Four Key Points for Navigating TV Advertising’s Progress

By Stefanie Briec, Director, Head of Demand Sales UK & International, AudienceXpress at FreeWheel

TV is experiencing a rapid evolution, fuelled by European marketers’ ongoing interest and investment in advanced TV channels such as video-on-demand (VOD), connected TV (CTV), and linear addressable.

From privacy regulations and programmatic progress to the growing demands of buyers, sellers, and audiences alike, many factors will be steering this ship across uncharted waters. To successfully navigate TV’s advertising transformation, there are four cardinal points directing progress.

The viewer experience is the North Star

Audiences have high expectations for advertising on advanced TV channels, as these are high-quality environments where viewers tune in for TV-like content. Premium video providers must ensure the volume, relevance, and placement of ads within the content align with audience expectations to maintain a quality viewing experience.

One-third (32%) of UK CTV respondents in AudienceXpress’ 2023 consumer survey appreciate contextual ads that reflect the content they are watching, mirroring the standards of linear TV where contextual is a well-established targeting technique. Additionally, more than seven in 10 UK survey participants with a CTV screen believe social video aggregators have too many ads. By meeting viewer demands of advanced TV channels, premium video providers can build closer connections with their audiences, sustaining trust and engagement with TV. In doing so, they will guarantee these channels are highly valuable ad environments for brands.

Viewers’ priority is finding accessible, quality content on their TV screens and they are more than willing to jump ship if they cannot find it. For example, 59% of UK respondents who tune in to content via FASTs on CTV use these channels when there is nothing they want to watch on linear TV. This emphasises that viewers care far more about what they watch than the device or platform they use to watch it. Free, professionally produced content is the “X” that marks the spot where marketers can reach their audiences.

Additionally, 46% of UK participants watch free ad-supported services on their CTVs every day, meaning these channels often become an established part of the viewing mix when adopted. Nearly six in 10 UK CTV viewers surveyed also watch more ad-supported streaming platforms than linear TV, which presents marketers with a promising opportunity to engage sought-after segments and drive incremental reach.

The sun is setting on mindsets that aren’t privacy centric

While regulators have been focused on the digital advertising space, the turning tide away from third-party cookies is affecting every player in the ad industry. Advanced TV advertising technologies are not reliant on third-party cookies, but marketers can increasingly leverage data to inform ad buying on these channels and connect with desired audiences.

In light of this, the premium video ecosystem must place data privacy at the heart of innovation to future-proof emerging advertising solutions and preserve viewers’ unique relationship with TV and TV-like content. Advertising has long been an established element of the TV viewing experience, but when only one-quarter of UK CTV audiences who participated in the AudienceXpress survey want to share their data for more personalised ads, marketers need to concentrate on regaining audience trust.

By being transparent around how audience data is used and how it funds TV and premium video content, the ad industry can improve education around the value exchange.

Better automation and collaboration will create an easier route for buyers

Alongside data privacy, the TV advertising ecosystem needs to refine the accuracy of its data-enablement processes and make media buying more transparent. Closer connections between buyers and sellers will be important for improving visibility of the advertising supply chain. Using premium programmatic channels, for instance, can give ad buyers access to quality inventory while maintaining efficiency and clarity over what they are purchasing. They also give premium video providers greater control over their inventory, enabling them to better preserve the quality viewing experience for their audiences.

Additionally, buyers need the ability to unlock the value of their first-party data and use it to both define core audiences and connect with new, relevant audiences too. When informed by privacy-safe data insights, audience extension helps marketers broaden their reach among key segments.

Although the wider advertising industry is navigating choppy waters due to economic concerns, advanced TV remains buoyant and continues to attract ad spend. To progress advanced TV even further, privacy-centric advertising solutions, greater connectivity across the ecosystem, and tapping the value of emerging channels will each play a key role. Above all, marketers and premium video providers must put audiences first and make certain that viewer preferences and expectations guide their journey forward.