ITV, the UK’s largest commercial broadcaster, is attempting to cast the net of brands advertising on its platforms wider through a dedicated in-house client team to service smaller brands, a new WARC exclusive finds.

Speaking exclusively to WARC, Kelly Williams, ITV’s Managing Director, Commercial, revealed that the broadcaster is seeing a surge of interest from new-to-TV brands precisely at the moment that some of the medium’s most dependable advertisers are slashing budgets.

“FMCG and retail were probably the two biggest categories in television, and they’re being disrupted quite significantly [by a] three-pronged attack: they’re getting squeezed by the supermarkets, and particularly the discounters, the Aldis and Lidls; by the shift in currencies, because they’re global businesses; and by what they call micro-brands,” said Williams.

“It’s not like one big competitor – it’s a combination of lots of little brands sneaking into their world. They’re cutting costs and they're cutting marketing spend, particularly on TV. What’s interesting is that the new digital brands are doing the opposite and coming into TV.” ITV is beginning to help them do it directly.

Figures from Thinkbox, the UK’s commercial TV body, show that online businesses (including everyone from Google to Just Eat and Trivago) represent the biggest category of advertisers on British television. Collectively, they accounted for almost 15% of total spend on TV in 2018 – and 40% more than the next-largest category, food.

Of specific interest to broadcasters, however, is the newer group of “digitally-native” start-up brands. These companies are typically beginning to reach the scale at which point they may benefit from the mass-reach and brand-building benefits offered by television media.

“We help [new-to-TV advertisers to] optimise their campaigns, we help make sure that they’re getting the right frequency, that they’re using the right channel mix [and] the right day part mix”.

According to Williams, they often start small, testing campaigns in specific regions or with the broadcaster’s VOD platform, ITV Hub. As soon as marketing teams are content with results, they are then willing to dial up activity.

The “start-up mentality” of such brands means they are especially focused on discussing potential outcomes: “They don’t come and talk about brand metrics, or reach and frequency and the like – it’s just, ‘what is this going to do for my business?’”

At the moment, many of these new relationships are characterised by a more flexible approach to contracts, and a greater focus on business metrics over brand metrics. “What it’s helping us do is to create much more of a business relationship with these clients, as opposed to a media relationship,” said Williams.

Sourced from WARC, Thinkbox