Since the beginning, TV advertisers had no choice but to rely on creating an emotional connection with their audiences hoping that it would pay off at some point in the future. While digital advertisers could almost immediately measure the impact of their campaigns by consumers’ online actions and behavior, TV advertisers had to wait and rely on less precise metrics, such as brand awareness and reach, to infer the same thing. But today, developments in TV technologies and audience segmentation offer an opportunity to bring greater timeliness and responsiveness to TV advertising that was not available before.
Connected TV (CTV) is the most responsive TV platform of the bunch, translating users’ online intent signals into household-level device identifiers usually within a couple of weeks. Not surprisingly, CTV is at the top of marketers’ lists when considering advanced TV media buys. And with nearly 200 million US connected TV users today (see chart), they’re still benefiting from the advantages of TV’s wide reach. CTV is far from perfect: there’s still a lag in investment, challenges with managing frequency, as well as some technical and reporting issues. The lack of clear measurement standards also needs to be resolved before CTV can reach its full advertising potential.
Brands comfortable with a longer sales window may consider Addressable TV, where it typically takes three to four weeks between the data submission and live media. In this case, addressable spots deliver better timing and are more cost-effective than more traditional options, but their limited ad inventory makes them more difficult to plan for, since they are sourced mainly from the two minutes of local TV ad time per hour.
To compete with these new options, the major TV networks have begun offering advanced targeting options of their own in the last few years. As the name implies, advanced targeting involves a more data-driven approach, where TV ad inventory is based on target audience ratings that combine TV viewing and consumer 1st and 3rd party data, in addition to the traditional demographic options of age and gender. eMarketer estimated that TV networks made approximately 7-10% of their inventory available as advanced target buys for the recent 2019-2020 upfront marketplace.
These offerings enable advertisers and media agencies to create audience segments that represent the consumers they’re trying to reach more closely than the traditional age and gender segments and providing greater granularity. This new level of precision is “baked into the TV networks’ advanced targeting products” but, it increases the complexity of the ad buy and extends the reporting time to weeks, instead of days.
Despite the challenges, advanced targeting is steadily gaining support across brands and media buyers. But, “the networks have to prove it’s worth the costs—for everyone,” concludes AdAge.