The Drum Awards for Marketing - Entry Deadline

-d -h -min -sec

Media CTV Agency

We used to joke about the potential of TV advertising – then it evolved

By Cara Lewis |

September 6, 2021 | 6 min read

Cara Lewis, executive vice-president, head of US media investment at Dentsu, talks us through the big steps TV ad buying has seen in recent years. She discusses how to enter the medium in a more data-driven era.


The future of advertising we only dreamed about has now arrived / Photo by Chauhan Moniz on Unsplash

When I started buying TV commercials, cable networks were still progressing, and the internet was just a destination for information. It was the very early days of search, and the future vision of the internet being a destination for premium content that could air dog food commercials in front of dog owners was something we laughed about at lunches (remember when we had time to go on work lunches?).

Fast forward to today, and not only do we target what kind of dog owner a consumer is, we can target at scale across digital and TV platforms while also determining if that ad delivered a business outcome. Those lunchtime laughs proved to be real life, and have shaped our future state.

With significant innovations being refined in today’s evolving marketplace, these four concepts are revolutionizing the way we think about buying TV.

1. Consumers are in the driver’s seat

The landscape is fragmented, and there are thousands of entry points for consumers to view content.

They view content simply when and where they want it – they are no longer tuning into those popular Thank Goodness It’s Thursday (TGIT) airings at 8pm every week. This all started with the DVR. Then there was VOD and FEP (full episode player), and now it’s CTV and OTT. The fear that DVRs would kill advertising in fact revolutionized how brands can advertise.

We, as marketers, need to find consumers on their time and in their places. It’s how we will be able to keep up with them.

2. The appropriate use of data reaffirms the adverting/content paradigm

The habits of a consumer have proven the need to use the correct data, platforms and buying mechanisms to reach them at scale.

Using data beyond age/sex behind your TV media buys and planning and buying from a video standpoint (not just TV) allows marketers to reach consumers more effectively. First, you find the content by using the data. Then you find the mechanism to reach them while lastly allowing the data/personalization to provide an outcome. For example, we know from some case studies that buying heavy linear television only reaches a small portion of our audiences today while not reaching, on average, 20% of the audience – and an over frequency of 53x to 8% of the audience.

At Dentsu, we built DELTA, a proprietary platform for data-enabled linear TV activation, to allow us to reach consumers more effectively by using audience data to drive our media spend versus legacy behaviors that have waste. Paired with M1, Dentsu’s people-based media insights, planning and measurement platform, we are moving beyond investment informed by demographics.

3. The effective relationship of partners to platforms

Our business is built on trusted partnerships, and those partnerships are important and won’t disappear; however, as buyers we need to think about how technology can ensure we are reaching audiences effectively.

By using platforms, we can serve ads when and where consumers intend to purchase a product, download an app and head to a dealership based on where they are in the purchase funnel, and more efficiently land impressions that count. Critically, we can measure results.

4. A cheap CPM does not equal success – business growth does

Buying against a cheap CPM ensures cost efficiency, but offers no guarantees to reach an audience that intends to purchase a product, download an app or head to a dealership. However, if we look to business outcomes and other currencies, we will reach our audiences more effectively.

We can do this today by using data to drive decisions that use third parties to track traffic – tracking against viewability and much more. Buying with the consumer at the center and allowing the front and back end to kick out an outcome proves the power of addressability.

A legacy view shows that TV ratings are fragmented and trending down. A modern view says consumers have been empowered and through new content distribution channels are watching more TV than ever before. The collision of content, distribution, data and technology has given buyers the opportunity to change the marketplace.

We can deliver targeted ads, in appropriate content, to an engaged customer, and from there we can measure how well those ads worked. And the best news – we can do this now. We aren’t laughing anymore. We’re ready, are you?

Media CTV Agency

More from Media

View all


Industry insights

View all
Add your own content +