Could ‘Self-Serve TV Ads’ Work In The UK?
This morning I read a discussion on Linked In which irked me by its very stupidity. There, I’ve set the tone now – I’m in a defensive mood, so apologies if from here on if I seem a creative snob or a little biased.
Central to the discussion were IPTV platforms, that is the delivery of video via an internet connection to a device in the home – most usually in the form of a box plugged into a TV. In the UK the best known IPTV providers are BT Vision, Sky Player, Apple TV, LoveFilm.com, and TalkTalkTV amongst several others. The broadcasters’ own catch-up services (such as BBC iPlayer, 4OD) also function on IPTV protocols. To place an ad on such channels in the UK it would be conventional to get an agency working on the advertising strategy and creative treatments. The agency would appoint a production company to produce the commercials, and would also deal with a media buyer to hammer out the best deals for the airtime/ad insertion across the most suitable channels. Get all these folks lined up and gunning for the success of the same campaign and television advertising (or VOD placement) will more often than not deliver excellent results.
So, getting back to the discussion I read this morning; it concerned a platform in the USA which markets itself as providing ‘self-service television advertising’. There exists a website where advertisers can assemble a ‘TV commercial’ from an online template of clipart, royalty free music, and their own supplied photographs and video clips (I intentionally used ‘TV commercial’ in quotations as I don’t feel it is a particularly apt name considering the quality of that which gets created). They can set some basic parameters as to placement of their new creation by geographical area and surrounding content; ‘News’ ‘Religious’ ‘Entertainment’. They then pay just $17 per thousand impressions. A potential advertiser can just go online, assemble an ad, punch in their card details and as stated on the FAQs page of the site, ‘create a campaign in just minutes’.
So, what’s my issue?
Basically – I’m certain that the majority of these inexperienced advertisers will see little or no return on the money they put into a scattergun ‘campaign’ thrown together ‘in just minutes’. Most door-drop leafleting has more thought and effort put into it! From my experience a campaign in the truest sense is an arsenal of advertising and marketing approaches carefully assembled with a planned medium-term strategy in mind. Thankfully, generally speaking the UK hasn’t followed the USA’s lead when it comes to such small-fry advertising; besides – I think British consumers are more savvy when it comes to broadcast advertising because our advertising market is so much more regulated and vetted. A self-made commercial would stick out like a sore thumb, if it even made it to air.
Whilst cable TV in the USA has been rife with local affiliate channels for decades, such a model was a non-starter in the UK. ITV keeps the threshold for the quality of regional advertising intentionally high to avoid devaluing its own output, and to a point the credibility of other advertisers in a break – thus viewers have come to expect a consistently high quality of output, both of the programming and the advertising. This said, with independent ‘Local TV’ gaining momentum there will soon be more routes for smaller advertisers to broadcast their message relatively cost-effectively. Sure, accessibility can only be a good development – but in order to bring in revenue will these local channels lower their standards and open the door to self-serve, or to put it more accurately ‘advertiser produced’ commercials? More importantly, will such home-brew ads provide any bang for the buck, or might they even damage or devalue television advertising overall?