Our Graduate Emma Fahy gives a Village summary of the ThinkBox event ‘TV in Focus’

A couple of weeks ago, some of the Village Team and I had the pleasure of heading down to the Ham Yard Hotel. Sufficiently fuelled by coffee and delicious pastries, we sat down to receive ThinkBox’s 'TV in Focus' update for 2022. The event marked one of the first in-person conferences since the beginning of the pandemic. ThinkBox CEO Lindsey Clay kicked things off, laying out an agenda that promised to cover the long and short-term trends currently affecting the world of TV. These included sector buoyancy, the future of AB deadlines, advanced TV targeting and the future of SVOD and AVOD.

To begin, Matt Hill, Director of Research and Planning at Thinkbox, took centre stage. Unsurprisingly, the impact of the pandemic was a hot topic. He revealed the sector made an excellent recovery in 2021, with a record breaking adspend of £5.46bn in 2021. The reasons cited for this were reduced competition from other media such as cinema, consumers spending more time with their TV sets and an increase in 'online-born' business and all culminated in the 24% year-on-year increase. ‘Online-born’ business actually accounted for 20% of TV spenders in 2021, referring to predominantly online brands such as the likes of Just Eat and Simply Cook.


Another pandemic-led topic was the future of AB deadlines. For context, at the beginning of the pandemic advanced-booking deadlines were reduced from 8 to 4 weeks. Shorter lead times made TV more accessible; as a result 341 brands that advertised between April and September 2020 were either new to the medium or returned after five years away. However, on the downside, it has raised questions of instability with the market becoming more difficult to predict. This pricing volatility has meant that agency planners have seen an increase in replanning.

Opportunities for targeting was another key issue up for debate. With TikTok, YouTube and SVOD dominating attention among those aged 16-34, their viewing of linear TV is becoming less frequent, ultimately driving up the cost. Hill recommended planners take advantage of content that drives high numbers of light viewers. Examples of such activity from last year included: the Friends Reunion, Great British Bake Off and the Euros.

Ian Whittaker, Founder of Liberty Sky Advisors, then took us through an overview of key market players and implications for the future of SVOD (subscription video on demand) and AVOD (ad-based video on demand). With so many subscription-model services now available, Whittaker argued it is increasingly difficult for major players to maintain momentum amongst competitors. He suggests AVOD likely holds the more attractive future out of the two models.

Finally, we moved on to the panel portion of the event with a Q&A session with industry leaders. Together with Matt Hill were Richard Kirk, Chief Strategy Officer at Zenith; Gareth George, Group Head of Media at RVU and Kate Waters, Director of Client Strategy & Planning at ITV. One question that caught my attention was how much of a priority 16-34s should be to brands when it is those over 34 who hold a majority of the country's wealth. This sparked a discussion into mental availability. As consumers tend to buy brands out of habit, it was argued there is value in targeting younger audiences, outside of your initial target group, to convert them when they are young and make them consumers for life. This is a consideration I will definitely take forward when thinking about targeting as I continue to learn more about client plans.

Afterwards, I caught up with our Head of Broadcast at Village, Chris Catton.

I agree with Matt Hill’s suggestion that there has never been a better time to work in AV. This ‘golden age’ means that intelligent AV planning and buying is now more vital than ever. The Thinkbox event highlighted the increased complexities and challenges that we face, but also the many exciting new opportunities that continue to evolve beyond linear spot to enable us to drive cost effective reach. Indeed, as if on cue, ITV announced their new streaming and AVOD service ITVX the day after this event.’

I want to thank ThinkBox for putting on such a great event. As someone still within their first year of the industry, I appreciated how accessible the information was to newbies without skimping on the detail. It was a great kick off to live events, facilitating insightful discussions with an overall positive view to the future.