The launch of FreeviewPlus was an important step for the Australian advertising market. Not only because it delivers the ability for internet-connected viewers to ‘catch up’ on their big screen, but also due to the promise of customised and data driven opportunities that it could provide brands to connect with their audiences.
However, while FreeviewPlus holds a great deal of promise, there are a number of things needed for it to deliver on this potential for advertisers.
Firstly the experience for viewers needs to be exceptional. With so many options at their fingertips – streaming, subscription television and downloads amongst them – viewers need to be truly impressed by FreeviewPlus and for it to deliver new and exciting content that they can’t access elsewhere. From what I’ve seen, it ticks the boxes in terms of giving viewers easy access to catch up on shows they’ve missed, and may even help FTA draw some viewers back from downloading.
The key difference between existing catch up services and FreeviewPlus is that it can be viewed on all televisions, be they internet connected already or through the installation of the FreeviewPlus box. It gives viewers an alternative to watching catch up on their iPad or laptop, giving them a more user-friendly viewing mechanism.
For advertisers, across the board everything is becoming more targeted. We have more data and know more about our audiences than ever before. For the industry as a whole, it remains a challenge to ensure we use this data as effectively as possible, and this certainly applies to FreeviewPlus.
If it lives up to what it promises, viewers will be delivered ads that are specifically relevant to them. Their gender, demographic, interests, suburb they live in, recent purchases and of course, viewing habits can all be used to programmatically deliver TV ads. This connection between digital media and television has the potential to be a true game changer for the medium, if leveraged correctly.
Finally, we need to see solid penetration of FreeviewPlus. The benefit of being able to tailor messages for a specific audience still needs to be balanced with the ability to reach a significant number of people.
Freeview is aiming for 10% penetration by the end of its first year, which if achieved would be a fantastic start. The initiatives in place by Freeview to achieve this, such as demo videos played in stores to demonstrate the technology to consumers and the extensive marketing campaign occurring across all free channels, will no doubt help. All stakeholders, including advertisers and media agencies, will be hoping to see strong adoption of FreeviewPlus over the next few years.
Free-to-air television faces strong competition from digital and subscription viewing platforms, with 1.6 million Australians downloading TV programs in the past four weeks alone. But the networks should be applauded for taking this step to evolve and remain relevant. When it comes to attracting eyeballs, all eyes in the industry will be firmly fixed on FreeviewPlus in the near future to see whether it delivers.