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TV Media Planning Future of TV Digital

TV advertising isn’t dead – it just needs more effective strategies

By Gerrit Niemeijer, Chief technology officer

January 30, 2023 | 8 min read

Unifying the best brand-safe linear and digital strategies is the new advertising reality, argues Ampersand’s chief technology officer Gerrit Niemeijer.

Old school TV

/ Adobe Stock

In today’s advertising landscape, brands are increasingly looking to implement precision targeting across media buys to both maximize the value of their data investments and improve performance. To do this, marketers have been leaning on their digital teams to buy programmatic, addressable and connected TV (CTV) inventory. Audience targeting is driving these new buying tactics with buyers listing it as the number one reason why they are shifting budgets, according to data from Advertiser Perceptions and Premion.

But audience targeting cannot stand alone; inventory quality plays a crucial role in driving performance as well – and the place to find and capitalize on both is in a destination most digital-leaning advertisers wrote off years ago: TV.

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Focus TV budgets on content, not channels

The reasoning goes that linear TV is not accountable, it doesn’t drive results and nobody’s watching anymore – right? Well, not exactly.

Informed marketers tend to think of TV as linear and streaming together. They don't care how you consume ESPN or Bravo or NBC. If you happen to watch your favorite program in a live linear environment on your 4K OLED TV, or if you happen to watch it on demand on your new iPhone 14, from a marketing standpoint the common denominator isn’t necessarily the method or channel, or even about an exact device or the best screen. An effective campaign is about having a foot firmly rooted in quality, brand-safe, professionally produced content.

With that unique content connection comes the ability to deliver reach that's unrivaled for advertisers. By focusing on the channel instead of inventory quality, brands and advertisers could be making huge sacrifices including viewability and brand safety concerns.

Social platforms delved into the CTV realm to bolster ad revenue and meet advertiser demand for user-generated, snackable social media content. This shift in strategy by major social platforms will help transform the CTV landscape in some positive ways, but it will also change the inventory quality and outcome of the environment.

In fact, data from contextual advertising firm GumGum indicates that 75% of brands have been exposed to a brand safety incident in 2021 and 2022 – and 49% of consumers say their brand perception is negatively affected when it appears alongside offensive content, per research by Digital Turbine. User-generated content is susceptible to some serious brand-safety risks that advertisers don’t have to worry about from professionally produced TV content.

TV’s legacy strengths around content reach and engagement far outpace social platforms. Still, advertisers shouldn’t ignore learnings from social altogether. By not zeroing in on the latest social media marketing advancements, brands risk losing to competitors or missing desired audience segments. Digital and social channels have attributes that can make TV more competitive and better, which all comes down to data.

Utilize existing audience segments and digital strategies across traditional channels

Historically, TV has been planned and bought on a demographic-based breakdown. The traditional measurement has been how many rating points a campaign delivers against adults aged 25 to 54, for example, and that's it. Introducing better data, targeting and measurement in addition to valuable and ad-safe content that consumers can't get anywhere else is the best of both worlds.

Although programmatic, audience-based TV buying has a way to go, it has already come a long way. Several TV platforms and companies today enable precision targeting across linear, addressable and streaming inventory. Instead of solely leaning into CTV, brands should extend their existing first-party, third-party and high-value-audience segments across all of their buys, including linear, CTV and digital.

Quality of data matching matters

Telecom companies have affiliation agreements with distribution partners, and they’ve upgraded their distribution plans from analog architectures to rapidly increasing digital and cloud-based environments. Those improvements allow viewers to now watch TV on their phone, on-demand or anywhere. It has put the consumer in control of how, where and when to access their favorite content.

That technology, which has primarily been built to serve the customer in the distribution business, gives brands the ability to layer on better data to deliver ads more precisely, and haul back ad exposure data on a household level to be able to work in a privacy-compliant way with third-party measurement companies to assign attribution.

It also combats fake ad requests so that served ads are shown to actual human beings instead of sophisticated bots that perpetuate ad fraud. This is all based on authenticated subscriber-level data – rather than cookies or modeled data – so that brands can receive the maximum value from initial ad investments, drive better measurement and ultimately improve their optimization.

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Ensuring that brands and advertisers can transact on linear with an audience-based approach should remain a keystone of this strategy, even if linear remains the most difficult channel for implementing an audience-based strategy. It has historically relied on Nielsen GRPs – a semi-black box with metrics that don’t reveal the full story. Viewers are using 4.8 sources on average to view TV programming, but this means that it’s more important than ever to focus on providers that can deliver.

By working with partners at the top of the supply chain and focusing more on partner versus channel strategies, brands can increase their campaign value. This ultimately drives efficiency with lower rates for supply-side partnerships, more scale and more control over the content they air. If brands take a page out of the digital playbook about better data, better targeting and measurement, there’s an opportunity to compete more effectively in the marketplace than ever before.

Gerrit Niemeijer is chief technology officer at Ampersand.

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