How have all of the recent changes, specifically within the television industry – such as the launch of new free-to-air digital multi-channels, the inclusion of PVR viewing in the ratings panel, the development of online catch-up TV services - been received by advertisers?
The specific changes within the television industry have generally been well received. More specifically, the free-to-air digital multi-channels have been a big hit with advertisers, and are being supported by growth in both advertising revenue and audiences.
The introduction of a new ratings panel is always going to cause some conjecture in the market, as changes will always occur to past outputs i.e. drops in popularity of some programs, growth for others.
The same can be said for the inclusion of PVR viewing and catch up TV: they are adding an element of additional data sets and work for agencies.
However, the general consensus is that data drives accountability, and we are certainly seeking more measurable outcomes for our investments.
How has the TV trading environment changed over the course of your time in the industry? How has the relationship between media buyers and the networks evolved?
The major factors that have changed over the course of my time in the industry are:
• The advent of agency 'groups' instead of single agency buying points – resulting in bigger, centralised volume pools.
• The introduction of more robust data, both proprietary and industry, that has made for improved and more transparent
• The delivery of "new media" emerging as serious competition for audiences.
• The shifts within TV itself, such as changing viewing patterns and distribution models.
These have all been positive introductions that have had an impact on how we view, recommend and buy television. However, one thing that doesn’t tend to change over time is that we are fundamentally a people business that develops relationships and trades on these. Relationships are still hugely important to what we do and will continue to be so, no matter how the industry advances.
The introduction of digital multi-channels, as well as blockbuster programming, has helped drive record audiences this year for free-to-air television and people are spending more time watching TV in 2010. What factors do you believe are important for the free-to-air industry to continue its momentum?
TV is fundamentally an entertainment environment. The most important factor for the free-to-air industry is to continue to be the pre-eminent entertainment destination for consumers.
It’s quite simple: better entertainment will deliver larger audiences, which attract advertisers. Innovation in programming, quality content and communication delivery will be the keys for the industry to continue its momentum. I also think that good quality, localised content will continue to be a better option, versus lower-rent imported fodder.
The next 12 months will see a continuation of digital switchover, the launch of more new digital free-to-air channels, further exploration of 3D broadcasting, and a further expansion of TV content both online and via mobiles. From a media buying perspective, what are the key issues or challenges you see facing the television sector in the next 12 months and beyond?
Resourcing from both ends - the sellers and the buyers. All these new advances radically increase the number of transactions within each campaign. Media buyers’ remuneration is going to require an overhaul to be able to cope with the multitude of transaction delivery points, and the cost and time of labour associated with this. I don’t think that automation will resolve this issue in the short term.
Given the rapid pace of change we’re witnessing, what are the three key attributes media buyers need to succeed in today’s media environment?
- Resilience - to the rapid pace of change we’re witnessing
- Understanding - of how changes in the industry, and in technology, effect what we do
- Balance - having a balanced real world view on the impact of technology on consumer behaviour - and the ability to separate hype from reality.