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Altman Solon's

European Perspectives on Total TV Advertising

Investment Decisions to Scale Sustainable Ad Spend

In 2023, Altman Solon analyzed the Total TV (linear and streaming) advertising ecosystem in several of Europe’s largest markets, including the United Kingdom, Germany, and France. Through surveys and in-depth interviews with senior leadership at traditional broadcasters, Pay TV, streaming platforms, ad agencies, and marketers, we gained insights into investment trends and emerging revenue-generating opportunities for ad products, ad tech, and new inventory sources.

Our findings on the European TV market reveal an ecosystem that is adapting to limited measurement and attribution capabilities across fragmented audiences and data silos. There is a focus on growing ad revenue through distributor and agency-led solutions that maximize campaign planning efficiencies, empower buyers, and prioritize innovative approaches to prove ROI. Meanwhile, European ad buyers plan to increase spending on digital TV channels yet remain ambivalent towards non-traditional ad formats (e.g. Shoppable TV, shorter interactive formats, etc.).(e.g., Shoppable TV, shorter interactive formats, etc.).

Distributors: Traditional Broadcasters, Pay TV, Streaming Platforms

European distributors are activating new advertisers and optimizing costs through investments in enhanced addressability, attribution solutions, and self-service efficiencies

While TV ratings and audience impressions remain the gold standard for European ad distributors in measuring campaign performance, conversions and sales-related attribution are growing as preferred campaign metrics. To address the continued siloing of audience data, 69% of European distributors consider cross-platform measurement tools to be a high-priority planned product investment to enhance the capture and use of impressions-based data shared across multiple platforms.

European distributors also continue to invest in self-service products to activate agency and SME ad buyers and to compete with similar social media offerings from giants like Meta and Google. While in recent years, U.S. distributors have made self-service media buys more accessible for local ad inventory and niche buyer segments, European distributors now over-index on investment in campaign planning and execution-related cost efficiencies to grow ad spending from these solutions.

Top Opportunities in Total TV
% of total distributor respondents, n = 35

As for challenges, European distributors struggle to access accurate measurement data. Some 49% of respondents strive to get data that accurately combines ratings and ad impressions. European TV audiences will likely fragment further as both Connected TV adoption and the influence of OEMs increase. Distributors are bridging gaps of siloed data through a mix of in-house solutions and third-party data sources. While investing in addressable linear and attribution solutions helps to better track impressions, more collaboration between major OEMs and distributors is needed to deliver the required accuracy in ad measurement.

Future investments are going towards amplifying digital channels across FAST, paid ad-supported tiers, and in-housing of ad tech stack

Over the next five years, 80% of European distributors will continue investing in free ad-supported streaming (FAST) video offerings, and 86% plan to continue investing in paid ad-supported streaming products. Distributors are also interested in broadening their portfolio of ad formats - making room for dynamic, highly personalized creative as well as shorter, more interactive formats, that can enable direct responses or Shoppable TV. However, these initiatives remain stymied by ad buyers who prefer more traditional ad formats. Until marketers see emerging ad formats for TV as more of an opportunity than a risk, buyers will continue to prioritize traditional formats regardless of the industry’s investments to broaden the mix of ad durations and interactivity. European distributors have an outsized role in educating agencies on the value of new ad formats.

How European Distributors Plan to Evolve Ad-Supported Offerings in Next 5 Years
% of total respondents, n=35

When it comes to ad tech investments, European distributors mostly spend on proprietary software and tools for unified campaign planning, finance and billing, and ad delivery. The in-housing of finance and billing tools reflects the distributors' need to educate buyers on how they are charged for impressions-based and unified ad buys. As European distributors continue to unify linear and digital ad inventory and campaign-related processes, marketers are more likely to increase their share of wallet in Total TV (combined linear and streaming) campaigns.(combined linear and streaming) campaigns.

Investment Plan for Ad Tech Stack Components Over the Next 5 Years
% of total distributor respondents, n=35

Investment Plan for Ad Tech Stack Components over the Next 5 Years


Agencies

When promoting unified ad buys, European agencies prioritize estimated and reported consumption metrics, followed by audience attribution; brand lift is increasingly valued as a campaign metric

When it comes to KPIs, 67% of European ad agencies prioritize estimated consumption. It is highly significant that conversions/sales attribution is in third place, preferred by 41% of respondents. This explains heavy investments by agencies in attribution solutions that measure the impact of campaigns. Brand lift is also gaining importance as a top KPI when making cross-platform media buys, reflecting a diversification of ad campaign success metrics within the TV ecosystem.

Top Campaign Metrics Most Often Leveraged for Cross-Platform Media Buys
% of total ad agency respondents, n=54

Dynamic, hyper-personalized ads are seen as the biggest opportunities for Total TV

Agencies consider new TV ad formats, such as those with dynamic and personalized creative, shoppable features, and emerging ad formats, to be the greatest revenue-generating opportunities in Total TV. Through unique ad IDs and the attributable response of Shoppable TV, these ad products provide tangible and traceable data, enabling agencies to prove Total TV's value as part of unified campaigns.

Top Opportunities in Total TV
% of total ad agency respondents, n=54


Marketers

Marketers are interested in scale and reach, but a lack of measurement capabilities prevents further investments

Surveying senior-level European marketers revealed that an inability to develop quality creative assets and easily attribute ad campaign data is slowing investment in Total TV. When marketers partner with distributors and agencies for a Total TV ad campaign, price and scale are their top selection criteria, indicating a desire for cost efficiency and impact as part of their media buy. Surprisingly, attributes related to advanced measurement capabilities are ranked lower by marketers. Based on our study, we believe this reflects tempered expectations due to a perception in Europe that digital TV measurement capabilities are limited in part because of the siloing of data and evolving fidelity of existing currencies. European distributors and agencies have an opportunity to market their capabilities based on more preferred partnership criteria to accentuate the power of Total TV to buyers.

Streaming Partnership Criteria, Ranked by Importance
Respondents ranked criteria from most important (1) to least important (9), n=113

Marketers of all sizes are in-housing creative development tools and media buy processes to enhance their autonomy in brand ownership and data usage

Although marketers primarily partner with ad agencies to help develop creative and buy ad inventory, broad surveying of European brands shows increasing numbers of businesses are in-housing these capabilities. In-housing gives marketers greater autonomy, brand control, and cost optimization. Affordable licenses for creative technology have made it easier and cheaper for businesses to produce TV-ready advertising content, previously the exclusive remit of creative agencies. Some 57% of enterprise marketers invest in tools to fully own creative asset development. This isn’t only limited to big players: 47% of mid-market marketers and 45% of SMB marketers are following suit. Similarly, increasing numbers of marketers are investing in tools that enable ad buying, uprooting historical reliance on agencies.

% of Businesses Who Have Invested in Specific In-House Agency Capabilities,
by Business Size
% invested in the last two years; n=113

Investment Plan for Ad Tech Stack Components over the Next 5 Years


The European Total TV landscape is rife with fragmented audiences and siloed data. Video distributors and ad agencies should educate marketers on a revised set of campaign metrics for this changed ecosystem. Centering impressions and audience attribution bring needed transparency. Innovative, creative formats that are easy to measure add value. Market education, in tandem with product innovation, is central to building trust and growing ad spend in Total TV.

About Altman Solon

Altman Solon is the world's largest strategy consulting firm, focused exclusively on the Telecommunications, Media, and Technology (TMT) sectors. 

As trusted advisors to major media players and leading investors, we have helped to identify, develop, and implement many of the era-defining strategies that have shaped the sector over the last twenty years.

We offer precise, rapid, and tailor-made solutions, from strategy development to investment advisory.

Leveraging data and industry expertise, we help media companies understand how to anticipate and invest in the evolving nexus of audience consumption, content, and media technology.

Altman Solon has an extensive international reach with offices in Boston, London, Los Angeles, Mexico City, Milan, Munich, New York, Paris, San Francisco, Singapore, Sydney, Warsaw, and Zurich, with successful projects completed across the globe in more than 100 countries.

Leadership & Oversight

Christian Esser - Altman Solon

Christian Esser

Daniel-Weinbaum-Square

Daniel Weinbaum

Director | New York

Thank you to egta and Mary Ann Halford for their contributions to this report.