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The gateway to a new world

Back in November 2015, the great and the good of the agency world came together to learn what the major UK commercial broadcasters were showcasing in 2016. In true Spinal Tap fashion, the glitz and glamour were turned up to eleven. ITV in particular pulled out all the stops to ensure their renamed ‘Gala’ had the requisite level of ‘talent’ in attendance and content was to the fore. Channel 4 followed a similar path, albeit in a slightly more irreverent way as is customary given their boundary pushing remit.

It’d be easy to overlook the commercial aspects of these showcase events as the broadcasters look to deliver what is best described as a level of one-upmanship against the other. That’s not to say the commercial elements don’t play an important role. Channel 4, in particular with their Transforming TV debate and general play in the technology space are pushing the envelope.

It was during the Transforming TV section of last year’s annual showcase that Channel 4 discreetly announced a new product that has the potential to revolutionise the way in which agencies engage and interact with them as a broadcaster. The ‘Agency Portal’ as Channel 4 has named it will deliver an unprecedented level of transparency between agency and broadcaster, with agencies able to access campaign information literally at the touch of a button. The portal isn’t fully operational yet but will be a live and real experience for agencies this year.

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It’s truly refreshing to learn that a major UK broadcaster understands a transparent and collaborative world has huge mutual benefits. In its simplest form, Channel 4’s agency portal will help to defuse many elementary frustrations clients have with TV generally, especially those more familiar with the dynamics of a digital world, also frustrations agencies have with broadcasters from a servicing perspective, by giving the agency unprecedented access to fundamental campaign deliverables.

The portal itself continues to be refined prior to full launch later in 2016. Channel 4 has chosen to collaborate with a broad spectrum of agencies to ensure the systems functionality caters for the needs of all, rather than a select few. ARM is actively involved in this test phase, helping to shape and mould future communications with one of the UK’s pre-eminent broadcasters.

To be clear, the C4 agency portal isn’t a fully-fledged programmatic portal where agencies will be able to create and refine their own TV campaigns. However, such tech advancements, combined with a new level of openness and transparency means it’s a case of when not if that world exists.

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