Category: Future of

TV is back. And this time it’s personal

The Future of TV Advertising conference is becoming a fixture in the media calendar. This year’s affair featured a renewed confidence in the strength that TV can deliver for clients. This was largely due to two factors: a thorough econometric study from Thinkbox which showed the ROI of TV, and the ongoing brand safety and viewability concerns plaguing digital media. Several themes became apparent throughout the conference, which I have expanded on below:

The ROI of TV

A new study from ebiquity, commissioned by Thinkbox, has shown TV unequivocally drove the best ROI. This was true in the short-term, but was even more pronounced in the long-term. Everyone knows how powerful TV can be at building brands, but it was strange to see marketers having to remind themselves of this fact, and question the levels of investment they were getting from digital.

Hitesh Bhatt from Samba TV made the point that actually ROI is highest when TV and Digital work together. TV is misunderstood due to the inability to measure as much as digital, and actually broadcasters should be working with agencies and digital partners as much as possible to really prove their value further. This was reiterated by Ryan Jamboretz, CCO of Videology, who also called for broadcasters to define Advanced TV before someone else does.

Addressable TV is getting closer to possible

For a long time addressable TV, or programmatic TV, has been a dream for clients and agencies. It seems like that dream is close to a reality today, certainly in the UK and US markets. In the US, the introduction of OpenAP is allowing advertisers to reach specific audiences across a range of broadcasters. In the UK, Sky has been offering this approach for the past couple of years. The recent launch of Group M’s Finecast looks to broaden the opportunity beyond Sky, and currently involves all broadcasters bar ITV.

Does this mean personalised TV will become the norm? Interestingly, most major advertisers thought not. Many argued that in reality, there is little wastage in TV, as all views could be valuable. Richard Brooke, global media director for Unilever, pointed out when Dove for Men launched, the target audience, men, knew instantly what the brand positioning was. The reason for this was they had seen so many female-targeted Dove ads in the prior decade. Echoed by Rick Mandler, VP of Strategy and Digital at ABC, who said that as an industry we know that data driven advertising will always be part of our future, but if we only focus on micro-targeting we will lose the broader brand perception which gives them meaning.

The other downside is cost. The ROI for addressable still did not deliver compared to more large-scale TV campaigns aimed at broad audiences. However, addressable TV has been brilliant at persuading smaller more niche clients to use TV for the first time. For example, Mclaren, selling a £175,000 sports car, used TV instead of direct mail for the first time.

Brand Safety and Viewability is weighing on everyone’s minds

This was a TV conference, so the bias was understandable, but most advertisers expressed their concerns with digital marketing. David Benson from Google was left to defend YouTube, and pointed out that AI improvements are now helping remove unsuitable materials in 87% of cases before they have even been flagged. But this may not be enough to persuade some large advertisers back to the platform. They want to be able to target audiences, and TV now seems to be opening up that opportunity in a safer environment.

Sheryl Sandberg of Facebook, had previously said Facebook delivers a Superbowl-sized audience every night. Fox TV looked at the numbers, realised this stat wasn’t close to the reality, and published the data showing they deliver the equivalent of 700 Facebook audiences each day.

Ben Sutherland, CMO for Diageo, shows a cartoon illustrating the thoughts of many in the room on the difficulties with digital advertising:

After outlining his approach for building a trusted marketplace for Diageo, he also called for digital partners to show a step forward approach in terms of the seriousness around brand safety and ad fraud across the board, more than just through white and black lists.

Will TV keep losing young viewers to OTT?

If there was a dark note to the air of self-congratulation, it was the growing reach, and deep pockets of Netflix and Amazon. Both services continue to be successful, especially with younger audiences, and are taking viewers into an ad-free space. Their success to date has been built around drama and comedy (see image) but there was much talk that Amazon in particular may explore live sports as the next step. In the US they have broadcast NFL games this year. Apple, Facebook and Google also look interested in growing their OTT services and potentially using sport as a way in. Sport has huge attractions for these businesses: a built-in audience, they are willing to pay a premium to watch, and they have shown already they will move platforms to view.

The final and over-arching message of the conference was that there is definitely a future for TV, and an exciting one at that, as long as broadcasters and agencies/brands take control and define their future in the right way with their consumers at front of mind.

The Battle for the Living Room

TV viewing has dramatically changed over the past few years. New companies, new formats, new devices and new subscription models have all impacted what we can only very loosely still call ‘TV viewing.’ At a recent evening organised by MTM, we heard some of the brightest and the best from Sky, BBC, YouView and Google debate how our beloved googlebox experience may change even more over the next decade.

The biggest changes we can expect are around data, voice search, the user experience and ultimately the battle for YOUR living room.

Firstly, the opportunity with data is huge, and TV content providers are only just getting started. Everyone has taken note of the success Netflix had, and they are looking to improve the user experience through data to understand and personalise the viewing experience. This makes the EPG critical. In the UK, given their data capabilities and reach, Sky and BBC should be able to go toe to toe with Amazon and Netflix. Everyone else is in the uncomfortable position of playing catch-up.

The challenge is, viewers want content suggestions tailored to them and their viewing habits, but also want completely left-field suggestions they would never choose themselves and might love! No small task.

Voice search and command is highly significant, but also the great unknown. Searching via voice is twice as popular amongst 18-34s compared to all adults. Understandably, people are far more comfortable talking out loud from the comfort of their own house than in public. This means TV content is some of the most searched for via voice. Currently, content providers are trying to work out how to balance users switching between remote control use and voice.

Amazon’s Alexa’s technology is moving into more smart TV, offering Alexa as a catch-all assistant for viewing content on your TV, provided it is connected. Unsurprisingly, Google is not far behind in linking assistant to your TV alongside other household devices, and Apple TV already utilises Siri.

So rather than a battle for your TV, or perhaps your living room, this is quickly escalating into a battle for the OS to your home!

The engineers in the room were getting very excited about UX. Known to people like me as the user experience. It seems everyone is developing, learning from and improving upon everyone else’s UX. This amalgamation, where data meets the interface, meets navigation, and crucially gets you to compelling content fast, is the utopia moment for all broadcasters.

Interestingly, most are already testing different layouts, messaging and content. So, no-one’s Netflix or Sky interface will look the same as anyone else’s.

This brings us neatly onto the next significant development: The TV as an entertainment hub in the future. As voice interface more readily controls your TV, lights, curtains and thermostat, the TV may well become your main household interface. Whilst we may then spend more time with the big screen, TV content will be elbowed out the way by a plethora of other uses.

As TVs integrate a camera and movement recognition, we will more happily use the main set for video calls and games taken straight from apps. Games consoles can already be integrated into the main set. Photo albums and video clips can happily be called up from phone or Facebook with a simple command, and the TV becomes a social hub too. Snapchat lenses are far more fun when there is room for the whole family to be turned into rainbow-spewing trolls!

Where does this leave today’s content creator and provider? Interestingly there were some truisms that remain. The power of channel brands still exists, and their heritage makes them a default viewing option for years to come. Additionally, linear scheduling was still seen as important. Releasing an episode a week creates talkability over time which binge watching cannot yet compete with.

And finally, we may never rid ourselves of the power of Saturday Night. Families and friends still want to congregate together, to watch the biggest shows as a collective, connected mass. All the voice-controlled, Alexa-powered technology in the world cannot deter us from tuning into a bit of Ant n’ Dec.

Generation Clash

By Joe Wilson

Swamped with student debt, struggling to climb the housing ladder and feeling betrayed by the Brexit result, it’s easy to understand why the finger-pointing rift between the younger and older generations is bigger than it’s ever been.

This growing disconnect came to a head last week when the Twitter-sphere descended into full intergenerational warfare with the emergence of #HowToConfuseAMillennial. The millennial mocking hashtag started as a light-hearted joke about generational differences but soon turned dark when members of the Baby Boomers and Gen X generations began using it as a means of attacking the younger generations on anything from their ‘digital-obsession’ to their ‘apparent dislike of employment’.

The hashtag struck a nerve and before long the fightback was on. Unsurprisingly, on a platform controlled by a millennial majority, this resulted in the posts of their parents and grandparents being relentlessly swamped with replies, many of which pointing out the irony of their use of social media to make their argument.



This generation clash brings to light the significant pre- and misconceptions existing across generations. It is, therefore, a timely occurrence that our The Future of Generations research project launches today, tackling these generational myths head on and finding out what perceptions these groups of consumers actually hold.

Keep an eye out for OMD UK’s The Future of Generations results being circulated soon.

Originally posted on the OMD UK blog.

Future of Ireland: Phase 2

Following the success of the Future of Ireland last November, we launched the second phase this week in the offices of our sponsor, Ulster Bank. The theme of Phase 2 is Community and Belonging, two themes that stood out in our initial research.

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In an age of technology, opening up more diverse and geographically spread social communities, what better time to start the conversation around what many have always seen as the fabric of Irish society – our own communities. To delve into this theme we conducted an online survey amongst 1000 people living in Ireland, to try and get under the skin of what Community means to them.  We also talked to a dozen community leaders – in areas ranging from grass roots sports to mental health, from active ageing to volunteer cardiac first responders. These included Matt English from Special Olympics, Justin McDermott from Jigsaw Galway and Aidan Murray, the Chairman of Caltra GAA club.

Through this research we uncovered connecting themes including Friends and Family, Volunteering, and whether Communities are flourishing or not (they are!) As we found in our original survey, the theme of control and people taking control of their own destinies comes through strongly. Communities start with a connection, be it through friends, family or neighbours. 56% of us know our neighbours well while 36% of us have left keys with neighbours – a strong indication of community bonding. Our research also showed that 48% of people are optimistic about the future of their community; that 1 in 4 are involved in their communities and that 36% feel they have skills they could use more in a local community.

We launched the Future of Ireland: Phase 2 to a small invited audience and held a panel discussion with our community leaders to kick-start the conversation.So far we have had six articles in the national press, three radio interviews and numerous online articles.  We’re incredibly proud to have a history of action in the area of communities around Ireland and we are now seen as very credible thought leaders.

To view the full report, or to find out more about the Future of Ireland, please visit

Future of Britain

In 2013, OMD UK launched the Future of Britain. In the wake of the recession, they found that British lives were fundamentally changing. There was a need to delve deeply into this to better understand the implications the recession had on the way British people consume brands and technology, as well as how they relate to each other.

In this research OMD UK didn’t simply confirm that Britain was changing, they also uncovered detailed insights demonstrating the extent to which attitudes, values and behaviours of the nation were shifting. After this wave of research there was a great appetite from OMD UK’s clients and colleagues to dig deeper into the trends.

Therefore, OMD UK launched their second phase – Living with Future Britain, an innovative mobile ethnography study which enabled them to virtually live with British households, and gain a richer understanding of what makes British people tick. Over 200 Brits from across the nation shared images and videos detailing all aspects of their lives, from the food in their fridges to the products they have in their bathroom cabinets!

Since these two revolutionary projects, numerous waves of the Future of Britain have been launched, using a plethora of research techniques to provide insights into different areas. These include exploring changing family relationships and household dynamics in ‘The Future of Families’, looking into how connected Britain helps people become more empowered in ‘Now and Next’, and most recently the myths of Christmas shopping behaviour and attitudes in ‘The Future of Christmas’.

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So what is next for The Future of Britain? The plan for 2016 is to launch smaller and more thematic modules across the year to continue delivering the company promise of being culturally connected. In particular, OMD UK are looking at four themes – audience, how we spend time together, media and different sectors and categories.

Right now the team are working on their Generations piece. This addresses the changes in attitude towards youth, middle-aged and the elderly, accompanied by a blurring of traditionally perceived boundaries of age-appropriate behaviour and lifestyles.

The objective of the Generations research piece is to challenge some of these assumptions, and stereotypes as well as understand intergenerational relationships, shared values and uncover intergenerational differences on attitudes towards categories and brands. For this, OMD UK have commissioned House 51, specialists in Behavioural Economics, to support with the analysis. Part of the research included IRT (Implicit Response Testing), which uses time constraints to give a less rationalised view of perceptions of different age groups in Britain today.

This project is also a platform to provide a point of view on Purpose-Led Marketing; evaluating the potential impact it could have on brand image and purchase intent.

Whilst OMD UK are knee deep in the analysis stage the launch is set for the next few months so keep your eyes peeled for an update soon.

For more information please visit the Future of Britain blog or contact the team at [email protected]

Introducing “The Future of the UAE”

In a country that is evolving rapidly, change is the only constant. The ‘plates’ of the UAE’s consumer landscape are continuously shifting, with new waves of expatriates arriving each day and technology continuing to transform our lives. As a result, the consumer’s psyche, attitude and behaviours are evolving, making business a challenging task. To document and explore this evolution, OMD UAE launched the ‘Future of the UAE’ in December 2015. 2000 face-to-face interviews were conducted to better understand how the UAE population live today and how they expect to live tomorrow. The survey delved into Emiratis and expatriates’ views on happiness, lifestyles, technology, the environment, values, national identity, financial priorities, health, work-life balance, entrepreneurship and purchasing decision influencers.

Balancing between tradition and modernity, the UAE is forging a path towards the future, one that includes the key notion of happiness, national identity, entrepreneurship and sustainability. These are some of the notions OMD UAE explored and found that, despite the occasional bumps in the road, residents are overwhelmingly optimistic – approximately 90% of UAE residents are optimistic about the future and believe their lives will significantly improve in the next two years. Fadi Maktabi, OMD UAE’s Head of Strategy, highlights that the economic downturn of the past few years has done little to dent the ambitions and aspirations of UAE residents. Whilst some do struggle financially, particularly in terms of debt, more than two-thirds of respondents still anticipate they will spend either as much as, or more, than today in the coming years.

One concern that was raised at ‘The Future of the UAE’ launch event was the risk of reverse brain-drain, where expatriates would leave the UAE to either go to another country or back home. While the debate about the dilution of faith, language and cultural values does exist, since the UAE has the largest proportion of foreign-born residents in the world (88%). Seven in ten Emiratis believe that the influx of foreigners has proved beneficial both to the country and themselves. Considering the recent downgrade, forecasted growth for 2016 still stands above 3% and unless things change dramatically they shouldn’t worry. Additionally, over two-thirds of respondents believe people will continue coming to, and finding work, in the UAE over the next five years.

Overall, this particular type of research provides a marker for the changes that have been witnessed and a guide for those to come, looking at both the societal and marketing implications they carry. ‘The Future of the UAE’ is an ongoing conversation and to find out more, visit the OMD UAE blog or follow @OMDMENA on Twitter for updates.

Future of Ireland

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2016 marks the centenary of the most important year on Ireland’s journey to independence so Autumn 2015 seemed like the right time to look towards the future.

As the 17th OMD market across the globe to launch a Future of project, our ambition was to launch a comprehensive overview of what the Irish consumer believes the future holds for them, personally and indeed for all of us collectively. What it wasn’t was a forecast – no GDP estimates, or technology projections – nor did we set out different scenarios for the future. Instead, our report was an attempt to capture and encourage the Irish conversation about the future: the one in our families, communities, workplaces and with our friends.

We listened to the hopes, dreams, fears and ambitions of over a thousand people in focus groups and a survey, looking for the words, themes and vocabulary that people use when talking about the future – both their own and our nation’s. We haven’t asked the experts or pundits for their opinion. We simply asked people from all over Ireland about the things that matter to them and to their loved ones.

As a small market, we wouldn’t have been able to deliver on this ambition without the support of Ulster Bank who, whilst not being a client, partnered with us to bring our vision to life as it fit perfectly with their ‘Help For What Matters’ strategy. This allowed us, amongst other things to engage a young photographer – David Gerulis – who captured the people, their visions and the place so brilliantly.

If there is one over-arching theme in the Future of Ireland study so far, it is that people want to take control of their future. Whether in terms of finances, skills or health; we seem to be entering an age in which people no longer rely on traditional authorities and leaders for guidance. It’s a theme that recurs repeatedly through many of the sub-themes in our study. These are as follows:

  • Hope, relating to the prospects for renewal as recovery gathers momentum
  • Belonging, about our sense of identity in a changing world
  • Family, on the changing nature but continuing importance of family and friendship in Ireland
  • Change, the growing awareness of the new forces shaping our economy and society
  • Happiness, looking at the things that matter most, and will matter most in making us happy
  • Destiny, a look ahead to new sources of influence, and declining sources, as we plan our own future

Ten years ago no one would have believed that 60% of those interviewed – including those over 60 – would think that marriage will become less relevant in the future or that 10% of the Irish population would think that, due to global warming, Ireland will become a commercial wine producer in the next 10 years!

So what is the future for The Future of Ireland? In April, following both a General Election and the centenary celebrations, we will embark on Phase 2. This will focus largely on the youth sector (16-24 year olds) – after all, they are the future and according to the existing study are likely to become increasingly influential. We also hope to look at food and what the future looks with health and well-being which is becoming increasingly important.

Watch this space, visit or follow @OMDFire on Twitter for updates.

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