ITV is currently undergoing one of its biggest transformations to date as part of efforts to reposition the broadcaster as less “cosy” and more culturally relevant, and to create a more stable viewing performance.
It is a “new era for marketing” too and ITV has been building in a number of capabilities to help it get 15 million ‘light’ viewers to watch ITV more often.
This has included a complete “revamp and reboot” of its brand tracking, with ITV currently “laddering up” to be able to create one figure around an entirely new metric: spontaneous brand consideration.
“In terms of repositioning ITV, particularly among light viewers, whether they would spontaneously consider you as a brand when they watch TV feels like a really simple metric about whether you are changing people’s attitudes about you and your brand,” ITV’s chief marketing officer Rufus Radcliffe tells Marketing Week.
“What’s important is we come up with a figure the organisation understands that doesn’t fluctuate wildly from one minute to the next because if that is the case it’s not a robust metric that you’re looking at. But it is a figure that is at the heart of what we’re trying to do at ITV.”
The danger that marketers have is the zigging and zagging and making immediate judgments about what’s working and what’s not.
Rufus Radcliffe, ITV
ITV is working with YouGov and Ipsos to create a more sophisticated brand tracking methodology, with this particular metric built on numerous questions which are all indexed, weighted and loaded up to determine a final spontaneous consideration measure.
While ITV is not reporting the new metric yet, Radcliffe says the trajectory among audiences “has gone up really quite significantly”.
ITV is in the midst of creating an econometric model to measure media effectiveness as well, but Radcliffe says it is still early days.
“The thing about econometrics is that it’s all built on historical data and you also need a reasonable period of time where you’re evaluating success. That is a piece of ongoing work at the moment which will end up being an ongoing tool we use to measure media effectiveness,” he explains.
“The significant thing is in Q1 this year we’re spending more on marketing off-air to try and attract light viewers back. So you need to look at the long-term trends to see what’s working and what’s not rather than look at it on a very short term basis.”
It has also built its own panel of heavy, medium and light viewers, called the ITV Village, where it tests marketing campaigns before they launch and tracks them afterwards.
Building out from within
As part of its strategic focus to build its direct-to-consumer business, ITV has created two new roles in its marketing department.
While the broadcaster already has a viewer marketing role to get people to spend time with ITV for free, it has now hired a consumer marketer in an effort to get people to have a “deeper transactional relationship”.
It has also hired a director of media to bring together all of its digital media capabilities – including short form, CRM and on-air media planning. Both new hires will be announced in June.
“There are two roles we need to do as a marketing function: We need to get people to watch our stuff and to spend time with us. In a very competitive market place, you cannot be complacent, you have to work harder to get people to land on your channels, programmes and on-demand services,” Radcliffe says.
“What we then want to do is convert those viewing moments into transactional relationships moving forward. If you get people to spend time with ITV then you can offer them a more personalised service on the ITV Hub, offer them an upgrade to subscribe to ITV Hub Plus, you can get them in the future to become subscribers to BritBox.
“But we are only going to do that if you’ve got them landing in your real estate in the first place.”
January marked the start of ITV’s ‘More Than TV’ brand advertising activity. From drama to news, a series of short films have been created to showcase the emotional power of TV content and highlight the role ITV plays in shaping culture.
The ads, which have also been running on Channel 4 and Sky, are the first pieces of creative work done with new agency Uncommon, which was brought on board last year after a “very short discreet pitch process” as part of ITV’s strategy review.
“So far, so good,” Radcliffe says. “As part of the development of the marketing function to being about viewers and consumers, we will obviously be constantly looking at where the capabilities gaps are and if there is any other support we need. But at the moment things seem to be working very well.”
Of the current brand campaign, Radcliffe says the response so far has been “unequivocally positive”. However, ITV knows not to rely on social media as an “immediate barometer” and that changing viewer attitudes will not be easy work.
“Making sense of More Than TV to viewers, any repositioning or reappraisal of brands, takes time,” Radcliffe says.
“The danger that marketers have is the zigging and zagging and making immediate judgments about what’s working and what’s not. We know that this brand idea for More Than TV, when we talk to our viewers and research it, they really understand it and agree with it. But we know it will take a while to really capture people’s imaginations.”
The next iteration of More Than TV will launch in the autumn, which is when ITV will also reveal its “new big cause” in terms of social purpose.