Driven by Data – The Future of TV Advertising

TV advertising is stuck between a rock and well, a dark place, with year-over-year spending down. It’s certainly not dead, but, compared to other forms of digital media, which is seeing a 19% increase in ad spend, TV is lagging behind. But not for long.

Because of it’s digital counterparts, such as mobile, social, video, banners and email, TV advertising is experiencing a rebirth of sorts, and the opportunity to take advantage of fast developing, data-driven advanced media practices. By combining the best from traditional TV media planning and buying with advancements in audience targeting and campaign measurement, TV advertising is at a pivotal turning point – for the better.

“Advertising has been shifting for a while, and now we’re at an inflection point for TV. It’s time to ask, “How can we do this better?” Hosana Thomas, Product Marketing Manager for Adobe Advertising Cloud says.

“There is a huge opportunity to emulate what we call “digital” strategies across TV, with such valuable data that advertisers now have access to. The idea is not to completely change the way we do business overnight, but to look at the tools and technologies that are available and apply them to the way that TV ad buys and audience targeting are done,” Hosana states.

To remove the silos of devices and look at the audience holistically, Hosana suggests honing in on who customers are, what they care about and how you can deliver an optimal ad experience to them.

Where we stand

Since the first television advertisement for Bulova Watch Co. aired in 1941, during a Brooklyn Dodgers vs. Philadelphia Phillies game, TV has been the prime destination for advertisers to reach their audience at scale. Brands created cultural relevance while impacting and influencing customer behavior.

That still holds true today – a 2018 report by Nielsen found that traditional forms of media are still popular with U.S. audiences, even with the popularity of non-ad supported content like Netflix. In fact, live and time-shifted TV viewing still account for 43% of time spent consuming video or “TV-like” content.

But it’s beginning to show its age. A recent study showed that 27% of demographically desirable viewers (adults aged 18-49), are going elsewhere. Networks like Fox, CBS, NBC and ABC have seen a year-over-year loss of around 845,000 viewers per night.

“This form of television we’ve watched all our lives is still one of the most impactful ways to engage with a brand,” Hosana says. “At the end of the day, the most lean-in audience experience is still me sitting at home watching TV, but it won’t stay that way if TV advertisers don’t adapt.”

TV ad targeting is way behind digital media

TV Advertisers still use the antiquated tools they’ve used forever – defining audiences simply by age and gender, without fully understanding the actual audience, Hosana says.

Even as the premium environment for advertisers to reach audiences at scale, ad planning and buying tactics across television haven’t evolved from methods that are decades old – from buying inventory that isn’t needed or wanted, to not having the ability to manage or control frequency of ads, while relying on out-of-date documents to measure and gain insights.

For TV advertising to truly have a cemented place in the future, advertisers must consider the user first – leveraging available data and delivering more relevant ads that yield better performance, while also truly delivering great experiences. Providing offers, information or entertainment to the right audience at the right time, in the right context.

“Advertisers and brands have so much digital data about their consumer – they know what they’ve bought in the past, how they’ve interacted with the brand online. But so far, we’ve seen no real industry changes. It’s surprising, but also opens up a lot of opportunity for progress and impact,” Hosana reports.

The pivot towards data-driven TV advertising

Digital marketers know a lot about their target audiences – tracking real-time responses to ads, their visits, purchases and email open rates. They adjust their media buys and frequencies as fast as their media targets’ tastes and preferences change.

“Data enables you to minimize waste and provide more precise targeting while looking at audiences holistically,” Hosana says.

“Advertisers should be able to look at their target consumers and understand the most effective way to do that – find the optimal path to deliver an ad and do it effectively; see the customer beyond just a screen or a medium and be able to understand the consumption behavior.”

Automating TV advertising and using rich, first-party data to run targeted campaigns, will help advertisers reach more niche demographics, as well as consumers that have previously interacted with the brand online, purchased in the past, or even interacted with a competitor in the space and is ripe for conversion.

Embracing data-driven practices is key to TV advertising maintaining relevance and reinforcing the strong brand-building capabilities in an advertiser’s arsenal.

What’s to come

Steps are being taken to modernize how ad spots on TV are targeted, delivered and measured.

“Brands who don’t embrace targeted and personalized TV advertising risk being left behind. They may lose touch with their consumer or lose the opportunity for TV to continue to be an effective way to reach people”, Hosana says.

“Brands aren’t investing in digital simply because smaller screens are more effective – they’re doing it because they have more tools to measure the impact and deliver more relevancy.”

Television publishers are taking note. Fox, Viacom and Turner launched the first broadcaster-led initiative for cross-publisher audience targeting and independent measurement in 2017. NBCUniversal offers advertisers the ability to programmatically access their inventory via software, giving advertisers more control and allowing them to buy the inventory they want, on an as-needed basis without settling for anything that’s not necessary.

This level of control is both new and needed.

Adobe Advertising Cloud gives advertisers the ability to focus on using data and automation. Partnering with large media brands such as NBCUniversal to integrate data and automated inventory partnerships and Nielsen Nation TV ratings gives media buyers the ability to measure ad effectiveness better.

“Adobe Advertising Cloud enables brands to have a better understanding of their audience with granular data and insights to determine how to make the right buy to reach the right audience, and then assess the impact it had,” says Hosana.

Poor customer experiences turn audiences away. If this trend continues, viewers will go to ad-free platforms to consume TV content.

Hosana says that we need to get the point in the industry that the right ad is delivered to the right person in a way that isn’t obtrusive or invasive, while also allowing advertisers to measure their impact.

For more on the future of TV Advertising, click here to read “An Advertiser’s Guide to Data-Driven, Advanced TV”.