Better Will Always Outweigh Perfect In Audience Targeting

John Piccone

Originally posted on MediaPost

Since the dawn of TV, ad buyers and sellers have, for the most part, been transacting on the opportunity for an audience to see an advertiser’s ad. Based on the data available, they did the best they could to prove that the right people saw the right ad and took some form of an action that led to some form of revenue.

Of course, there were leaps made in measuring the relationship of TV advertising to sales, but perfect did not seem to get in the way of better. The media marketplace understood that over time, things would naturally progress – if the drum beat of what if? and satisfaction with better than, though not perfect set the tone for decisions.

Now it seems that drum beat is getting louder as we enter a new dawn of television advertising, a dawn where the influx of better data has expedited the interpretation of what matters and what doesn’t. And although the mission to understand the relationship between TV advertising and business outcomes has not changed, the tactics that were once thought tried-and-true are now up for reinterpretation.

Today media outputs such as GRPs, CPM and Day Part Mix rule the roost for both pre- and post- campaign pricing and value metrics. And ratings have for years been the principal metric for audience attention through general personal attributes such as sex, age and gender.


Should we expect these fundamental elements to go by the way side because better data is on the table? Of course not. Metrics such as CPM and GRP are stable means through which to transact. However, to categorize audiences by only day-part viewing or age and gender is not good enough. And this is where tactics will change quickly.

Thanks to first- and third-party anonymous purchasing data, media outputs are being tied to business outcomes such as transactions, store visits and basket size volume. As a result, marketers can see how X number of GRPs at Y CPM contributed to Z dollars in actual sales – specifically measured against a host of new audience attributes such as Spent on average $250/month at Macys or Goes to Pizza Hut 3 times per week.

But it isn’t enough to understand that those people were reached and took an action at these respective merchants. What also matters is understanding the customers who were not exposed to paid television advertising yet also spent time and money there. Thanks to second-by-second commercial viewing data, we can now measure the lift of exposed versus unexposed audiences on sales activity. And when marketers can prove their TV advertising had a positive return versus unexposed audiences, TV advertising moves from a cost center to a profit center, just as search engine marketing has done.

Last but not least, by measuring sales against different audience types, marketers will get a clearer picture of who is and who isnt their current customer. This will not only allow them to steal share from the competition but will also allow them to reinterpret previous television advertising activity to determine the right media outputs to drive the best business outcomes.

In today’s hectic marketplace, the spoils will go to those who don’t let perfect get in the way of better.

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