Will longer and more frequent ads change our experience of broadcast TV entirely?
Increased minutage on linear, ad tiers on streaming services and a “screen-neutral” AV approach could present diverse opportunities for broadcasters, agencies and advertisers.
Ofcom is currently considering a proposal for longer and more frequent ad breaks on our televisions as part of their review of broadcasting rules.
There are currently seven minutes of ads per hour on public broadcasters (ITV, Channel 4, and Channel 5) and an added two minutes for private broadcasters. So, the news that Ofcom are considering longer, and more frequent ad breaks raises some important questions — notably, how will this affect my Saturday night in?
Will increased ad minutage more akin to US TV affect the viewing experience and the nation’s attitude to TV adverts entirely? I think not. However, it could be a big opportunity for broadcasters, brands, and agencies.
The steady rise of SVOD
The key driver for the Ofcom review is the increased popularity of subscription video-on-demand (SVOD) platforms such as Netflix, Amazon, and Disney+.
Currently SVOD holds 18% share of all video viewing in the UK. The pandemic accelerated this rise, with more people seeking entertainment at home, coupled with the launch of Disney+.
With the ability to binge-watch favourites, SVOD has created an incredibly competitive choice vs TV.
The streaming giants, backed with enormous worldwide subscription funded budgets can produce a flow of diverse and alternative programming.
However, with the growing cost-of-living, the clamping down on shared accounts, and the leader of the pack Netflix’s recent loss of one million subscribers, we have to ask ourselves how sustainable is this growth?
Content remains king
Content drives video viewing. Viewers are expanding their viewing habits, which calls for broadcasters to strengthen their content, to entice them back to linear TV.
Increased minutage would give broadcasters the revenue to allow them to invest more in audience-grabbing content. Allowing them to stand toe to toe with the streaming giants. With stronger programming and content, the need to go elsewhere, particularly to SVOD, will likely lessen.
The faster that broadcasters can adapt and cater to the needs of the viewer the better. Last year the BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5 spent a record £1.45bn, on shows from UK production companies, a 12% rise. A significant bounce back from the COVID-related production back log.
While Netflix and Amazon cut back on their UK-made shows by 16%. ITV have taken note, launching their ad-funded subscription service in November — ITVX. They will be offering exclusive and new programming only available through the platform, in a bid to capture heavy SVOD viewers and keep them in the broadcaster’s ecosphere.
A more even ad-funded playing field will evolve
With potential increased minutage and SVOD offering ad-funded alternatives, advertising across any screen or platform will quickly become the norm.
Netflix is launching a cheaper ad-supported subscription in November, Amazon rolled out a cost free and ad-based alternative to Prime Video called Freevee (previously called IMDd TV), and Disney + also announced they will be introducing an ad offering in late 2022.
The streaming giants see the value of advertising and they too want in on the action. Advertisers will soon have the opportunity to broaden their scope on TV, and beyond.
We need to think differently when it comes to broadcast advertising
Increased minutage on linear will open up more diverse opportunities for brands and make access to programming easier. Blipverts and sponsorships may become more attractive and lucrative options, and the widespread practice of product placement in the US may also become the norm in the UK.
Agencies and advertisers should consider options outside of traditional spot buys to stand out. The strength and salience of the creative will have even greater importance as advertisers seek to avoid creative wear-out and strengthen recall within a potentially larger pool of advertisers.
It’s also an opportunity for agencies to evolve their planning and buying models. While viewers are evolving their viewing habits and consuming more content than ever before, it falls on the agencies to become more creative with the way they capture audiences and where they migrate.
Moving towards a screen-neutral approach to capture AV viewers where we find them in broadcast environments is essential. At MediaCom, our OneAV approach does this, allowing brands to adopt reach-based planning and buying, while also merging data into their television spot buys through the use of our programmatic tools
Overall, this change encourages better TV planning, attention grabbing creatives, stronger content and most importantly better results for our clients.
I’ll take a few more minutes of ads for a gripping drama any day!
Victoria Pennant is AV account director at MediaCom