LONDON — ITV may be the UK’s largest commercial free-to-air broadcaster, but that doesn’t mean the home of shows like Downton Abbey and Coronation Street is getting carried away with newfangled video ad tech.
In this video interview with Beet.TV, commercial content director Gary Knight cautions against getting “obsessed” by addressable TV advertising.
“There’s an element of personalisation that’s good for the ecosystem,” Knight says. “But the good old-fashioned mass targeting … is something we also want. That needs to exist alongside this obsession with big data. It needs to be a balanced ecosystem.”
Sixty-year-old ITV broadcasts over both terrestrial Freeview and satellite and cable pay-TV, and owns a growing production capability of its own.
Certainly, Knight – an ITV veteran who runs broadcast sponsorships and relations with advertisers and agencies for content partnerships – wants to capture first-party data about his viewers. But, without owning the underlying broadcast infrastructure, ITV has no way to know who its linear viewers really are.
That’s why ITV is starting online, recently renaming its ITV Player catch-up TV service as “ITV Hub“, claiming 12.5 million user registrations.
But Knight is so far frustrated with promises made by advertising technology.
“Every time you plug in a system that helps you with better advertising … you hit these technology roadblocks,” he says. “There are enormous costs of being able to achieve this nirvana. I’m not certain when it will ever get there.