Does Freely offer something different to advertisers?

Does Freely offer something different to advertisers?

With the launch of Freely, the streaming service backed by the BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5, in Q2, advertisers and agencies have a new platform to reach audiences.

Freely, developed by Freeview and Freesat operator Everyone TV, aims to give viewers the ability to “seamlessly” browse channels through a “modern and intuitive” programme guide.

Will a slick, consolidated platform allow UK broadcasters to compete with the global streaming giants, while not taking away from their individual broadcast VOD (BVOD) services?

Collaboration with connected TV (CTV) manufacturers could also lead to innovations such as shoppable TV, as many households shift to watching TV via internet protocol (IP).

The Media Leader asked Freely, as well as a number of industry experts, what Freely’s roll-out means for advertisers.

Emma Moorhead, head of channel planning, Wavemaker UK

“Navigating what to watch on your TV set is time-consuming. According to a study by Now, we spend an average of 24 minutes a day just dipping in and out of apps deciding what to watch and each month typically sees two household disagreements over what to put on.

“Freely will make streaming TV from the BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5 a lot easier. For the consumer, this will make getting to great content a slicker experience. For the industry, this will be welcomed as a consolidated platform to compete with the global streaming giants.

“And for advertisers, it’ll make the quality commercial broadcaster environment stickier, retaining a much-needed and valued audience.”

Matthew Bailey, principal analyst, media and entertainment, Omdia

“Freely represents an opportunity for broadcasters to build the kind of conver ged scale required to compete with big techs. But because Everyone TV will not be taking a role in inventory aggregation, issues around fragmentation for advertisers and agencies will remain.

“There’s a great opportunity to harmonise audiences across live and on-demand TV in Freely, but combining campaigns on Freely-delivered channels with those on owned-and-operated BVOD services — which are by default privy to logged-in user data — will create further complexities.

“Data-sharing partnerships between Everyone TV, Freely broadcasters and perhaps even CTV manufacturers will likely be crucial. A consortium approach to data-sharing, ad sales and ad technology is another potential option. There are other opportunities to grow the value of TV advertising through Freely — shoppable TV, for instance, will become a distinct possibility.

“Given Freely’s apparent aims of replicating the traditional linear experience (and ensuring prominence for PSBs in an increasingly streaming-dominated market), there is also the possibility that the majority of advertising on Freely will remain identical to that seen on traditional broadcast TV — a format that remains highly popular to brands seeking mass simultaneous reach.”

Victoria Davies, managing partner, Davies, Stoychev & Partners

“Freely will bring a new dynamic to advertisers. Improved data will enable better targeting for advertisers and its delivery via IP should unlock access to the all-important younger target demographic. These are distinct advantages for advertisers in expanding campaigns beyond traditional TV and accessing valuable demographics.

“Moreover, digitally focused advertisers and agencies that shy away from traditional TV advertising can benefit from a new environment and an increased CTV inventory. One question for advertisers to evaluate will be the scale that Freely can deliver from day one and the speed at which it will ramp up.”

Jonathan Thompson, CEO, Everyone TV

“As viewing behaviour evolves, Freely will enable audiences across the UK to watch live TV content via streaming — and this is a significant development for advertisers.

“With half of all UK homes projected to be IP by 2030, Freely will ensure broadcasters and advertisers can reach key CTV audiences at scale for years to come, but now with the added benefit of all the data and tools that a CTV environment offers.

“A future with Freely is bright for advertisers, with opportunities to reach TV audiences through the UK’s most-watched channels, secured for the streaming age.”

Thompson, Moorhead, Bailey and Davies will be speaking at Connected TV World Summit, where this topic and more, such as new business models and innovations in TV, will be hotly debated.

The event takes place during 12-13 March at ETC 155 Bishopsgate, London.

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