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3 min read

Channel 4 Takes On Digital Advertising Giants

This article was updated on: 07.02.2022

Channel 4 has announced it is joining an alliance of Europe’s biggest broadcasters, the European Broadcaster Exchange, to create a pan-European advertising network able to compete with Google and Facebook’s digital marketing domination.

Formed of Germany’s ProSiebenSat1, France’s TF1 and Italy and Spain’s Mediaset, the network hopes to launch in early 2018 and claims to have access to 160m viewers per month.

Advertisers will be able to run campaigns across all of the EBX’s available channels as well as their online video-on-demand (VOD) services. The move is a direct response to combat the so-called duopoly which Google & Facebook have over online advertising, provoked by fears that the vast size of their online video services could stunt the growth of on-demand services and of a decreasing spend on traditional TV advertising. The broadcasters are emphasising the reliability of this service in the wake of Google’s ad placement blunder earlier this year, with Jonathan Lewis, head of digital and partnership at Channel 4, affirming “the demand for multi-territory digital ad campaigns in brand safe and transparent environments is increasing”.

The EBX’s initial focus will be on programmatic video campaigns using automated and data-based management of digital marketing sales. Commenting on the announcement, Josh Krichefski, CEO at MediaCom UK, said Channel 4’s decision to run commercials across their video-on-demand services is a direct pushback to Facebook and Google’s duopoly of digital advertising. “Both companies – which must now be seen as media organisations as much as they are tech organisations – already eat up 90% of every new £1 spent on digital advertising, and Channel 4’s online video growth has opened up new possibilities to challenge the big-hitters. This growth is reflective of a trend towards VoD services, not least among young people, where our research showed teens are watching TV on demand most often – more so than live TV.”

In an additional announcement it was revealed at Channel 4’s 2018 Upfronts event that the network will have first party data on all All 4 viewers early next year as mandatory registration is introduced to use the service, increasing the broadcaster’s personalisation and targeting capabilities using information such as age, gender, location, interests and behaviour. This is a considerable development when accounting for All 4’s 16 million viewer database which includes almost two thirds of UK 16-34 year olds, and marks one of the first real steps traditional broadcasters have taken to adapt to today’s digital marketing landscape.

David Barker, Managing Director of marketing tech company Amobee, praised Channel 4’s decision and said “Programmatic will propel TV to become a very interesting advertising medium for marketers. This is an area the digital industry should continue to keep a close eye on in 2018. Impression’s resident programmatic specialist, Lauren Capon, adds, “It was only a matter of time before programmatic buying began to creep into the TV market. Until now the two strategies have mostly overlapped each other, but Channel 4’s recent decision paves the way for programmatic and TV to become increasingly integrated.”

It’s certainly clear that if TV is to keep up with the capabilities of increasingly targeted online advertising then broadcasters worldwide will have to follow in Channel 4’s footsteps to ensure they don’t get left behind.