Yes, you are reading that right. We know of course that audiences come to TV for entertainment. But what has not been true to date has been that TV is coming to the audience. Out of many corners of the industry, ad buyers and sellers are starting to take the rules they learned from the digital universe that targeted, relevant ads get more attention and apply that to TV.
In the waning days of summer, a number of pointers to an audience-driven future began to emerge. In case you missed it, WPP’s Xaxis declared itself the largest audience buying platform in the industry (continuing to separate itself from the term trading desk) and Mike Finnegan, formerly of Xaxis, is leading programmatic for LiveNation to divide that company’s assets (entertainment and first party data) into audiences that can be targeted. These two announcements, one buy-side and one sell-side, foretell a shift in attitude from buying demographics like age and gender, to applying those insights and other behavioral datasets to establish more refined targets for TV ads, driven by TV’s continued fragmentation and audience dystopia. Done well, advertisers and media sellers will benefit from new ways of delivering the best ad at the best time in terms of reach (for the buyers) and greater monetization (for the sellers).
From the marketer’s point of view, how do you prepare for an audience-led approach to TV ad placement?
- Get your first-party data in shape for active duty. The era of Big Data has left a lot of marketers with that nagging “Is that all there is?” feeling since big does not necessarily equate to insightful. Participating in the new world of audience-based marketing on TV will require a push to better understand which audiences you serve (or would like to) are the best TV targets. How do you know which targets to choose? They should be large enough to target based on reach, but specific enough to respond well to relevant offers.
- Beyond size, identify the audience targets based clarity and business potential. Not all audiences that you serve offer the same opportunity, of course. But you should have a sense for who is worth a higher CPM and finer targeting, versus those who can be reached with broader, less bespoke approaches. Revenue per customer, purchase history by segment, and the value of relevant messages to large but distinct groups, are the kinds of metrics to use to determine who is worth the finer granularity of an audience-specific campaign.
- Engage your agency to tie digital and TV planning and buying closer together. Which media agencies are going to stand out in the audience-driven era? Those who apply data and strategy to their client’s audience needs, and decide which media serves that audience best for the marketing strategy laid out in front of them. So instead of having digital, print or mobile planning divorced from television buying, the agencies that tie these efforts together based on a conquest campaign, brand awareness effort, or promotion campaign will reap the benefits of working dollars working together.
- Work with media companies to understand their audience-centric targeting ability. Companies ranging from MTV to Conde Nast and Meredith have built in-house creative agencies that are media-agnostic, at least within their own set of owned and operated properties. As the video distribution ecosystem consolidates, and content marketing explodes from text articles to branded video content, expect to see the same effort from content owners and their distributors as well as upstarts that take the digital concept of audiences to the TV world.
Learn from the experience of your digital team they dealt with fragmentation and the need to tie spending to business outcomes early on in order to get the budget allocations to try new ideas. They may not have touched TV previously, but the new rules that are being written will look very familiar to them.
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