Channel 4 aims for a quarter of its VOD ads to use demographic targeting in 2014

Channel 4 is aiming for a quarter of its video on demand (VOD) ads to use its recently launched demographic targeting tool in 2014, an ambition statement that comes as it prepares to make its 4oD catch-up service more personalised to users’ viewing habits.

Channel 4

The broadcaster first trialled its 4oD demographic targeting initiative in May in a trial with seven advertisers. The segmentation tool allows advertisers to buy the same audiences they do on TV on 4oD, blending their own databases with Channel 4’s registered user base. It is priced at a slight premium compared with traditional VOD. 

Last month Channel 4 released research, conducted by comScore and MTM London, that found demographic targeting delivered on average double the uplift for top of mind brand awareness compared with a standard 4oD campaign. Click through rates achieved for demographic targeting more than doubled (109 per cent) when compared to a standard 4oD campaign and even tripled for Nokia when it refined its audience targeting.

Jonathan Lewis, Channel 4’s head of digital and partnership innovation, told Marketing Week: “We are trying to change round the oil tank in a way, traditionally you just buy genre on VOD but it makes sense to buy the same audience you do on TV. Every agency gets it. There’s real buy in and the results from the research speak for themselves.  Our ambition is to get a quarter of our [4oD] business on demographic targeting by next year.”

From the first quarter next year, Channel 4 will offer a more personalised user experience on 4oD, tailoring content around viewing behaviour. Lewis said the broadcaster is also exploring how it can tailor ad delivery so someone who visits regularly receives a different ad load to someone who only uses the service once a month.

Behavioural ad targeting is unlikely to follow in 2014, Lewis said, but added Channel 4 will begin to offer interest-based targeting based on details users provide at registration in the coming months.

Elsewhere, Channel 4 will be “kicking off AFP to advertisers” on its new short form content service 4Shorts, which is housed on the 4oD platform. While Lewis would not reveal which advertisers have already signed up to fund programming on the service, he said “a couple” of deals have been signed and that the broadcaster is also in talks to port Jamie Oliver’s “Food Tube” YouTube channel over to 4oD.

Channel 4 is also exploring how to raise the profiles of over YouTube stars via 4Shorts, through the help of independent production companies or advertisers. He envisages Channel 4 will sign “half a dozen” AFP deals on 4Shorts per year.

Lewis said brands from “across the board” have shown interest in returning to AFP, both online and on TV. He added: “The sponsorship market is really buoyant at the moment. We’re seeing sectors come back like banks, utilities and cars. I think it tells a story about the state of the economy.”

On the traditional broadcast side, a key AFP focus for the new year will be within music programming – a job new recruit Simon Wells, who joins Channel 4 Sales this week as partnership controller of funded content and creative solutions, will be set to.

Lewis said: “We’ve had lots of music in the past but we are looking to deliver a more coherent strategy in the schedule, funded by advertising. Music is an area in the schedule we know we have a heartland in because of our youth audience, but it can be expensive and doesn’t always achieve overly massive ratings so in the past music is often one of the first things that gets taken off the table. We want to try to get a balance of performance and weave in the right mix of entertainment.”

Channel 4 generated £844m in advertising and sponsorship revenue in 2012, slightly down from the £845m reported in 2011 as it was impacted by major events such as the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and The Olympics being broadcast on other channels and a weaker ad market compared with previous years. Channel 4’s 2013 annual report is due in May 2014.

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