context

Neil Taylor (lead data strategist commercial) and Samantha Adcock (senior research executive) explained how Channel 4 is deploying AI to identify storylines and “positive contextual moments” in programming. “I can watch a programme where a character has a glass of wine,” said Taylor, “[and] in the next ad break we can automatically place an ad for Blossom Hill, Hardy’s etc. – quite simply we’ve created a contextual moment.”