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TV’s role as a modern-day marketing channel

Kevin O'Reilly, chief strategy officer, TVSquared, looks at where TV sits in the ever-changing media landscape

Remember when watching TV meant gathering in the living room at a set time to watch your favourite shows? It’s a far cry from today’s TV-audience experience. While there is no shortage of content, numerous device and platform options let viewers access what they want, when they want, where they want. Add digital-viewing platforms and second screening into the mix, and the complexity of the media ecosystem is clear.

This evolution has led to a storm raging within the advertising industry. Digital laid claim to improved targeting and measurement, and many campaign budgets swung its way. But when brand safety issues came to light, a lack of control within the digital supply chain resulted in some of the world’s biggest brands returning to TV. In fact, trust in traditional media, such as TV and print, actually rose by 13 per cent in 2017.

In the wake of these changes, where does TV fit? While TV is now a performance-driven channel – able to be measured and optimised in real time – what does the future hold for TV in a rapidly evolving media landscape?

Driving digital

Close to 90 per cent of TV viewers watch with second screen devices in-hand or nearby. This, in turn, has led to TV becoming a major driver of digital activity. Google even found that close to two-thirds of TV viewers turn to search to learn more about what they saw on TV.

Rather than working in silos, advertisers are increasingly looking at TV and digital as complementary channels – with TV campaigns designed to drive consumers into the digital funnel. This is especially true for TV and search.

In the US alone, search and TV ad spend accounts for $111 billion. Advertisers are increasingly making TV and search work together. One example is through syncing TV spots with paid search. This ensures that a brand has the top search position in the minutes after a TV spot airs, taking advantage of high-interest moments, increasing click-through rates, and maximising TV-driven response.

Targeting audiences

In the past, advertisers relied on TV for its reach. And while reach is certainly still important, data-driven technologies have brought a level of precision never before available to TV. No, I am not talking about addressable, which is still in its early days with limited inventory and high pricing. Rather, advertisers are not waiting for addressable to come to maturity – they’re using their own data for laser-focussed targeting with TV.

Broadcasters have learnt lessons from the digital platforms, and are now making use of their data assets to find identifiers for understanding viewing habits and targeting audiences. Combining TV spot performance data with audience response information provides valuable insight that can be used to inform more targeted buys for optimal results.

TV is enjoying an explosion of sophisticated targeting capabilities. Combine this with its trusted environment and engaging content, and it offers a winning formula for brands.

Measuring the right KPIs

Traditionally, TV has been measured based on reach and frequency metrics – things like ratings, GRP or CRM. While these types of measurements have a role to play, they never actually tell advertisers how spots drove response in the real world.

Using the plethora of data now available, advertisers are measuring TV through brand-specific, performance-based KPIs. While these are unique to every advertiser, what they have in common is the fact that they all link campaign performance to business impact.

With the right technology, an advertiser can easily measure a sale that is directly due to TV. For lower-consideration products, this is pretty straightforward. For higher-consideration purchases, where the resulting sale may take several weeks or months, intent-based metrics can be used to tie the spot to the action. For instance, a car manufacturer might measure more middle-of-the-funnel activities such as “find a dealer” or “book a test drive.”

A few years ago, advertisers might not think these type of middle-of-the-funnel activities would carry any monetary value. But actions that lead to sales, whether right away or weeks down the line, are quantifiable and excellent indicators of TV performance.

Making the most of AI

In reality, Artificial Intelligence (AI) is really nothing new for marketers. It’s been used for things like real-time creative optimisation, bidding, Facebook’s customer-propensity modelling, etc. What is changing, however, is how AI is being used for TV.

The richness of available first- and third-party data, combined with the right analytical technologies is taking TV AI to the next level. We’re seeing AI and machine learning being leveraged for marketing mix modelling (MMM) and machine-to-machine driven TV buying. Planners are using it to create multiple TV plans in minutes (where it used to take days or weeks) and comparing them to see which will actually perform best in the real world.

The advancement of technology is once again changing the TV industry – that is evident. But the medium has kept up with this evolution and is holding its own as a dynamic and powerful part of the modern-day media mix.