Addressable TV is sweeping the French advertising market

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Hortense Thomine Desmazures, Deputy General Manager in charge of Digital at M6 Publicité, reflects on the launch of addressable TV offers on M6 channels earlier this year, as well as the challenges of simplifying the buying process of TV products.

How long has M6 been working on a segmented TV offer and when was it launched?

Firstly, it is important to note the context of the French market and its local specificities, as the law allowing segmented TV in France was published on the 6 August 2020 and was implemented immediately.

Then at the start of 2021, an MVP project was launched between the television channels and operators to officially launch segmented TV. This framed and highly simplified offer, implemented over six to nine months, sought to validate the technological robustness of the project to industrialise segmented TV in a second phase.

More than 65% of the French population use a box to watch TV, while the HbbTV option accounts for only 10%. The market has therefore been constructed through cooperation between broadcasters and operators, who roll out the technological part, but also thanks to the data collected by these operators.

Last March, live campaigns in segmented TV were launched first with Orange, next with Bouygues Telecom which has been offering this service since 1 July. At M6, we have organised around thirty campaigns since March. Our segmented TV offer is available on M6 with Orange and on M6, W9 and 6ter with Bouygues Telecom. For the moment we want to maintain a significant audience, which is why there are no alternative digital channels.


We predict that there will be around five million boxes eligible for addressable TV advertising by the end of 2021 and to do this we need to rely on the latest generation box, but also on households to give their consent. Concretely, a banner appears to ask  the permission to use the viewers’ data. If not, they don’t get segmented advertising. Currently, 60% of households do. Although by December 2021, less than 15% of French homes will be eligible, since SFR and Free are not yet operational.

What were the obstacles and challenges in introducing this new product to the French market?

TV advertisers have a lot of demands and to meet them we need a multi-channel approach,  with all operators ready to launch segmented TV.

Other media, the PQR and billboards, are currently against the arrival of TV on their turf and segmented TV in France cannot mention the precise geotag of the address in order to protect local media. It’s a huge constraint for us because our goal with addressable TV is to reach smaller, more local advertisers.

In addition, some viewers have mixed opinions on it, particularly with regards to data protection.

What has been the trend in terms of demand since the launch?

The demand for segmented TV is a real talking point in the market, but it is being done gradually and, with this in mind, we need to look at the long term, not the next six months but rather the next three to five years.

Why? Put simply, we still don’t have the premium option yet, as the reach and the channel inventory are still quite limited, and the model is not yet widely known.


But the market is proving impatient, people are curious to test it out and so the inventory is being built up as we go along. Segmented TV remains a technological challenge and one that must be qualitatively evaluated. 2021 has been a test year in this area following revisions of estimates that were made at the end of 2020 due to the French market not being able to rely on all operators.

We have seen an increase in advertisers’ and media agencies’ interest in our addressable TV offer. There was a certain expectation around modernising and renewing the TV market, providing deterministic data, as opposed to national TV that provides panel data. In the end, we aimed to get closer to what GAFA offer: massive reach and granular data. With addressable TV, we provide the best of both worlds: the power of television combined with more precise targeting and digital KPIs.

One of the concerns was whether ATV was going to bring incremental revenue or cannibalise existing TV budgets. The biggest potential lies in small advertisers, digital players, and first-time TV buyers, who until now had no interest in advertising on national TV because, for instance, they have a strong local presence.

What’s interesting is that in the first few months, we had approximately 50% of local advertisers who had never done TV campaigns before and 50% were advertisers coming from the top agencies, who have done TV advertising in the past, so are familiar to us. We think this will evolve towards a 70/30 or 80/20 split in favour of local advertisers.

What do you think are the prerequisites for the market to work?

ATV’s economic model is very different from that of linear TV or catch-up TV; you have to completely change your mindset as it requires a lot of energy and the budgets are small. The essential element of starting and growing this market is to allow advertisers to buy segmented TV via automated platforms, and book ATV campaigns in a few clicks. We need to offer simple purchasing methods, particularly in terms of language, so that it is clear and easy for advertisers to understand, but also with audience segments that can be activated on the different TV channels. This is how we will chip away at the market shares of GAFA players.

At M6 Publicité, we’ve been working with Realytics on the development of a buying platform aimed at simplifying access to TV with a programmatic TV buying module for both broadcast and segmented TV.

Advertisers are waiting to have access to more data to get closer to what the GAFA are providing. This data represents an opportunity to reach new customers, particularly digital referents, with KPIs and languages that speak to them.

What reach and what KPIs do you currently offer advertisers?

Currently we have geolocation, which allows us to refine the composition of households. There is also what we call third-party data, such as the advertisers’ CRM database, from which we can match the emails of contacts with those of subscribers to operators’ boxes to pool them or not. Of course, this requires a fairly large reach. There is also e-commerce data, relevency, which corresponds for example, to buyers of a particular product from major retailers, which is relevant and precise data.


You have mentioned three challenges: regionalisation, automation, and reach. Do you see another?

Europe is a very diverse market and currently, there is not one standard for ATV solutions at international scale. In France today, ad spot substitution is the preferred option. The L-banner format is less attractive because the HbbTV addressable base is limited unlike Germany which counts 2 million HbbTV households.

Who is the perfect client?

For us, the perfect client is one who has not yet advertised on TV and who does not necessarily have a national target, but rather a more localised one. For example, local supermarket brands, car dealerships or local authorities. If these advertisers have smaller budgets, segmented TV is a great opportunity for them.

What do you think is the future of TV?

TV doesn’t stop at the TV set. At the heart of TV is content, what we call total video, but video with requirements on content and the advertising experience. The TV of tomorrow will have interesting things to offer in terms of data accessibility. The interactivity of TV will also evolve, with the possibility of choosing content, by playing with the remote control and more innovative, entertaining formats thanks to the attractiveness of live TV. All these new features will maintain the quality of TV moving forward. /

Hortense Thomine Desmazures

Hortense Thomine Desmazures

Deputy General Manager in charge of Digital, M6 Publicité

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