Few clients and even fewer agency people seriously believe that TV is dead, or even critically ill. Not because we’re on the whole watching about the same amount as we were ten years ago (we are, although the profile is older). Not because some audiences are watching more than they were ten years ago (they are, although these tend to be older again). But because as a medium, it’s as effective as it ever was. The latest Binet and Field research shows TV to be delivering more significant business effects than it was a decade ago.

However, TV is changing. The gradual and long term decline in younger audiences presents one major problem that affects any advertiser targeting the under 50s: reach decline, and specifically decline in fast, 1+ cover. What this means is simple: landing a message quickly on TV, to lots of people, is harder and more expensive than it used to be. We took one of our clients’ campaigns from 2017 and went back to 2007 to ‘buy it again’.

The same number of ratings over a campaign period delivered 6 percentage points less 1+ reach. That’s 1.7m fewer ABC1 25-54 Adults, at an approximately 20% greater cost. And critically, each week’s cover built more slowly, with over 1.3m fewer ABC1 25-54s reached in the first week. The challenge is as clear for FMCG retailers launching a new variant as it is for a telco trying to land a new positioning; when you need to tell lots of people about something fast these days, you need more than TV.

We all know where the lost reach is going: to other forms of video. To broadcaster VOD, to You Tube, to Facebook. The trick is understanding, by audience, at which point in the curve it becomes more efficient to bring in forms of VOD. Don’t get me wrong; whatever your audience, you’ll be hard pushed to find a better, faster way to reach 50% of the population in 3 weeks than through TV. But cost efficiently getting to those higher levels of 1+ reach (65%-70% and beyond) is the hard part in today’s world, and it’s only going to get worse.

We have a tool at Zenith which allows us to plan the right AV mix for the right audience each time, right down to the individual VOD platform. So we can maximize reach across AV, using TV to the right level and bringing in VOD at the right time. For some audiences – such as 16-24s – Tardiis tells us the optimum mix is up to 30% VOD. This tool allows us to meet TV reach decline head on.

But what’s missing is industry effectiveness norms across different forms of VOD. At Zenith we use client econometrics and best practice knowledge to get it right, but we need some industry standards. What’s the best combination of TV, BVOD and You Tube for driving results? The next wave of C4 research into BVOD versus online video will be more about BVOD as a whole and will involve other broadcasters. We need more of this, as well as independent agency research.



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