TV Advertising Embraces Data and Everyone Benefits

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In 2016 the epitaph of TV advertising was written for roughly the tenth consecutive year. It contained all the standard talking points: lack of precision targeting, cost inefficiency and a medium perceived as a poor way to find today’s consumers. Certainly, the marketplace for both consumers and marketers is changing.  But instead of an epitaph, I’d prefer to look at this year as an inflection point: 2016 was the year marketers truly utilized TV advertising with newfound confidence because of innovative, dynamic ways to drive reach, predict persuasion and measure attribution.  All marketers need to embrace TV’s new approaches to custom audience engagement -- or get left behind, fast.

Adapting the Digital Model for a Trusted, Established Medium

For years, digital and mobile marketers have successfully used data science and segmentation.  While marketers used some of these approaches in their television planning, measurement techniques lacked much of the ability to connect data sets (specifically between consumer behavior and linear viewing) that would allow for more detailed planning.  So for the most part it remained limited to age and/or gender demographic views on delivery.

Now, though, marketers can plan, identify and engage their custom audiences as a result of new connections between data sets.  And the television industry won’t go backward.  Networks, advertisers and agencies are all on the adoption curve; some farther along than others.  But be assured: There will not be a no-data option.  This will be part of every Upfront from now on.  The old TV will never be enough again.

Seeing the Proof in the Marketplace

At Viacom, we’re already tackling the future of TV advertising -- and we aren’t alone. Viacom Vantage, our data-driven TV platform, uses predictive analytics to help marketers define and engage their audience more effectively across our media networks.  We’re seeing similar solutions being crafted by other networks.  In our experience, once marketers utilize these capabilities and data sources, they’re convinced.

And they don’t go back.

In addition to more effective targeting and improved metrics, we’re unleashing creativity for marketers in ways we didn’t expect a year ago.

For example, think about a typical major movie release.  Clearly, a movie won’t appeal to all audiences, but most are accompanied by short, high-budget, unique ad campaigns.  With so much riding on that critical opening weekend, nailing the right audience is more important than ever.  We’re now able to target those most likely to be interested in the movie given their demographics, movie-going behaviors and content affinities.  By using our Vantage Studio Edition, for example, advertisers achieve reach while driving significantly more impressions among a movie-specific, custom segment of viewers.  This sort of model is one that you’ll see applied for advertisers in other vertical categories as well.

We’ve also developed the ability to leverage the data marketers already have. Combining first-party data with TV viewing behavior means marketers can now find and deliver ads to their strategic audience in ways that weren’t possible before.  In the case of one major retailer, we used their CRM list to engage their audience at 162% better concentration than the rest of their TV average.  For them, it meant having deeper insight into the most effective medium for their goals.  This is even more impressive given their TV spend was re-allocated to digital a year earlier.

Why It’s Time for TV Advertisers to Embrace Data

Simply saying “We’re never going back” isn’t enough for the TV industry to justify its investment in data.  There are big, tangible advantages to using an approach like ours:

  • The focus on how fans coalesce around the shows they love.  Whether someone binge watches a show or searches their favorite celebrities to see more of their work, we’re ready to adapt to how they’re watching our programming.  Sophisticated data also gives us the power to go beyond linear TV, connecting unified audiences across multiple platforms.
  • Data will only improve our marketing efforts. The advantages go beyond segmentation and yield less waste.  In the coming years, we’ll provide all sorts of different innovations: Smarter approaches to reach, coordination across multiple environments, completely new methods of doing attribution, and more.

TV advertising is being reinvented through big data, predictive analytics and other audience segmentation tools.  I can’t speak for all the other companies in our space, but I’m proud of how we’ve changed our approach to deliver the results marketers demand. With all the momentum we see in the marketplace, it’s tough not to be optimistic about the year ahead.

This column was written by Gabe Bevilacqua, Senior Vice President Product Management at Viacom Vantage.

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