ITV puts focus on brand and data as it looks to be ‘more than TV’

Over the next three years the broadcaster plans to pump £40m into marketing, advertising and its online platform ITV Hub in an effort to drive brand reappraisal and help underpin a “more stable viewing performance”.

ITV is making significant investments in the ITV brand and data analytics as it looks to be “more than TV” and build stronger direct-to-consumer relationships.

The UK’s largest commercial broadcaster says this will include repositioning the brand to ensure it appeals to a wider audience and engages ‘light’ viewers, which ITV believes could boost its viewing figures by up to 15 million.

In its half-year results released today (25 July), ITV – which is home to programmes including Love Island, X Factor and Dancing On Ice – says too many people see it as “cosy and traditional” and that it is not credited for the “amazing creativity and energy” it has.

“We need to ensure we appeal across platforms and demographics,” ITV says. “There are many people who only watch a limited amount of ITV content a week. They do not see us as a destination. Advertisers want reach as well as mass audiences and therefore it is important that we increase our engagement with these light viewers.”

Over the next three years ITV plans to pump £40m into marketing, advertising and its on-demand platform ITV Hub in an effort to drive brand reappraisal and help underpin a “more stable viewing performance”.

The broadcaster is also looking to bring all of its data together by creating a ‘Centre of Data Excellence’, which it hopes will help it build up and scale its direct-to-consumer business and increase its value to advertisers.

While ITV already has a technology platform it is developing, it says large amounts of data are sitting in many different parts of the business which is preventing it from gaining real insight and value.

“[A Centre of Data Excellence] will create a richer view of consumers and viewers and enable us to segment and slice the data to drive more value for advertisers with more targeted and addressable advertising and also through direct to consumer,” the company says.

On the Hub, ITV says data will enable it to increase personalisation of the content and experience – such as programme and onward journey recommendations – as well as enabling “more efficient re-engagement” of inactive users and giving marketing “laser focused targeting” to support the drive to increase light viewers.

On the direct-to-consumer side, data will play a key role with cross promotion and direct marketing. For example, if ITV knows somebody watches The Chase on the Hub, it will be able to recommend they play the game through the app or attend a live quiz event.

ITV is currently in the process of appointing a chief technology officer and chief data officer to head up this part of the business.

The strategy is part of new CEO Carolyn McCall’s efforts to “refresh” the business under a new vision dubbed ‘More than TV’. It aims to create a “structually sound integrated producer broadcaster” with a focus on strengthening its position as a producer broadcaster, growing UK and global production and creating a scaled direct-to-consumer business.

ITV saw total revenues in the six months to 30 June increase by 8% year on year to £1.59bn, with non-advertising revenues up 14%. Ad revenues increased by 2%, with a 48% rise in online advertising fuelling that growth.

McCall says: “There’s never been a better time to be a creative entertainment company with viewers’ appetite higher than ever for quality content and this is set to grow by around 5% globally over the medium term. ITV is well placed to take advantage of this opportunity and our strategy refresh which will enable us to drive profit from three separate sources – advertisers, broadcasters/platforms and consumers.

“ITV will be more than TV – it will be a structurally sound integrated producer broadcaster where we aim to maintain total viewing and increase total advertising revenue; it will be a growing and profitable content business, which drives returns; and it will create value by developing and nurturing strong direct consumer relationships, where people want to spend money on a range of content and experiences with a really trusted brand.”