ITV will be committing commercial suicide if it replaces programme promotions with increased advertising minutage in order to reduce television airtime inflation, advertisers have been told.
Martin Bowley, managing director of Carlton UK Sales, told a media inflation conference last week that peak-time ITV was already saturated with commercial minutage and an extra 30 seconds would mean four-minute ad breaks.
“I’m not sure about viewers going for a pee during a break,” he told advertisers and agency chiefs. “They could go for a curry. We would lose viewers in their droves.”
Bowley also told the conference that removing programme promotions from peak periods to make way for ads would be like stopping Cadbury advertising its Creme Eggs in March. “Programme promotions are our TV campaigns,” he said.
Carlton’s research has shown that viewers are three times more likely to watch a programme after they have seen four promotions for it and that promotions brought in a disproportionate number of light viewers.
A number of agencies are now estimating that reduced ratings on ITV has cost advertisers between 35m and 40m so far this year.
Andy Troullides, managing director of MediaCom, told the conference that the station average price trading system on ITV should be replaced to allow advertisers to know how much their TV campaigns would cost them in advance.
“Instead of agreeing to buy now against an estimate, you should be able to negotiate on pre-set spot prices or ratings delivery,” said Troullides. “We need a trading currency that will encourage channels to invest in their future programming.”