The TV Trading Model Won’t Change Until There’s a Convincing Argument Alternatives Will Improve Yield

Jill O'BrienAs it’s St Patrick’s Day we thought we’d take a look across the Irish Sea to what’s happening in the Irish market. And who better to speak to than Jill O’Brien who acts as both Head of Digital at TV3, Ireland’s largest commercial broadcaster, and as Head of the IAB Ireland Video Council. Here Jill explains the differences between the TV-focused video ad tech platforms and their competitors, the state of online video in Ireland, and the possibility of the TV industry moving linear online.

Many of the broadcasters choose to work with video ad tech companies that focus specifically on meeting the needs of the TV industry. What are the differences between those specialist platforms and those with a slightly wider focus? 

3player, TV3’s catch-up service, is now available on a range of platforms – desktop, mobile, games consoles, smart TV’s etc. The more platforms we developed for, the more apparent it became that we needed a specialist video partner to enable us to deliver advertising across all devices in a seamless, efficient way.

Serving, optimising and tracking engagement metrics on video ads across a range of entertainment devices requires a different set up to standard display advertising (in particular, specific video related event tracking) so after a thorough review process we made the decision to split out our ad serving systems for video and other display formats to ensure that we were using best practice systems for both. Videoplaza stood out to us as a company who are set up to meet our needs as a broadcaster. As a commercial broadcaster, reliant on advertising revenue, we needed the integration project to be quick and pain free for our clients: it was both, which is not something you can say very often with major platform changes!

Early last year, we kicked off the first in a series of updates to 3player by developing registration functionality which gives users additional benefits like pick up where you left off across multiple devices, the ability to create playlists and more social sharing features.

Like other broadcasters, the reasoning behind this is two-fold; to give viewers a more personalised viewing experience, giving them the content they want at their fingertips, and to give us as a greater understanding of our users, their demographic profile and viewing habits which helps to inform our content strategy. Videoplaza’s ‘Karbon’ DMP gives us a platform to manage our first party data and segment it in a useful way so that eventually we can offer our advertising partners the opportunity to engage with specific demographics and behavioural segments in a more granular way.

What’s the state of the online video market in Ireland? Are you seeing much competition from (non-broadcast) online publishers or is it harder for them to scale in what is a relatively small market?

It’s very healthy! One of the top agency groups here is reporting over 500 percent growth in their video ad spend in Q1. Admittedly Q1 2013 was a difficult one across all mediums, so the comparisons will look inflated, but there is significant optimism that the growth seen so far this year will continue, with digital ad spend expected to grow between 12-15% in 2014 and the display sector taking a 40% share of overall spend.

I have recently taken on the role of head of the IAB Ireland Video Council and we have strong representation from a mix of advertising agencies and video publishers, from broadcasters to news media websites to some of the big multinationals headquartered here in Dublin. All companies involved have taken notice of the rise in audio-visual content consumption and they know that advertising around this content returns a higher yield than other display formats so everyone is vying for a piece of that pie.

Broadcasters are naturally advantaged in their long form content offering and advertisers are increasingly recognising the power of TV and VoD when used together to improve recall and purchase intent. Where news media, and other entertainment websites, like our own can make gains is in short form video content that people can consume on the go in shareable chunks.

The challenge for everyone in the industry is to get agencies and brands to produce creative specifically for  video platforms as the sector grows. Of course there are cost considerations but advertisers should think of the experience the viewer will have whilst watching on different devices. Two things that advertisers can do is to create shorter (15″) ads and encourage interaction. We are partnering with some great companies in Ireland and the UK to offer advertisers exciting new interactive formats.

Which of the connected devices are you seeing the highest rates of growth on?

TV3 Group saw a 32 percent increase last year in video viewing across all devices. Viewing on mobile devices, driven by tablets, jumped from 23 percent in Q1 last year to almost 50 percent by the end of the year so we have had to adapt quickly to that trend and ensure the viewing experience is optimised across all screens.

Another area of growth for us has been the 3player on-demand service on UPC (part of Liberty Global). We have had consistent monthly growth on that platform and expect to see the same on the recently launch 3player on-demand offering on Sky. We also expect to see good growth this year on our smart TV applications thanks to improved functionality, design, and, of course, great content!

Are you selling any of your inventory programmatically? Will the need to trade programmatically ultimately push the TV industry online?

We work with Videology as a representative of one of the major agency groups here in Ireland and that partnership has worked well for us over the past year around our premium content. Whereas I recognise the benefits of programmatic in relation to display, the move towards trading video programmatically in Ireland has been slower than in other regions.

At the moment there seems to be a move in the other direction, in that there is a desire from some media agencies to align the video advertising buy more closely with the TV buy, in terms of AB deadlines, booking systems and creative delivery.

In regards to linear advertising being delivered programmatically, I believe that efficiencies could certainly be made in terms of automating workflow, and there has been considerable progress by some online video companies globally in developing the technology to bring programmatic buying to TV. Despite this, I don’t believe there will be a fundamental shift in the TV trading model, outside of smaller cable networks, any time soon unless there is a convincing argument that a move in that direction will improve yield.

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