Breakthrough innovation, or just another gimmick? Channel 4 launches Dynamic TV

by George Mackean, Senior AV Executive

‘Breakthrough innovation, or just another gimmick? Channel 4 launches Dynamic TV’

Channel 4 has announced the launch of Dynamic TV, a new VoD product that leverages first-party data to enable thousands of creative variations to be served across both big and small-screen platforms for the first time. Advertisers will be able “to deliver bespoke ads based on location, weather, time of day, date and demographics”, and will also have the ability to serve sequential ads across platforms. Boots and Suzuki will be the guinea pigs, both harnessing location data in campaigns that will show viewers tailored creative directing them to their nearest store or dealership.

Dynamic TV reflects a post-GDPR world where audience targeting is limited, so utilising context to deliver personalised messaging is a potential game changer. It also brings dynamically tailored creative to the big screen for the first time, which provides the best environment for co-viewing and second-screening – both of which can be put forward as drivers of video advertising effectiveness.

But is it really that innovative? Well, nothing about Dynamic TV is completely new, it’s just new to big-screen broadcaster VoD. For brands that simply see BVoD as way of extending the reach of TV campaigns, this is bells and whistles – attractive but superfluous. For pure direct-response advertisers, the cost premium that will undoubtedly come with a Dynamic TV campaign will be difficult to justify, and for the brand-performance advertisers that do see a world of possibilities with Dynamic TV, there will always be the impossibility of accurately isolating its effect.

Channel 4’s last big ‘innovation’ was Contextual Moments, a linear TV product that uses AI to automatically book contextual ad-placements, and it’s fair to say it hasn’t set the world alight. One of the initial test campaigns was for McCafe, and spots were placed around scenes in which the AI identified someone drinking a hot drink. For a brand as strong as McDonald’s, how could a handful of spots possibly have a measurable impact on awareness or sales? There are parallels with the Dynamic TV test campaigns – according to Thinkbox 97% of BVoD viewing is in the home, so unless you’ve totally given up on personal hygiene it’s likely you don’t need to be reminded where your nearest Boots is.

The Verdict?
This is not to say that Dynamic TV is a waste of everybody’s time. It won’t be a struggle to think of some creative implementations for it – for example it’s easy to see how showing a puffer jacket during the next Beast From the East might make the ad experience more relevant for a fashion brand – and I’ve no doubt that marketers will be rubbing their hands at the prospect of using Dynamic TV to produce award-winning campaigns.
But it does seem that for many advertisers, tailoring creative in an environment where customer response can’t necessarily be tracked will always be a hard-sell. Whilst products like these are supposed to amplify the effect of TV, they could end up distracting from its main purpose.