The Next Evolution of Data-Driven TV Targeting
While traditional TV is still king, we as marketers are keenly aware of the major shifts that have occurred — and continue to occur — in people’s TV consumption habits. These days, the definition of TV has broadened. TV is everywhere on every screen, from families’ living room screens to kids’ iPads, and brands must be able to find their audiences wherever and whenever they’re watching.
The concept of addressable TV advertising dates back more than a decade, and it’s been a game-changer ever since its origination. However, it’s also a fast-moving target when it comes to reach and capabilities. Let’s look at where we stand today and where we can expect the continued divergence of TV technologies and advanced targeting to take us in the coming years.
TV Targeting Today
The technological evolution of TV has opened new opportunities for targeted, more personalized marketing, but it’s also created a good deal of fragmentation across platforms and processes. So how does the industry keep up when it comes to sound research methodologies and blending multiple platforms with varying data points to create valid, viable, and successful marketing campaigns?
It’s complicated, and it can seem overwhelming, but it helps to start with a high-level view of the various ways to reach consumers, each of which provides a unique edge:
- TV: We all know the power of TV — that big screen with the big impact. It has the power to drive brand awareness and influence consumers as they watch. It offers significant scale, proven to drive customer growth, generate search spikes, and help move customers down the sales funnel.
- Digital: The power of digital viewership, often occurring on personal devices, lies in its immediacy, as well as its automated capabilities and data-driven standards.
- OTT and VOD: Meanwhile, viewership via over-the-top (OTT) and video-on-demand has exploded in recent years. Since OTT and VOD take a page from both the TV and digital playbooks, it’s become a bridge to help fast-track improvements in the TV targeting arena.
Although TV has always been the most impactful marketing platform, it historically fell behind others in one key aspect: the use of data for targeting and measurement. But in recent years, TV has taken cues from digital and made great progress in its application of data for improved audience addressability.
These days, brands can leverage their first- and third-party data for targeting audiences across TV, digital, OTT, and VOD. Marketers can inform their media plans using set-top box viewing data and target at the household level with addressable technology. They can likewise measure the effectiveness of campaigns by matching census-level viewing data to first- and third-party conversion data across platforms and then leverage these insights to inform future campaigns.
Remaining Challenges and New Opportunities
While data-driven targeting for TV has come a long way and is already full of opportunities for media buyers, challenges in the space still exist. One example is in the form of data walled gardens, in which certain data are accessible only for the platform on which they are going to run. These walled gardens can limit marketers’ access to key data points when it comes to understanding the audiences they’ve reached and the full impact of their campaigns. Similarly, when working across platforms, not all of a brand’s partners are likely to have access to the same data sets. In addition, while custom segments are becoming more common, they may be slow to ingest and propagate.
That said, with challenge comes opportunity, and our industry is continuing to take strides in addressing current limitations in TV targeting. For example, data partners are helping bridge the gap by being the passthrough among platforms, and more platforms are becoming integrated over time. Advanced device graphs are becoming more comprehensive, and advertisers are becoming more accepting of mixed data sources that span IP data, mobile ad IDs, device IDs and others. Meanwhile, new data sources such as automatic content recognition (ACR) data are helping to fill in tune-in data for digital platforms that were typically reserved for TV.
With all of this in play, the ability to identify and target audiences across TV platforms will become more streamlined as time goes on. As it does, the distinct superpowers of TV and digital will cease to be distinct, as audiences everywhere will be addressable at scale.