Brands turn to advanced TV but scepticism remains

TVMarketing budgets might be facing the biggest squeeze since Covid but over half (53%) of all professionals are aiming to maintain overall spend in 2023, while even more (70%) intend to plough more into data-driven “advanced TV”; a figure that could rise significantly if clients were given more evidence of the medium’s benefits.

So says a new study from FreeWheel’s premium video media sales house, AudienceXpress, conducted by independent media research firm CoLab Media Consulting.

The study, which explores UK marketers’ perspective over the next 12 months, highlights a cautious approach to spend in light of the current economic climate. It also uncovers that confidence in advanced TV, including video-on-demand (VOD), Connected TV (CTV), OTT and addressable linear TV, remains strong.

The study found that while advertisers and agencies align on their overall top marketing objective of acquiring new customers, they diverge on other priorities and have different perspectives on how advanced TV can capture greater spend.

The UK market appears to be particularly sensitive to current economic uncertainty compared to the EU5 markets surveyed (Germany, France, Italy, Spain), as UK respondents show caution around boosting overall marketing investments. Most will not ‘go dark’ in the year ahead, however, with 53% planning to at least sustain current level of spend or even increase it.

Budgets will likely be used to drive customer acquisition, which is now the top marketing priority for 43% of UK respondents by a notable margin of 13%.

The second most important priority for UK advertisers is growing revenue, according to 38% of those questioned. For UK agencies it is customer retention (34%).

In line with the “upper-funnel” priorities, 45% regard reach as the number one driver for marketing success. While advertisers rate targeting as the second most important driver (26%), agencies place importance on media channel selection (32%) and tailoring creative (30%).

Confidence in advanced TV channels appears to be accelerating in the UK market, as 70% of marketers expect to increase their advanced TV budgets in the next 12 months. In comparison, the previous survey conducted in 2021, found that 60% of participants were planning to boost investment in the channels.

Present satisfaction levels with advanced TV spend also point towards growth, as 42% of UK marketers surveyed would like to see their organisation invest more in these channels.

The sophisticated audience targeting that advanced TV offers is considered the top driver of spend (28%), followed by the ability to connect with viewers across screens (25%).

When it comes to defining which factors are inhibiting spend, advertisers and agencies diverge. For the UK advertisers surveyed, lack of awareness around advanced TV is the biggest barrier to unlocking further growth (44%), but only 20% of UK agencies agreed. Instead, 30% of UK agencies rank clients’ lack of willingness to experiment with advanced TV channels as the most significant inhibitor to spend.

Advanced TV channels such as ad-supported video-on-demand (AVOD) and free ad-supported streaming TV services (FASTs) will attract higher levels of spend in the year ahead, believe 88% of UK marketers surveyed. According to 20% of respondents, these increases in spend will most likely be sourced from a combination of budgets.

AudienceXpress at FreeWheel director and head of UK & international demand sales Stefanie Briec said: “Optimism for AVOD and FASTs among UK marketers closely reflects the collective enthusiasm of the EU5 markets, with on average almost nine in ten marketers planning to increase their levels of spend in these channels.

“Continuing to meet marketers’ demand for advanced technological capabilities, such as data-driven and audience-based targeting, will drive additional growth. These findings also highlight the importance of raising awareness, as well as the need to quantify advanced TV’s performance and prove the value of adopting these impactful channels.”

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