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How to Select an Advertising Agency for TV Ads

If you’re a brand contemplating your first advertising campaign on TV (whether on linear, CTV or, preferably, both), at some point you may want to explore a TV ad agency and tech providers. Here are some topics to explore with potential partners, organized around three key areas: strategic audience targeting, TV media planning and buying, and campaign measurement.

Find Out What Strategic Audience Targeting Options They Offer

Here we’re referring to targeting strategic audiences using high quality first or third- party data sets based on observed behavior, as opposed to using traditional methods based on index and broad age/ gender demographics. For example, if you’re Instant Pot (a home appliance brand), would you prefer to target a traditional, W25-54 audience, or find actual W25-54 who have kids and who are also cooking enthusiasts, and then target similar people through national TV?

Questions to Ask Providers About Targeting

Can I use my CRM data for targeting?
Targeting with first-party data may make it easier for you to reach people who are similar to your best customers. It requires that you match your data with a provider’s viewing panel, so be sure to inquire about a prospective provider’s data-matching process. Find out which safe havens (secure services for storing and sharing sensitive data under strict protocols) they regularly work with, if any, and how much experience they have in this area. If they’ve only been down that road with a handful of clients, completing the match could become a major obstacle.

How can I know that the audience I would use for targeting is composed of people in market for my products?
A viewing target is only as good as the panel it’s based on, so it’s essential to know whether the panel is nationally representative — and if not, where the gaps are. The sheer size of the panel only serves to ensure a higher level of statistical accuracy, but you’ll want to feel comfortable with how a prospective vendor translates the people in their panel into your target audience.

Ask Them About Their Media Planning And Buying

TV-viewing audiences are more fragmented than ever. What’s not often spoken about, however, is that campaigns are still planned and bought the way they were back when there were only 30 television networks. This has led to today’s campaigns being plagued by inflated frequency and decreased reach. Technology offers a solution. With the right platform, marketers almost instantly can evaluate available inventory across all of national TV (both linear and CTV) and create media plans that maximize the reach of a strategic target audience.

Questions to Ask Providers About How They Plan And Buy

How do you select inventory?
It’s important to note that while many TV providers claim to use granular audiences for planning, when it comes to actual TV inventory selection, they usually revert to the industry standard and rank spots based on how they index against standard age/gender demos. To truly take advantage of the efficiencies offered by advanced TV technology, look for vendors who are able to secure the inventory recommended to reach more of your actual strategic target audience.

What inventory sources are available on your platform?
Many advanced TV providers offer household addressable advertising, which has a footprint approximately 60% of the size of linear TV. Other advanced TV providers have relationships with only local media owners and must stitch together multiple buys to give the impression of a national footprint. Look for vendors with network-direct relationships that enable them to reach the broadest array of customers across the national TV-viewing universe. (Simulmedia, for example, has direct relationships with over 120 linear networks). It’s also important to make sure you understand if the inventory you’re buying is preemptible or guaranteed to air.

The same goes for CTV. Be sure to ask about the type of CTV inventory the company is buying. Can they only do guaranteed/direct deals? If so, they lose the ability to cap frequency. You want to work with someone who has access to premium inventory from multiple publishers, so that you can reach your audience wherever they consume content, just like you would with channels on linear. Simulmedia has access to 130 CTV publishers and platforms with private marketplace deals, so we can add campaign-level frequency caps to ensure you aren't hitting the same person over and over with the same ad. Our long-term relationships with these publishers also give us the ability to buy guaranteed inventory for contextual buys.

How does your solution make my planning and buying more efficient?Allocating 35% of your TV ad dollars to primetime inventory may seem like a good move in theory, but even reducing that to 25%, given the cost of primetime advertising, would enable you to buy hundreds of other spots across multiple dayparts to reach even more people in your audience more efficiently. Ask prospective providers for their philosophy on how your ad dollars should be allocated — whether their answer is right for you will depend heavily on your brand’s specific business goals.

See if They Provide Metrics for TV Ads

Historically, measuring TV ad effectiveness has been based on impressions, rating points and, more recently, audience reach. It’s one thing to know how many GRPs a campaign delivers or how many people you reach, but neither of those measurements provides the context needed to understand the impact of a campaign on business outcomes, nor are they enough to understand how marketers can optimize for the future. New technology can help marketers fill those gaps.

Questions to Ask Providers About How They Measure

Can I use my proprietary data for measurement?
By matching exposure data with transaction data from your CRM, you’ll be able to know which viewers saw an ad and the action they subsequently took. This will yield powerful insights on which customer segments were most responsive to a campaign. Additionally, if you’re using first-party data for targeting, using that same data for post-campaign outcomes measurement is invaluable for developing deeper analytics on customer behavior and media performance. For example, Simulmedia can ingest first-party data through our LiveRamp integration and target those viewers directly or create lookalike audiences similar to them.

What will you be able to tell me about how my campaigns perform?
The key things to listen for in this answer are whether you’ll be able to understand which days, dayparts and networks perform best in a campaign, and what kind of conversion-lift rate a campaign generates among different audience segments. This knowledge not only allows for the optimization of future media buys, it can also help you refine your target audience segments to improve the conversion rate over time.

What sort of attribution options do you offer? Do you have flexibility in terms of customization?
There are a number of attribution models for advanced TV campaigns, from person-level matching of transaction and viewing data to the more general time-based correlation. If the prospective vendor doesn’t have a model that enables you to measure your brand’s KPIs or give you options in terms of attribution windows and reporting metrics, ask if they have preferred measurement partners who might. Look for best-in-class names so you can feel confident in the eventual results. For clients that are interested in CTV buys, for example, Simulmedia can easily integrate with your measurement/attribution partner of choice by including their VAST tag. Note: VAST is a Video Ad Serving Template for structuring ad tags that serve ads to video players. VAST transfers important metadata about an ad from the ad server to a video player. It was initially developed by the Interactive Advertising Bureau and launched in 2008.

Download our Cross-Channel TV Playbook for a detailed guide on how to unlock audiences on both linear and connected TV.

Want to learn more? Contact us or email us at advertise@simulmedia.com.