A positive outlook for advertising in the new world

Virginie Dremeaux Executive Director, Product and Sales Marketing International

After a period of uncertainty the advertising industry is now entering a new and exciting phase where change is inevitable and far from unwelcome.

To assess expectations and gain a deeper understanding of buy-side perceptions around advertising in the new world, FreeWheel conducted a survey among media agencies, DSPs and direct advertisers in the UK, France and Germany. The findings indicate overwhelming positivity and confidence, especially around data-driven advertising within the advanced TV ecosystem.

Here are just a few of the survey’s findings.

Strong cross-sector buoyancy

When considering which industries are the most likely to resume media investment in the coming months, high levels of confidence are seen across all sectors. This is particularly evident in the food industry – arguably least impacted by recent events – with 84% of survey participants expecting a resumption of ad spend by brands. This trend is even more pronounced in the UK with 100% of respondents predicting a rapid return to media investment for the food industry. Consumer goods companies such as Unilever are preparing to increase marketing investment, and fast-food chain McDonalds has announced it will boost ad spend by $200 million during the second half of the year.

A high level of confidence can also be seen in the high tech and communication sectors, which are benefiting from the shift to remote working. Around two-thirds (65%) of respondents anticipate a media bounce-back in these industries. Almost 60% expect the same for the automotive industry and financial services companies, while more than half (53%) predict advertising investment will resume for beauty.

Travel is inevitably the most uncertain and unpredictable sector due to the continually shifting global situation, but even there almost half (49%) of respondents expect the industry to resume media investment over the coming months. Confidence is even higher in Germany with 57% of participants feeling the travel sector is likely to recommence media activity. This view is supported by Nielsen data, which reveals travel ad spending is gradually increasing week by week across Europe.

Surging interest in advanced TV

When asked which mediums advertisers will invest in the most over the coming months, TV broadcasting and over-the-top (OTT) channels stand out as the most promising. The majority (54%) of respondents cite these premium channels as most likely to receive advertiser investment, and the trend is particularly marked in the UK where 68% share this opinion. With the use of on-demand video streaming services escalating in recent months, it is clear advertisers are keen to reach large but targeted audiences in these high quality and engaging environments.

Overall, 40% of buy-side respondents plan to allocate more than 10% of their 2020 video ad budget to advanced TV, which includes set-top-box video-on-demand (STB VOD), OTT, IPTV and addressable TV. In the UK this figure is higher still at 55%.

Data driving industry change

In the coming months the buy-side’s investment strategies will increasingly rely on data, with almost a third (31%) of respondents saying the use of data targeting will be more important in their campaigns than it was before. With budgets likely to remain tight throughout the recovery phase, advertisers will be focused on minimising waste and making sure every impression reaches its intended audience. An even stronger trend for Germany:

Looking ahead to 2021, buyers expect considerable change and are looking to try alternative tactics. For the German market the focus is on fresh opportunities, with 61% hoping to explore new channels and 57% seeking new ways to use data. In the UK the priority is achieving more with ad budgets, with 74% planning to look for additional opportunities for advertising efficiency. Almost two-fifths (38%) of respondents across the three countries are planning to change their approach to targeting while a quarter (24%) will look for ways to automate advertising.

The confidence expressed in this research should provide reassurance across the advertising industry as it enters the next phase. In the new world advertising will increasingly be data driven, across all sectors, and channels such as advanced TV will allow brands to spend their budgets wisely, reaching target audiences in high quality, engaging environments.

Methodology: The survey was carried out by FreeWheel in the UK, Germany and France between 10 June 2020 and 22 June 2020. It was completed by 68 senior respondents from the big five agencies (WPP, Havas, Dentsu, IPG and Omnicom) as well as independent agencies or trading desks, demand-side platforms, and direct advertisers.