Television industry advertising itself on television to advertising industry

Chief executives (left to right) Nine’s Hugh Marks, Ten’s Paul Anderson, ThinkTV’s Kim Portrate, Foxtel’s Peter Tonagh and Seven’s Tim Worner at the first ThinkTV conference. Photo: Louie Douvis ThinkTV chairman Russel Howcroft, from Network Ten, aims to remind marketers of the power of television. Photo: Dominic Lorrimer

In the latest sign of the struggle for revenue by Australia’s television industry, a new television advertisement promoting television will start airing on Thursday.

The ad comes from industry body ThinkTV, which unites commercial networks Seven, Nine, Ten and Foxtel with television ad-buying company Multi-Channel Network in trying to convince marketers to spend money on television rather than digital sites like Facebook and Google.

The advertisement itself is an Australian version of an ad produced by British television industry body ThinkBox and features an adult remembering quotes from the ads of his youth.

“For 30 seconds that can last a lifetime, think TV,” reads the tag line.

Chief executive of ThinkTV Kim Portrate said the advertisement was aimed at advertisers, marketers and consumers to remind them of the power of television. While marketing departments liked to experiment in new channels, they should not forget to allocate some of their budget to television, she added.

“TV is a critical part if you are trying to attract a mass audience,” Ms Portrate told BusinessDay.

She said they were comfortable adopting ThinkBox’s creative concept given ThinkTV was only 20 weeks old and could quickly copy the idea to make a big difference.

“The industry is choosing to use a medium that it believes in to promote itself,” she said, adding it would also use trade press and digital strategies. 

Britain-based ThinkBox is credited with increasing the advertising spending on British television by more than 7 per cent annually. It started 11 years ago, but it has taken until 2016 for Australia’s television industry to unite.  

ThinkTV hosted its first conference on Wednesday for hundreds of marketing employees. It released research earlier this week showing every dollar invested in television commercials for general consumables and groceries generated a $1.74 return. The study looked at brands produced by Unilever, Pfizer, Lindt, Kimberly-Clark, Goodman Fielder, Sanitarium and McCain.

In comparison, online video returned 72¢ for every dollar invested, online display 41¢, print 79¢, radio 71¢ and out-of-home 62¢, according to the study by Ebiquity.

Australia’s highly competitive television sector has finally started working together because it is facing dwindling profits, according to managing director of media analyst firm Fusion Strategy Steve Allen.

“They are not so much losing revenue; it is the fact that the market keeps growing and it is all going to digital,” Mr Allen told BusinessDay.

The Australian television industry has been “outmarketed” by digital companies, but the data used by digital companies was incorrect, he explained. ThinkTV will work because its evidence will prove television advertising generates better returns. But marketing departments are often full of young people who claim they no longer watch broadcast or subscription television.

“Any marketer with a brain should rethink their position … people who say they don’t watch TV – it’s complete and utter bullshit!”

The ThinkBox website notes Britain’s advertising industry is mostly London-centric, “abysmal” at estimating the general public’s viewing habits, and presumes the rest of the country spends as much time online as they do.

Its research found people working in advertising estimate “normal people” watch over an hour of YouTube, when really they watch 16 minutes a day. Similarly, the advertising industry overestimates how much time people spend streaming video or watching on multiple platforms. 

“The [advertising] industry’s TV viewing habits and opinions differ significantly from the rest of the UK. Media folk are notoriously bad at estimating what the British public do and feel, particularly when it comes to the newer formats such as broadcaster video-on-demand and subscription video-on-demand,” ThinkBox states..

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