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The Italian job: What you need to know about Italian TV

Launching a TV campaign in a market you are unfamiliar with can be a daunting prospect, but new countries help to expand your audience reach and can offer unique market conditions which, with the right market expertise, can be used to deliver positive results.

One market that differs significantly from the UK, but offers its own opportunities, is Italy. So, if you are unfamiliar with the TV landscape in Italy, what do you need to know?

In brief:

  • TV viewership is high: only about 3% of web users ‘do not use’ TV (vs. 5% average in Europe), and TV is watched for an average of 4 hours and 8 minutes per day.
  • Viewers are responsive: web users in Italy are about 4% more likely than the European average – and about 50% more likely than France – to discover brands through TV (GlobalWebIndex, April 2019). We have experienced the same for client response rates that are similar to more wealthy markets like the Netherlands.
  • Media is fairly cheap: According to our own experience at All Response Media, cost per thousands (CPTs) in the daytime are as low as €2, and average pricing is about 5% cheaper than the UK, which is already one of the cheaper European markets.
  • It’s a sizable market: the total Italian population is about 60m, equating to 52m adults.

Aside from this, Italy offers some unique buying conditions.

Across most European markets, TV spots are bought on a CPT, cost per GRP (gross rating point) or television rating (TVR) basis. Advertisers simply allocate a budget and are charged back on a price per 1% of their buying audience or 1000 views. However, in Italy, most TV is sold on a cost per spot basis. Risk is fairly low, particularly for daytime, advertisers can avoid the risk of overspending due to higher ratings and are guaranteed a good frequency. Whilst there is a small risk of not getting your ‘money’s worth’ if ratings decrease; we always closely monitor actual impact delivery and cost back to an adult CPT in order to maintain efficiency, plus sales house estimates tend to be rolling and based on robust data, so equivalent CPTs work out well.

The cost per spot model also makes TV in Italy highly optimisable; sales houses like Sky will plan campaigns at a spot level by timeband or day of week level, meaning that optimisations from results are quick and easy to action. Sky have with the broadest niche station mix in Italy, 40+ stations, many of which are similar to the UK, e.g. Sky Arts and Atlantic.

Choice is also a major factor, Italy is one of the more competitive markets in Europe; with 358 stations (just behind the UK which ranks 5th in the world for TV station choice with 480), which places it 14th in the world; ranging from public general entertainment stations like RAI 1 (think ITV), AB1 skewed entertainment and current affairs like LA7 (think Channel 4) to niche stations (Sky Arte, Classica) and religious TV (often effective for charity clients). A competitive market means lower pricing and plenty of flexibility for the advertiser, the ability to choose the correct balance of stations for a broad range of audiences and businesses and continuous testing opportunities.

Aside from that, whilst TV ad spend is €2-3b per year, the Italian market is actually fairly flexible. Booking deadlines tend to be 2-3 weeks before campaign start dates, and last minute opportunities (particularly in the cheaper Q1 and summer months) are rife. This means you can get a campaign running within a month, and by reserving 10-20% of the budget for last minute deals in Italy for one client All Response Media have seen CPTs reduced by up to 15% overall, significantly improving efficiency.

All Response Media viewpoint

If you are looking to expand into new European markets, Italy could definitely be a consideration. A diverse and competitive TV market, some of Europe’s cheapest rates, and viewers who are responsive to TV, combined with low risk and reactive buying opportunities all create perfect conditions for a highly responsive campaign.

Furthermore, whilst a cost per spot model has its own drawbacks, the highly optimisable nature of the Italian market means we can do the most with results – and continue to improve efficiency.