Survey: Marketers increasing VoD, OTT, CTV ad budgets

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FreeWheel, a Comcast company and a provider of video advertising software, has revealed the findings of a survey of UK advertisers and agencies about marketing budgets and priorities for the next 12 months.

Commissioned by FreeWheel and conducted by independent research firm CoLab Media, the research aimed to uncover how the challenges created by last year’s disruption have impacted spending priorities for UK marketers and influenced their investments and expectations about the year ahead. The survey was also carried out in France, Germany, Spain and Italy.

Marketing budget optimism seems to return in the UK with a strong outlook for advanced TV

According to the research, 32 per cent of the UK marketers surveyed expect overall budgets to improve. The +4 per cent predicted net increment in budgets is a significant improvement on the -51 per cent recorded last year.

When it comes to spending on advanced TV advertising channels – VoD, Connected TV, OTT, data-driven linear and addressable TV – optimism seems to be reinforced across both advertisers and agencies, with 60 per cent of the surveyed UK marketers expecting their advanced TV investments to increase in the next 12 months.

VoD, CTV and OTT are expected to grow over the next 12 months by +5.2 per cent, +9.5 per cent and +6.2 per cent respectively, according to UK agency respondents. For UK advertisers surveyed, these expectations are +15.1 per cent for VoD, 8.8 per cent for CTV and +14 per cent for OTT.

Measurement is still a priority

The drivers of advanced TV ad spend remain linked to performance, with targeting capabilities ranked as the highest driver by 55 per cent of UK respondents and ad effectiveness proof a close second by 53 per cent.

While net marketing budget optimism provides a boost of confidence, for 42 per cent of the responding UK marketers the ability to measure ROI is a key factor to secure buy-in and unlock further budgets. However, while UK agencies surveyed see the need to access deterministic exposure data as a vital measurement priority (47 per cent), UK advertisers surveyed are more concerned with data integrations (41 per cent) and trusted third-party certification (37 per cent). Alongside ROI proof points, the ability to gather data to optimise campaign performance in-flight is also ranked highly important for 39 per cent of UK marketers that took part in the survey. A focus on measurement as a key factor in advanced TV spend was also prominent in last year’s FreeWheel and CoLab advanced TV survey.

Unanimity on upper funnel marketing objectives but divergence on brand health

The survey results show UK advertisers and agencies are more aligned on their priorities in comparison to FreeWheel’s and CoLab Advanced TV survey last year. Both UK marketer groups place significant importance on top-of-funnel marketing objectives, citing revenue growth (61 per cent) and customer acquisition (57 per cent) as the top priorities for 2021. However, while UK advertisers are more focused on driving brand building objectives, UK agencies show a more balanced approach, placing relative greater importance on bottom funnel objectives such as reducing churn (33 per cent), driving ROI (27 per cent) and meeting long-term objectives (27 per cent).

Consistent with the top-of-funnel marketing priorities, UK advertisers and agencies surveyed agree on the two pillars to drive campaign success: maximising reach (59 per cent) and creative (50 per cent). From the UK agency perspective, greater focus is placed on creative (60 per cent) and media channel selection (47 per cent), which traditionally fall under the core agency tasks. According to the survey, UK agencies rank linear TV reach extension (53 per cent) and ad effectiveness (50 per cent) as the main drivers of spend growth in Advanced TV, while UK advertisers place greater value on Advanced TV’s targeting capabilities across audiences (66 per cent) and platforms (56 per cent).

Virginie Dremeaux, Vice President of Marketing and Communications International of FreeWheel commented, “The research findings reinforce the continued positive trend toward advanced TV identified in FreeWheel and CoLab’s 2020 survey, with a third of TV ad budgets reportedly being assigned to advanced TV channels in 2021 compared to a fifth last year.

“A further reason for optimism is an increase from last year on alignment over upper funnel priorities between advertisers and agencies, although while advertisers show more of a concern with building brand health, agencies place greater importance on ROI. Critically, there’s increased recognition from both groups of Advanced TV’s potential to reach highly engaged audiences in premium video environments through effective ad campaigns. With greater education and experience, I’m confident advertisers and agencies can continue to achieve the return on investment they need from these channels,” added Dremeaux.


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