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Derby Day: How Simulmedia's Software Finds More Sports & Gambling Fans For Less Cost On TV

Matt Collins
Matt Collins
Published: May. 04, 2018

If you market a brand that appeals to an audience comprised of sports and gambling fans, love hats the size of compact, plug-in hybrids, or wish that the mint julep got more respect, this is a big weekend for you. That’s because it will feature the 144th running of the Kentucky Derby.

For the moment, however, let’s leave aside the notion of hats and bourbon drinks and assume that you’re a brand marketer. What if for some reason your boss said you couldn’t advertise on the Derby, but still demanded that you find a way to reach this sports and gambling audience? And what if you had to reach them on the same day as the Derby — Saturday, May 5 — but couldn’t spend any more to do so than it would cost to buy a single 30 second spot during the Derby broadcast. Where would you even start?

In keeping with experiments we’ve done for the Super Bowl and the Daytona 500, we turned to our advanced TV advertising software to see if it could find more sports and gambling fans than a single 30 second spot on the broadcast of the Derby could reach. To make things fair, we told our software platform it had to accomplish this by advertising only on Saturday, May 5 — race day. To make things interesting, we tied some weights to its ankles, cutting its budget by 20 percent, relative to Kantar’s average ad unit estimated cost from 4-7:30p ET.

The result: even with a 20 percent reduced budget, Simulmedia won this race by several lengths, proving that an advertiser that wants to reach an audience within a single program can use advanced TV software to find a lot more of that audience, more efficiently, by advertising on other shows. We proved it with the Super Bowl, did it again for the Daytona 500, and has completed the trifecta with the Derby.

Table showing what a sample TV advertising plan could deliver in number of sports and gambling fans reached.

What’s noteworthy about this experiment is the number of ads and networks our plan recommended. It proves that to reach today’s fragmented audiences on TV, an advertiser must buy more ads and networks than most traditional media plans would recommend.

To keep pace with audience fragmentation, it’s also critical that marketers have a tool to predict where and how many people within a particular audience will be watching on TV. After all, TV advertising is a futures market, and without the ability to accurately predict what’s going to happen, media buying becomes much less precise.

Our software finds audience wherever it goes and whatever it watches. One of the criticisms some people make about data-optimized linear TV is that a lot of the inventory falls in undesirable dayparts, especially overnight, because of its lower CPM. In this case, our plan calls for more primetime than any other daypart. Here’s an overview of the plan's daypart mix:

Image of TV advertising software showing media planning across all TV dayparts to find cost-effective audience reach.

Finally, the message here should not be read to mean, “Don’t advertise on big, tentpole programs such as the Kentucky Derby!” There are all sorts of reasons why this may be a good idea. Advertisers interested in maximizing reach against a particular audience, though, should consider other options.

I’m not a gambler, so I have no skin in tomorrow’s race. If I did like to gamble, though, I wouldn’t bet against the favorite. That includes the horse and, in this case, the advanced TV software.