Non-Traditional Audiences Are Changing Linear TV

Author: Chris Faulkner.  Source: Adweek

Could GRPs and demographics become a thing of the past?The death of linear TV has been greatly exaggerated.

You’ve probably heard that line as much as you’ve read about digital’s growing dominance over TV. The truth is, it is not an either/or situation. It’s more of a both/and. Yes, linear TV is changing. Yes, digital is becoming the dominant ad platform for many brands. Yes, digital is transforming how advertisers approach their linear TV buys. And yes, TV is still one of the best performing ad platforms.

Here’s the thing about linear TV (a term we’ll use to distinguish traditional TV watching from over-the-top services and digital video viewing): It remains the gold standard for advertising reach and engagement. People still gather in the living room around the screen and enjoy a shared experience. This rich experience makes TV ideal for building brand awareness.

And now, through the use of rich data, TV buys are gaining even more power. Through data and digital executions, TV can be more targeted and measured just like digital. So, TV can now become part of a measurable cross-channel campaign that starts in the living room and ends at the cash register.

Consider all the ways linear TV is becoming digitally empowered.

Audiences, not demos

Age, gender and other demographics, along with gross ratings points, used to be the currency against which TV advertising was bought. You got a sense of the dominant viewership of a particular show—say women, 18-34—and bought that show with the promise that you’d be reaching that audience.

But today’s media buying focuses more on audiences than shows. Data can be used to identify the shows that fit with an advertiser-defined audience. For instance, a car company can define an audience as “families with young children in the market for a minivan” or “long-distance commuters looking for a hybrid vehicle” and then make their buys based on those audience parameters.

Third-party data can be crucial in helping advertisers zero in on those audiences. One particularly valuable data source is location intelligence, since it can map the offline consumer journey through real world actions such as: in-store visits, dwell time (time spent in-store) visit frequency, brand loyalty, cross-shopping and more.

Smart TV data

There is also more data available related to watching TV. Today, most smart TVs have a technology called automatic content recognition that allows them to understand what is on the screen and what is being watched. That data—which is anonymized (and collected from only opted-in users)—can be used to analyze the kind of content consumer segments are viewing as well as what ads they’re seeing.

This kind of data can ultimately become part of cross-channel campaign by aligning TV viewership with digital exposure. It’s possible to learn, for example, what specific ads a TV viewer was exposed to and then follow that viewer across all the various digital and real-world touchpoints to determine how the customer’s path to purchase may have gone from initial awareness to actual purchase.

This kind of data can be particularly useful for brands like retailers or restaurants that rely significantly on foot traffic. TV data and location-based targeting can be combined to connect TV and digital ad exposure to a consumers location. Did seeing a TV ad for a new menu item send them to the store? If not, could they be encouraged by a digital coupon or other offer? It is possible to not only buy ads related to foot traffic, but then use foot traffic to identify the impact of the particular ad.

Precision household targeting

As TV buys go beyond demographics, there are technologies that allow advertisers to target specific households with specific ads, regardless of the content. Addressable TV uses audience-level data to deliver ads to specific households via set-top boxes. Advertisers are able to identify the consumer segments most likely to purchase their product or service and then target them directly with ads. It essentially combines the benefits of TV’s engagement with the pinpoint accuracy of digital targeting.

For many advertisers, addressable TV’s power comes when it is combined with digital to create a cross-channel campaign. For example, an ad can be delivered to a household watching a live sporting event on TV, and then additional messaging can take place on a sports app on the viewer’s phone as they’re checking stats related to the game. This kind of multiplatform targeting can get additional power when it is combined with location data, perhaps directing the viewer to a specific local store that has a special on the item being advertised.

Closing the loop with measurement

The power of all audience targeting is its ability to follow the customer journey and identify the moments that lead to an actual purchase. TV advertising is now much more efficient because it is able to leverage location data, sales data and other digital and real-world signals. These new types of innovative data sources moves TV away from being simply an awareness and branding tool and into the realm of performance measurement.

Footfall attribution—using location data to see actual real-world behavior of people exposed to an ad—gives TV marketers the ability to not just set up advance audiences but see how they take action. With all these new audience targeting capabilities and measurement tools ­– TV can now address marketers most pressing questions. Did consumers who saw your beer ad actually purchase a case? Did the messaging for your store’s holiday specials send people into the aisles? TV exposure can now be measured where it means the most for brands and marketers—at the cash register.