Channel 4 is a unique organisation: with a regional HQ based in Leeds, a public service publisher broadcaster with a distinctive creative remit, funded solely from commercial revenues and without public subsidy. In order to fulfil its public service remit they seek to optimise returns from their commercial activities and minimise overheads in order to maximise the spend on screen.
In 2018 Channel 4’s achieved revenues of £975 million. Increasingly strong digital revenues reached a record £138 million. Channel 4 is now ranked the 36th biggest social media brand in the world, with views across platforms reaching a record 915 million recently. Channel 4 relies on TV advertising and sponsorship to make programmes, films and content for all channels to market which in turn enables the delivery of their remit.
In support of the development of a new and improved scheduling system for Channel 4 to both increase revenues and maintain fairness for C4 advertisers. Fairness here equates to evenness for the advertising agencies. There are lots of complexities and challenges within this problem, even in comparison to the sorts of work the EventMAP normally delivers.
The challenge was to use EventMAP suite of timetabling and scheduling software products into the world of television for scheduling for 21 linear TV channels advertising across national and regional buying packages for Channel 4. This was to include ongoing support and long-term development to adapt to the business need of Channel 4. The aim was to replace two expensive and limited scheduling systems with one faster, more powerful and innovative system based on EventMAP Optime scheduling technology. The target being a significant increase in revenue via vastly improved schedules from the system, while maintaining high quality schedules for all advertisers.
The technical aspects of this project proved to be vastly complex and involved forming a team, to inform both the process and gain valuable insight from Channel 4 on current and future practices needed in this area. The scope of the challenge also increased considerably through the lifetime of the project as testing and more complexity was revealed, or added to the new scheduling delivery. An agile process was followed to develop, test, check and run the advertising scheduling in parallel to the current system before migrating to the new system over time.
EventMAP added value by replacing previous on-site systems with aging hardware, and requiring significant human intervention, to a reliable cloud-based alternative. This resulted in a solution achieving up to 8 times faster schedule delivery. The previous on-site solutions would also have caused major problems for the campaign teams during the COVID lockdown period, but with the cloud-based solution the team could work remotely with zero disruption to their workflow.
More frequent releases of schedule cycles allowed algorithm improvements to realised revenue benefits to Channel 4 in shorter time periods – whilst previous scheduling solutions received few updates over their 15-year lifetime potentially leaving a lot of revenue unrealised.
EventMAP provides a dedicated team working closely with Channel 4’s Campaign Ops. Allowing development and maintenance by a team that fully understands the scheduling requirements of Channel 4 and provide comprehensive technical support 24/7.
Flexibity: EventMAP’s solution can produce efficient and deliverable schedules in any particularly poor advertisement environments. The COVID-19 pandemic resulted in all time low advertiser spending across all channel 4 platforms. EventMAP’s solution was more than able to handle low advertiser spending whereas the previous solution would have required a lot of manual intervention, time and lost revenue in producing feasible schedules.
EventMAP’s solution is a platform capable of fully revolutionising Channel 4’s scheduling system. Already EventMAP have introduced innovate features that could not be achieved by the other solution and is the tool that allows Channel 4 to innovate over other media organisations. It also allows Channel 4 to refine their schedules multiple times throughout the month to better achieve advertiser requirements and maximise revenue.
EventMAP has successfully developed a working, tested and viable system. The system has now been formally accepted by Channel 4 and has replaced their existing systems, producing television advert schedules from October 2019. Channel 4 have also noted a significant increase in revenue, meeting the original target and in particular have seen increases around complex regional advertising, and have now signed up a long-term contract with EventMAP for further services and development.