TV advertising has always been the preferred media for big brands thanks to the sheer reach and audience penetration it has offered. However, times have changed and as we know, the influence held for so long by these traditional channels is starting to wane. As audiences continue to watch less ad-supported TV, brands need to consider alternative solutions to connect with their target audiences.

Why is it then that just two percent of today’s ad spend is allocated on non-ad supported platforms, despite roughly 25 percent of viewers’ eyeballs being directed towards these platforms?

It’s not just a case of viewers – particularly millennials – migrating elsewhere. It’s also easier than ever for viewers to skip ads, pausing live TV and then fast-forwarding, or by recording shows to their satellite or cable box. Besides, when you think about it, advertisers never really cracked the issue of viewers leaving the room to make a cup of tea during an ad break.

It’s high time some of these brands went back to the drawing board regarding TV media spend, so here are five ways brands can step beyond traditional TV advertising in 2017.

Product integration can take you further with traditional TV

Product integration has been a mainstay of US programming for decades, but in Europe restrictions remained in place until just a few years ago, in part due to its terrible reputation. There’s no doubt some conventional product integration has been poorly executed, but today it’s possible to create brand integrations that enhance the feeling of real-world context and sense of character development. Producers don’t want their characters eating generic food products or using generic mobile devices because it destroys the realism. Brands need to look at implementing non-intrusive and authentic integrations that are additive to TV content, rather than destructive.

OTT platforms need brands to grow

Original content – much of it produced at premium budgets – is fundamental to the continued success of the major OTT platforms, and with this comes an increased demand for product integrations. In 2016 global brands active in this space included Microsoft, Heineken, GM, Hyundai, Audi, Bose, Apple and Mondelez. We saw many revolutionary integrations, for example Netflix’s original series, “Stranger Things”, whose main character, Eleven, obsesses over her Eggo waffles, creating a pop culture frenzy.

Bear in mind that OTT programming isn’t aligned with conventional network calendars, so it’s vital that brands can connect with these platforms to get the inside track on their schedules.

Influencer marketing helps brands engage audiences in new ways

Most brands are aware of the potential opportunity presented by social media influencer marketing, but many remain hesitant due to the fear of losing control. The human elements to influencer marketing are pivotal to achieving success. Influencers are, after all, people, not production companies. For brands, having the right relationships is critical to influencer marketing success – identifying the right social influencers for the brand, then stepping back and empowering them to lead on the direction of content created. It can feel scary, but brands need to trust in the unique personal connection between influencer and audience.

Film entertainment continues to provide a captive audience

Product integration in movies has been around for quite some time – remember Reese’s Pieces in “E.T.”? Today, modern-day integration has come to the forefront in film entertainment a big way. But true integration requires long-term planning, so brands need the inside track on writing, scheduling and production plans to ensure blended storytelling, and this also means taking a long-view on brand plans – will the integration still be relevant when the film hits the screens? This type of investment requires an understanding of content trends, for example, the resurgence of musicals in TV shows – such as “Glee” and “Smash” – has already shifted to film with “La La Land” surpassing expectations this awards season, and “Beauty and the Beast” and “Mary Poppins Returns” to follow.

Integration wins out, so don’t stick all your eggs in one basket

Stepping beyond traditional TV advertising isn’t about cancelling your entire media budget and channelling 100 percent of it into influencer marketing or a handful of major Hollywood movie integrations. It’s about taking a balanced, strategic approach and building a 360-integration campaign that is carefully targeted and that can be precisely measured, allowing your brand to become seamlessly integrated into your audience’s key content consumption moments wherever they occur.

Greg Isaacs

Greg Isaacs


Greg Isaacs, Executive Vice President, Product & Marketing at Branded Entertainment Network (BEN), a Bill Gates company.