New York: Coca-Cola has created some of the most memorable commercials in television history. Now the company is looking for something more.
“TV networks still have a role, but we’re interested in the mix between traditional TV and emerging digital platforms,” said Ivan Pollard, a top marketing executive at Coca-Cola North America.
Coca-Cola is just one of many brands now shifting advertising budgets to digital and social media, which offer the promise of better consumer data and the ability to reach targeted audiences. The goal is to capture the attention of today’s fickle, commercial-skipping viewers, who consume content on multiple screens and on their own schedules.
As advertisers rethink their campaign strategies, broadcast and cable networks are adapting their sales pitches to marketers as well. “Everyone is coming out with a data play, a data product, right now,” said Jeff Lucas, head of sales for Viacom Media Networks, whose channels include MTV and Nickelodeon.
Television networks are facing declining ratings and heightened competition from digital outlets. And while television still dominates the ad market, with some $70 billion (Dh257 billion) in ad spending last year in the US, online ad spending is swelling. In particular, digital video, which attracted $5.8 billion in ad spending in the US last year, is expected to grow to $7.8 billion this year and to $12.8 billion by 2018, according to the research firm eMarketer.
“The consumers in the digital world are not going to be captive viewers that will sit through 16 minutes of ads an hour,” Chase Carey, chief operating officer of 21st Century Fox, said. “Advertising will have to be more effective and engaging to justify a premium. We’ll need to work more closely with advertisers to connect with consumers in ways they value and enjoy.”
For the traditional television industry, that means giving advertisers more data and better ad-buying solutions. Networks are also offering packages that allow advertisers to buy spots for both TV and digital content.
NBC promoted its suite of data-driven ad products, including NBCUx, which enables targeted ad buying. “These platforms and products ensure that your campaigns — your ads — are reaching the right consumers,” Linda Yaccarino, the chairwoman of advertising sales and client partnerships at NBCUniversal, said.
Recently, 21st Century Fox acquired a digital ad firm called TrueX, which makes a technology that replaces a series of standard ads or video commercials with one interactive ad.
ABC’s data-driven products include tools that allow advertisers to optimise their ad placements for specific audience segments beyond just age and gender. At a series of events this year, Viacom showcased Viacom Vantage, which offers advertisers the ability to target specific consumers across the company’s portfolio of networks.
TV networks are also relying more on live programming. At the same time, digital outlets are trying to establish themselves in the TV space. Many recently held their own presentations for advertisers — called newfronts, or new upfronts.
At Hulu’s event last month, Peter Naylor, the company’s senior vice-president for advertising sales, said, “Hulu is TV.” Shane Smith, the chief executive of Vice Media, presented what he called the company’s “personal TV slate”.
Many of the 33 companies that held newfront presentations — including Yahoo, Conde Nast Entertainment and Time Inc. — introduced original, long-form programming that resembled premium TV shows. AOL announced a distribution and licensing agreement with NBCUniversal that allows the companies to share and develop programming together.
All of this means that the line between TV and digital is rapidly blurring, with advertisers caring more about the effectiveness of their ads than where they run.
“It’s about going where the money is being spent,” Naylor of Hulu said in an interview.