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April 7th, 2021

It's Time to Bring TV Advertising into the Digital Age. Are You Ready?

Can we call Ginny & Georgia (on Netflix) or Star Trek: Picard (on Paramount+) "TV shows?" Technically, these series have nothing to do with television. The traditional sort, that is. But viewers today don't care whether the content they're watching comes from linear TV, OTT or streaming platforms.

Streaming is now mainstream, and it's all TV to them.

But while viewers have made the leap into the future, TV advertising isn't quite there yet. Thankfully, new breakthroughs in TV measurement and TV attribution models can help close the gap.

What's the problem with TV advertising today?

Cathode ray tubes are a thing of the past, but many brands and their agencies still think in terms of TV-vs-digital campaigns. For them, TV is for the top of the funnel, digital for the bottom. TV is long-term, digital short-term. TV is for reach, digital for targeting.

The industry has long decried the use of generic demographic groups like 'persons 25-54' or 'women 18-49,' and yet those are the very audiences that large advertisers continue to buy at the upfronts each year. 

The upfronts are a futures market where buyers and sellers essentially use past ratings to predict success up to one year down the line. In today’s volatile environment, most national advertisers find themselves scrambling with imperfect make-good arrangements when reality invariably fails to meet expectations. The whole thing was rigid and inefficient at the best of times, but the pandemic really exposed the cracks in the system. 

Aren't networks offering more bundled packages this year?

There's been some pressure on TV companies to bring all of their properties (linear, OTT and streaming) under the same umbrella, offer more bundled advertising deals to their clients, and add more flexible cancellation options to those deals.

That sounds like a good thing on the surface, and it certainly was a helpful stopgap strategy in 2020, but it also perpetuates the narrative that OTT and streaming are only extensions of linear TV, and that one need only tweak the old TV advertising model to unlock the full potential of all the new digital platforms. That's a very narrow view of the future of television advertising.

Neustar and iSpot.TV have partnered to offer another perspective: TV advertising should now be fashioned after digital advertising, not the other way around. In a new, joint report: "The Future of TV is Now - Accelerating the Digital Transformation of TV Advertising", we look at the current state of affairs and explore how TV attribution models might be combined with digital attribution to provide marketers with a holistic view of advertising effectiveness.

To break out of the mold and lay the groundwork for a sustainable future for TV advertising, the report outlines how brands, and the media companies they work with, need to embrace these four key principles:

1) View TV as an identity-based digital channel

With third-party cookies and mobile ad IDs on their last legs, the digital marketing ecosystem is fast transitioning to identity-based solutions. Television, in all its forms, needs to be fully integrated into that new ecosystem.

Identity is not simply a replacement for cookies and other identifiers. It allows marketers to finally be transparent with their data collection efforts, and to develop relationships with their customers that are based on trust and a clear value exchange.

2) Adopt agile marketing principles

If the radical consumer shifts that happened during the pandemic aren't a clear call to action for companies to embrace agile marketing, I don't know what is. Commitments to buy media months in advance and 60-day cancellation windows are completely out of step with current market realities.

Agile marketing represents a cultural shift for most organizations. It can be a challenge for companies where separate teams or agencies handle national TV, local TV, connected TV, digital video, and the myriad of other channels in their marketing mix. But agility is absolutely essential to meet the needs of today’s marketplace.

3) Take TV measurement beyond impressions

Performance on linear TV, OTT and streaming platforms is often measured using different metrics, at different intervals, through different data providers, and with little consideration for audience overlap and frequency capping.

It's also often limited to impressions. But there are many other ways to measure campaign performance: attention, for instance, or shifts in brand sentiment, and of course store visits and sales further down the path to purchase. Viewer-level data is finally making it possible for TV advertisers to move past GRPs and measure real business outcomes.

4) Integrate TV attribution models into your omnichannel strategy

When TV attribution models first emerged, they focused on making the case for TV as a standalone channel. But with millions of connected TVs in the market now, and with identity to bridge the gap between TV exposures and the rest of the advertising universe, marketers can start to integrate TV attribution into larger multi-touch attribution (MTA) models.

With MTA, marketers are able to see the big picture and orchestrate true omnichannel campaigns. They can figure out who to target, where, how often, in what order, and adjust their media budgets along the way. And when it's combined with longer-term planning solutions like marketing mix modeling, MTA can open the door to a much more efficient advertising ecosystem. It’s high time for that ecosystem to include television.

The future of TV is now

This is not a vision for a distant future. Targeting on TV has already advanced to the point where brands can match first-party customer IDs to TV households, and identify when and where specific segments are tuning in. Marketers today can demand more accountability from the media companies they work with, and those media companies have the granular data they need to justify higher CPMs. 

And Star Trek fans can expect to see more relevant ads with better-controlled frequency. Everybody wins.

Want to boldly go where no one has gone before? Download "The Future of TV is Now - Accelerating the Digital Transformation of TV Advertising" to accelerate the digital transformation of your TV advertising.

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