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Simulmedia Guarantees Brands That Data-Driven TV Ads Work

Marissa Guzzo
Marissa Guzzo
Published: Mar. 05, 2015

Originally posted on The Wall Street Journal

There is a lot of interest in bringing online advertising-like targeting to TV. But there are skeptics who wonder whether trying to cherry pick the right mix of TV shows to reach specific target audiences is worth all the trouble.

Simulmedia, one of the companies looking to disrupt TV advertising by employing Web-like data targeting, is so confident that its techniques work that it is making advertisers promises in writing.

Marketers that agree to spend $1 million with Simulmedia for a one-month period will receive a guarantee that the campaign will deliver better business results than that advertiser's existing TV ad efforts.

How's Simulmedia going to prove this?

Simulmedia says it will work with advertisers to figure out what results they want to track -- like, say, the number of people who go to a retailer's store and actually buy something. Simulmedia is able to match up TV ad delivery with credit card data for over 60 million households in the U.S.

For this new guarantee, the company will be able to look at whether the households that were exposed to a brand's regular ad campaign bought as much of that retailer's products as households that were exposed to the more sophisticated ad targeting plan, for instance.

"We realized that the best and easiest way to shift the conversation with TV buyers and advertisers from [ratings and demographic buys] to business outcomes, was to guarantee the outcome," said Dave Morgan, Simulmedia's chief executive.

If Simulmedia can't deliver on its guarantee, it promises to provide advertisers with make-good ad inventory based on whatever percentage of the advertisers business goal it falls short on.


Simulmedia already helps brands like Choice Hotels reach potential travelers on lesser known, sometimes cheaper TV shows. Is there something of a stunt feel to this guarantee, not unlike the recent move by DailyMail.com to give away free ad space to brands that try buying ads through its automated channels?Perhaps. But this may be the sort of nudge the TV ad industry needs to change its ways.

"They know they are up against this titanic in the TV ad industry in terms of getting people to change the way they do things," said Tim Sullivan, vice president of media for The Wendy's Company. "So much of what Wendy's plans and buys when it comes to TV advertising is based on classic media benchmarks, like ratings and reach, and not business results," he said.

Wendy's has tested Simulmedia's services in the past, and is considering a buy using the guarantee option. "I like it," said Mr. Sullivan. "We plan on exploring this more. They must be pretty confident it will work if they are offering these kinds of terms."