“European television groups have missed out big time on the opportunity to demonstrate that they are essential partners for building digital brands. We should have provided digital newcomers with aggressive advertising deals early on, instead, we were busy securing our traditional business.” - A European media executive.
The media exec is right, of course. TV groups could have been far more savvy in helping build flagship digital brands. But it's not too late.
In Germany, there are the examples Zalando and ABOUT YOU. In Sweden, numerous success stories exist. Elsewhere in Europe, innovative startup deals can still be made by broadcasters. Not only will such deals nurture future clients, competitors in the same categories will also have to book TV campaigns. And most importantly, many startups will witness real life examples of how TV can build digital brands.
Let’s look at the argument more closely. We cannot pretend TV is the only game in town. Many digital businesses do not need TV advertising. There are three ways digital brands can become huge without any conventional marketing.
One is network effects or viral marketing. Facebook, WhatsApp and Tencent’s games became huge because it is no fun to be the only one participating in social media, communications or a mobile game.
The second way to become huge is truly offering something best of class for the first time. AirBnB enabled access to unused, private guest rooms at scale for the first time.
The third way to acquire customers without traditional media is “searchability.” If you offer something very specific, like night shift jobs in bakeries, you have an advantage. Job Today, GoEuro, Blablacar or Linguee are examples of successful European digital players that are inherently “searchable.”
But there are still plenty of very worthwhile digital businesses which are not viral, first movers or inherently “searchable.” In fact, the overwhelming majority of digital businesses probably do not benefit from inherent growth advantages. And if you can combine inherent advantages with media, you are unbeatable.
Using TV and other media, the fashion platform ABOUT YOU was launched in 2014. In 2017, ABOUT YOU had a brand awareness within it's primary target audiences of above 60%, generated several hundreds of millions of revenues and has a growth rate of more than 100%.
TV and other media can be the breakthrough for many new digital brands. Throughout Europe, TV still draws huge audiences. Consumer startups need to consider TV far more seriously than they do today. To revolutionise health, finance, food and more, we need to build new brands that inspire and acquire consumers at scale.