Emily Tan
Jan 8, 2015

TV advertisers demand more bang for buck

Divided attention spans, clutter and limited inventory have broadcasters looking to technology for new avenues of growth.

Triggered by a show’s theme tune, ScanAd’s interactive games let viewers win points or prizes
Triggered by a show’s theme tune, ScanAd’s interactive games let viewers win points or prizes

There are only so many minutes in a day that can be sold for advertising, and TV broadcasters may have reached the limit of what advertisers are willing to pay for in exchange for 30 seconds of possible attention in a cluttered space.

Revenues from TV advertising in Asia-Pacific are expected to climb from US$39.7 billion in 2013 to US$52.7 billion in 2018 according to PWC’s Global entertainment and media outlook 2014-2018 report, with terrestial TV accounting for 84 per cent. However, experts say that advertisers are asking for higher levels of engagement with viewers and the metrics to go with it from broadcasters. 

“What’s happening is that the cost of TV on a CPM basis is no longer as cheap as it used to be and as online inventory becomes more widely available, the CPMs across those media are dropping,” says Sunil Yadav, president of Amplify Asia-Pacific, the media investment arm of Dentsu Aegis Network. “So clients, either for cost-efficiency reasons or facing the fact that they’ve saturated TV, are looking for other spaces in which they can utilise those assets.”

The consumer’s constantly divided attention is another reason advertisers are demanding further engagement, says Ricky Ow, president of Turner International Asia-Pacific. “The challenge for us is to reach them seamlessly across all platforms.”

Sensing opportunity, technology players such as Twitter TV, ScanAd and Mirriad have all launched in Asia-Pacific in the last year or two. Twitter is getting its foot in the door by offering broadcasters something they desperately need: metrics that tie online attention to TV’s GRP system. 

“Broadcasters can take the numbers of the buzz and volume happening on Twitter to a client or an agency and prove that viewers are highly socially engaged and they should pay a premium to advertise during the show,” explains Danny Keens, global chair of TV. 

Launch in the US in 2012, Twitter TV Ratings has only recently been introduced to Australia and Japan, although it has announced plans with Kantar earlier this year to bring the ratings to Southeast Asia. Its findings in the US have so far helped to prove value in engaging audiences online as well as on TV. 

In partnership with Nielsen US, Twitter found that users who are only watching TV have a 17 per cent chance of changing the channel, a 13 per cent chance if they’re using a mobile phone and only 8 per cent chance if they’re engaged online. When it comes to ad recall, viewers have a 53 per cent chance of remembering an ad screened during a programme if they were posting on Twitter versus 40 per cent if just watching TV. 

But Twitter isn’t proving as popular with TV viewers in Asia as it is in the West, says Yadav. This is possibly, he speculates, due to the relative paucity of content making its global debut onscreen in the region. It was this lack of a bridge between mobile and TV that led Christophe Hochart to launch ScanAd, an app platform that scans for embedded sound cues in TV shows or ads and provides relevant content.

One of the first channels to work with ScanAd, Fox International, tested the technology out on its programme, Brave New World, to offer viewers additional content. “That was last year. Today, every ad sales pitch from Fox includes ScanAd,” says Hochart proudly. So far ScanAd has also worked with Unilever’s Rexona, Subaru and Lenovo. The app boasts an average conversion rate of 4.5 per cent. 

Tech firm Mirriad was also launched to generate further revenue streams for existing  TV content. Born from an Oscar award-winning visual effects studio, Mirriad scans programmes for potential inventory space. When Johnson & Johnson’s Clean & Clear wanted to target Indonesia’s teenagers, Mirriad, in partnership with Whisper Media , placed the brand in the shows favoured by the nation’s 15- to 19-year-olds. The products appeared as ads on signage and in the bedrooms and countertops of lead characters. After a seven-week period, Mirriad reported that 66 per cent of the target audience wanted to buy the product. 

The idea, says Michael Rees, Mirriad’s VP for Asia-Pacific, is to gain brands more exposure without adding to the clutter. 

The TV ad model may not be broken, but you’d have to “have your head in the sand” to think the status quo will remain, says Rees. “The problem we see is that brands can’t buy enough of the rating points they need, and that’s a real problem because they will move on to something else unless broadcasters can come up with something.”

CASE STUDY Thailand’s got talent

To promote engagement and watch-backs of a reality show, Thailand’s Got Talent, and engagement with the sponsor, Rexona, IPG Mediabrands Thailand used ScanAd to hook audiences and award prizes.

When the app was deployed, it linked to the video soundtrack on the show as it screened on TV or on YouTube and got audiences to answer a few simple questions about the show to win ‘Rexona Points’, which could be exchanged for prizes.

During the show, ScanAd was used more than 3 million times, engaging 825,000 users who accumulated 195 million Rexona Points. The campaign also drove 40.6 million watch-back views. 

Our view: A key takeaway is additional exposure and engagement without added clutter. Broadcasters and tech providers who deliver that will win brand dollars. 

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