Comment: Travel and TV are better together

ITV business development director Jason Spencer explores the relationship and parallels between the two industries

Great television would be all the poorer without fantastic locations and a sense of place: whether it’s the grit of England’s North East for Vera, the beauty of Cornwall for Doc Martin, the magic of Mallorca for Love Island or the Australian jungle for I’m A Celebrity. As a ‘window on the world’ television brings the most amazing locations – far flung and close by – in high definition to our biggest screens and most personal devices.

Television is possibly the travel industry’s most powerful selling machine, as it unwraps the world to inspire viewers, turning them into travelling customers, and building demand for all types of magical destination.

Travel and Television: we have much in common! We bring people together; create memorable experiences and emotional connections; inspire and educate; make people happy with a heady mix of escapism and entertainment.

As well as having plenty in common, we can learn from each other too, especially in times of change and challenge: what works and what doesn’t, and how should we evolve?

Travel Weekly and ITV: Better Together.

We see a chance to help each other, to supercharge growth and drive our industries forward. We are indeed better together, and that’s why ITV has chosen to partner with Travel Weekly this year.

Our partnership kicks off with the launch of some newly commissioned research at the Future of Travel conference in September, which will highlight the new ‘rules’ of travel behaviour. But in advance of this, let’s share the new rules of TV’s behaviour, and showcase how and why we’re changing. The parallels between our industries will hopefully be clear…

“The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.”Socrates

In our 95 years of existence, television has always innovated… moving from a blurry black & white screen in a wooden box, to the 50-inch 4k ultra-HD widescreen digital miracles we fix to our walls and point all our furniture at in the most intimate spaces of our homes. We’re now entering television’s third age: from four broadcast channels, to hundreds of cable and satellite channels, to thousands of channels and shows available live and on demand.

Just like the travel industry, as technology changes, new destinations and experiences suddenly become possible, and things are moving at pace. Streaming through the likes of Netflix, Disney+ and ITV Hub have accelerated, and viewing behaviours have evolved; advertisers want more flexibility, insight and innovation in how they plan, book and measure campaigns; viewers and advertisers alike want brilliant content, but expect brand-safe and trustworthy environments.

As the UK’s biggest commercial broadcaster, we need to continue to lead the pack. To stay ahead, we recently asked viewers and advertising partners a very simple question: “What can we do better?”

VIEWERS told us they want more quality content, across more platforms, delivered on their terms. As such, we’ve adopted a new approach to content and distribution to deliver the best of both worlds:

  1. Increasing our content budget to £1.1bn, to invest in premium, unmissable content such as more live sport, entertainment and drama than ever before. Linear continues to deliver the vast majority of our audiences and revenue, but viewers are increasingly streaming, hence…
  2. Launching ITVX: the UK’s freshest streaming service. ITVX will be our ad-funded, free to access streaming service with four times the content of ITV Hub (which it will completely replace). We’re committing £180m of additional budget for original content and acquisitions when we launch in November. It’s our biggest, boldest move in over a decade and sets us up brilliantly for the future – a new platform powered by data and creativity, built around the viewer, available across every platform. ITVX is where TV goes next.

ADVERTISERS told us they want more collaboration in partnership to solve business problems, also delivered on their terms. We’ve therefore adopted a new body language, comprising three new commercial behaviours based on their feedback, in order to work better together with advertisers, whether long-terms existing partners or new-to-TV brands:

  1. Always be in Beta: Feedback suggested we’d been too protective of our work, so we’ve begun inviting partners upstream into our innovation pilots. We’ve launched ITV AdLabs as a place to experiment together: from data matching and dynamic creative, to shoppable ads and metaverse solutions
  2. Celebrate our Superpower: We’re helping brands better understand mainstream culture, and leverage ITV’s ability to bring the nation together… from climate change campaigns like Home Planet to mental health initiatives like Britain Get Talking
  3. Create more Conversations: We’re spending more time understanding what brands really want, to tailor solutions for them – offering more flexibility and support in ways we had never done before, such as our self-serve ad booking platform, Planet V

Travel and TV: Better Together?

We’re both in the business of providing entertainment and escapism, delivering for customers every single time. Expectations and competition have changed. People want a far wider range of experiences – whether that’s holidays or entertainment – and they want it delivered in more ways, and on their terms. If we recognise the powerful role both travel and TV play in national life, as we each adapt to changing behaviours, attitudes and needs, then we have a very bright future. We can indeed be… better together.

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