A survey by FreeWheel and CoLab Media Consulting finds advertisers increasingly attracted to ‘advanced TV’ media, such as connected TV and video-on-demand platforms.

Once seen as fierce rivals for the UK TV crown, the BBC and ITV recently announced they were joining forces with Channel 4 and Channel 5 to launch a single streaming platform. The new app shows that the ‘big four’ broadcasters are ready to compete with the flood of newcomers in the TV space.

The move also highlights the rapid growth in popularity of platforms and channels such as connected TV (CTV) and video-on-demand (VOD), which we can collectively refer to as ‘Advanced TV’. New research has found marketers are increasingly aware of the opportunities created by this trend to reach enormous and highly-engaged audiences – and now they should be looking to harness it fully.

The research, conducted by CoLab Media Consulting on behalf of FreeWheel between 23 July and 2 August 2021 in key European markets including the UK, found both advertisers and agencies are recognising Advanced TV’s potential to implement impactful marketing campaigns. So, what are the key factors that will further the growth of the medium, and what are UK marketers’ priorities in the year ahead?

Optimism should drive progress for Advanced TV

According to the CoLab survey, over the next 12 months, UK marketers appear to be confident about their global spend, with the majority of those questioned (71%) intending to maintain or increase their budgets. Marketers surveyed are anticipating a 4% net growth in their investments, which marks a significant improvement when compared to their -51% predictions during the pandemic. Agencies seems to be the most optimistic about their investments, as four-fifths (80%) of these respondents expect budgets to grow or stay the same.

The renewed intent to raise marketing spend suggests strong opportunities for the Advanced TV space. In fact, three-fifths (60%) of UK marketers featured in the survey indicate that they will direct some of this spend towards Advanced TV, raising their allocated budgets for the medium in the coming year. Altogether, marketers are honing their focus on CTV and OTT, as these areas of Advanced TV will see the biggest increase in spend, witnessing respective uplifts of 9.2% and 8.6%.

Fuelling this development is the continued diversification of media consumption patterns. CTV viewers across Europe, for example, claim to use a selection of two to three BVOD or AVOD services on average, according to a FreeWheel survey conducted earlier this year. So it is no surprise that the marketers we surveyed are planning to broaden their media mix to reach target audiences through Advanced TV’s premium video environments.

Advanced TV should play a larger part in marketing strategies

By the end of 2021, Advanced TV is expected to gain a higher percentage of UK marketers’ overall TV spend, the researchers found; rising from 23% in 2020 to 30% this year. This increase could be driven by Advanced TV’s ability to deliver against key marketing objectives, which suggest that advertisers and agencies are now placing more importance on upper-funnel strategies.

Revenue growth (61%) and improving customer acquisition (57%) remain front of mind for marketing respondents in 2021, while they also see reach and creative as the primary drivers for campaign effectiveness. As a TV-like medium with data-driven capabilities, Advanced TV is uniquely placed to attract eyeballs, expand reach, and serve engaging, quality creative to audiences.

What’s more, the survey found UK advertisers and agencies’ current priorities align more closely than in 2020. The main nuances between their objectives concern advertisers’ slightly stronger focus on brand awareness and consideration (44%), while agencies have their eye on enhancing ROI (27%) and meeting their clients’ long-term business goals (27%).

To support marketers in meeting their objectives, the infrastructure of the Advanced TV landscape is also evolving, which in turn should attract further spend.

Targeting capabilities are promoting growth in Advanced TV

According to the study, current investment in Advanced TV is being driven by factors including its advanced audience targeting techniques (55%) and its cross-screen targeting opportunities (43%).

With the media landscape currently saturated with ads and the industry navigating the end of third-party cookies, Advanced TV is helping marketers to make an impact on the right viewers at the right moment. As a space that has never utilised third-party cookies, marketers are understandably eager to invest in Advanced TV which may be explained by its more privacy-friendly targeting methods.

Moving forwards, it will be critical for the Advanced TV ecosystem to stay in touch with marketers’ objectives and address their needs. With marketers now concentrated on brand building and revenue growth, furthering the medium’s measurement capabilities will likely be important to sustaining its growth. By increasing confidence in its ability to boost ROI, as well as enhancing tools that provide quantifiable metrics such as reach and frequency, the industry could continue to establish Advanced TV’s role within marketing strategies.

Marketers’ optimism should create strong prospects for this space, with the majority of these respondent surveyed intending to increase spend in Advanced TV in the near future. While its sophisticated, cookieless approach to targeting seems to have been the core driver behind investment to date, there is an opportunity to boost its value even more.

Further education and collaboration will be important for marketers to harness Advanced TV’s full potential, but we can all take away the basic lessons from the UK broadcast giants: this is increasingly where audiences are to be found.