BBC, Aviva and Virgin Atlantic on swapping TV for social content

In their pursuit of a disruptive digital strategy, brands advocate shifting spend from high impact TV advertising to a personalised, content-led approach.

In a bid to drive engagement, conversion and retention, brands are swapping the brand awareness of ‘traditional’ TV-heavy advertising for a content-driven social approach that facilitates a two-way dialogue with customers.

Aviva, for example, has reduced its TV ad spend in favour of content that reflects real communities. Speaking at the Creativebrief Modern Marketing Leadership event in London today (14 September), brand communications and marketing director Pete Markey described how the insurer is seeking to “take the walls off the brand” and make it more accessible.

“With the last Paul Whitehouse campaign, 99% of the media was TV, 1% was ‘other stuff’, whereas the campaign we are going to launch next month is only 50% traditional broadcast, 50% ‘other [stuff]’, particularly content,” explained Markey.

“A lot more is happening in terms of amplifying the brand using social content outside the campaigns. We’re doing a lot more that’s disruptive and edgy, and pushing us in another direction that means more of a two-way conversation with customers.”

Adopting an always-on approach

Airline Virgin Atlantic has weaned itself off ‘traditional’ TV advertising as it seeks to adopt an always-on, content-led positioning, explained senior vice-president of marketing and customer experience, Reuben Arnold.

“We were very advertising-led and very brand centric. We always talked about ourselves, not about the role for the customer.

“TV still does work very well for us and we have had to accept that we have taken a bit of a dip in terms of awareness [moving away from TV advertising], but in terms of salience and conversion we’ve seen an [improvement]. It’s a more successful trade off that has created better conversion.”

British Gas is shifting away from a TV focus to a more dynamic, personalised strategy

Change is on the horizon at British Gas, as the utilities company transitions into what director of brand marketing Margaret Jobling describes as one of its biggest periods of transformation.

“The journey we’re going on is from a product, profit-and-loss-led organisation that was very siloed, to a customer-led organisation with brand at the heart.

“We are moving to a more dynamic, personalised marketing plan versus ‘it’s all about TV and he who shouts the loudest wins’. Those days have gone. Just because you spend more and have a higher share of voice doesn’t mean you’re the most effective. It’s about engaging content and personalisation.”

The BBC is experiencing a big shift in attitude as it adapts content for digital audiences who consume its programmes on sites such as Netflix and Amazon. BBC Worldwide chief marketing officer Jackie Lee-Joe argues that it is no longer good enough to simply put a TV on-air promotion online.

“So we’re thinking about how we adapt content for those communities, whether that’s Snapchat, Facebook Live, Oculus and VR. Pulling through that extension into digital is something we’re looking at,” she adds.

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