Freeview will launch its most “innovative and ambitious” advertising campaign to date this Saturday (1 October), with a series of real-time ads. The ‘short contextual films’ will provide commentary on whatever show the audience is watching, as Freeview makes use of its prior-access to scripts and storylines.
The real-time ads, which Freeview has worked on with Anomaly and hopes to launch 300 of by the end of the year, will comment on household favourites such as Coronation Street, as well as the benefits of the Freeview Play service.
Freeview’s marketing director Owen Jenkinson says the campaign is about mixing programmatic with above the line. “I don’t think anyone has ever done this before. We are trying to become the voice of television by commenting on moments in television. The campaign is like programmatic advertising but for TV”.
Winning back brand awareness
Jenkinson says most of Freeview’s equity has been in the switchover to digital TV a few years back, and admits since: “It is sad to say, but Freeview has not been so salient”.
He adds: “Freeview lost awareness among audiences, so with the new campaign we are trying to remind people of the platform and why it remains a compelling option and valued alternative to paid TV.”
The continuing growth of BT and Sky has also contributed to a loss of brand awareness for Freeview, according to Jenkinson. However, he insists the growth of streaming apps such as Netflix, Now TV and Amazon Prime is actually helping Freeview’s cause. Many people, he insists, are now creating their own bundles by mixing Freeview and Netflix, and then going elsewhere for their broadband.
He takes inspiration from the US, where there has already been a lot of “cord-cutting”, with many people opting away from paid-TV and instead going for free TV with Netflix or Amazon Prime on the side.
“We see the likes of Now TV, Amazon and Netflix as friends. They reflect the behaviour of consumers for the last 30 years. Only now, instead of going down to blockbusters you have them built into your TV,” adds Jenkinson.
In reality, he says that quad-play giants such as BT only have a small percentage of customers that take both TV and broadband packages. “It is definitely less than 20%,” he adds.
Jenkinson says Freeview’s daily viewing figures have “barely dropped” over the last seven to eight years. He says that linear TV is “holding up quite well” and is based in 19 million homes out of 26 million in the UK. In 9.5 million of these, meanwhile, Freeview is the main TV setbox.