Is 2021 the year of Advanced TV, or has it always been advanced?

Advanced TV is set to be one of media’s buzz terms for 2021, but how is TV evolving to maintain relevance in the Digital Media age?


Broadcasters have long been wary of the threat posed by Digital media platforms, and investment patterns indicate they have already lost the battle for the majority share of advertiser spends. Broadcaster TV endures as a medium however thanks in no small part due to its proven ROI, and now more than ever it is evolving at a faster rate in order to maintain its relevance in the Digital age.

Advanced TV is a term that will be commonplace in the 2021 media world, but is the evolution on the horizon really such a step change compared to the previous decade?

Simply put, Advanced TV combines the best of what both Linear TV and Digital have to offer. Investment in new technology by the broadcasters means they are able to marry up data driven, dynamic, one-to-one ad delivery in a high quality, brand safe, mass scale, viewable arena.

But how new is this really? Broadcaster VOD (BVOD) platforms have a combined weekly reach of over 17m in the UK and have been able to serve data enhanced campaigns for years, going beyond standard age and gender brackets with laser focus on details such as postcode now available. The same (and more) is true of AdSmart. First launched in the UK in 2014, AdSmart enables advertisers to dynamically insert tailored, targeted messages into Linear TV feeds enriched by Sky’s own database as well as reputable third party suppliers such as Experian and retailers such as GAME.

So if Advanced TV solutions have been available for the best part of a decade, why is 2021 the year it will receive arguably the most attention? Growth, collaboration and measurement go a long way to explaining this.


Like most media channels in 2020, BVOD experienced significant growth in audience. Most significant was the fact the growth was distributed across devices. Time spent viewing on mobile devices has remained static for the past 5 years, however the dominant way in which BVOD is now consumed is in the high quality environment of the TV set. Even going back to 2019 pre-pandemic, the TV set accounted for 72% of all BVOD viewing – only Linear TV (99%) and SVOD (74%) could boast stronger figures. This is critical to the point of combining the best of TV and Digital for advertisers as it ensures 100% viewability for a Digital format, circumventing ad blockers and delivering a message to an audience that is more likely to be in a mindset receptive to advertising (or at the very least without fingers primed on the “Skip Ad” button”).


Sky’s AdSmart solution is currently available in 40% of all homes, and covers Sky owned and partner channels only. However Channel 4 have signed up to using AdSmart and are currently in the process of developing their technology to include their channels in the offering. This will grow the appeal of AdSmart to advertisers enormously, and will serve as a pathway for conversations to be renewed between Sky and ITV. Expanding the inventory available to advertisers should also have a deflationary impact on pricing which has at times proved prohibitive to some, despite the improved targeting on offer.


BARB measurement was for a long time considered the gold standard in audience measurement across all media channels. Digital accountability has changed that, although it is still contested that BARB’s constantly evolving solution is a robust competitor to IP and user based reporting offered in the Digital space. Once again however Sky have taken the lead for the industry in creating a cross-platform measurement technique in C-flight, unifying delivery metrics across both Linear and BVOD campaigns using their 500,000+ panel of respondents. But how pioneering is this truly? At Generation Media we launched our cross-platform audience modeller, Jigsaw, in 2020, to help clients solve the puzzle of what their diversified advertising investment was delivering.

With the improvement in data capture by the broadcaster market, comes improvements in planning capabilities. BARB for example released their BVOD planner in 2020, enabling agencies advertisers to plan optimised splits between Linear and BVOD for their target demos. This however does not cater effectively for children’s audiences, especially as a large proportion of their Advanced TV viewing takes place outside of the BVOD environment. This is why we launched The Media Aggregator (TMA) in 2016 to help advertisers understand the most effective way to split their budget not only across Linear and VOD, but also the multifaceted media landscape which all audiences now inhabit.  In keeping with the theme of evolution, this year we will be launching an interactive dashboard version of TMA, and upgrading the data it ingests to not only reflect the current media habits of your target audience, but also predict their next move to future proof your media strategy.


To learn more about how you should be evolving your AV strategies to stay ahead of the rate of change, contact us today for a full consultation.