Why brands want TV to be both more and less like digital

Why brands want TV to be both more and less like digital

Giles Cottle, Thu 16 May 2019

Advanced advertising: What about the brands?

We have blogged a lot about advertising and particularly data-driven advanced advertising from the perspective of the sell side, looking at how networks and MVPDs can use data to better position themselves and their ad sales efforts. But in the maelstrom of new TV ad-related technology, data, products and services, brands and advertisers can sometimes get lost in the mix. This is, of course, imprudent, because brands and advertisers are the ones funding this market, and any market needs buyers and sellers to be satisfied to be functioning. We will only realize this vision of data-driven TV if advertisers buy into all of the innovations the sell side is providing.

So what do advertisers want from advanced TV advertising? At Dativa we talk a lot about how we help buyers and sellers to make their TV advertising more like digital, by making it more measurable and targetable. This is definitely part of the answer about what buyers want, but not the whole answer. We think the buy- and sell-side want TV to be more like digital in different ways; in some ways, the sell side doesn't want TV to be more like digital at all.

Take pricing. Targeting a smaller or niche audience on TV that has interacted with your brand, or is interested in your product, is a no-brainer, but the sell-side will place a premium on this. Inevitably there will be a coming together on where this premium should be set, but this is really a data question, as well as a pricing question. If the buy-side can find dayparts or networks that over-index against their target audience that they can buy addressably, but that would have been traditionally priced low, they are going to want to pay based on what the seller thinks the inventory is worth, not what it is worth to them. This is definitely one area where buyers would much rather TV was like digital, which has seen a race to the bottom, price-wise, over the past decade, than buyers.

Measurability is another touchpoint. When a customer sees an ad from a brand on Facebook, they will have a very different user experience than they will from watching Television. TV companies have argued that it is easy to miss Facebook or other digital ads as they don't dominate the screen, whereas Television ads do, and the continued bull case for TV advertising is that if 5 million people were exposed to an ad, then 5 million people saw the ad.

Of course, this is not always true – some people will be looking at their phones, or have the volume down, or will go out to make coffee or take the garbage out. This kind of activity is picked up by Nielsen, which tracks when viewers leave the room in its people meter markets, but the types of big datasets that are fuelling addressable campaigns do not. For attribution use cases this is less of an issue, but for a branding campaign, buyers are likely to want to know if someone has seen their ad.

User experience - but not like that

Finally, there's user experience - but not in the way you are thinking about. A study last year of marketers talked about the concept of user experience in media not from a viewer or consumer perspective, but from a marketer perspective. It concluded that TV has a user experience problem amongst marketers. Marketers know TV works, and they know that if they spend X on it, they will get a return of Y in terms of sales, uplift, brand awareness or whatever KPI they are tracking. But TV is a black box. They know it works, but they don't know "how" it works, and it contrasts starkly with digital, which is involved from a marketing perspective, and demonstrates its value from planning to evaluation, and at all points in between.

This is something TV needs to get much better at, especially as it starts to move into attribution or outcome-based campaigns. It's also a nice reminder that even though more and more buying decisions are algorithmically made, it is still humans that first decide to use those algorithms, and then write them in the first place. Facebook, Google et al have been extremely successful not just on data and technology, but on the non-technical skill of explaining and demonstrating its value to the human beings who make these decisions. TV execs know they have work to do on the first of these areas, but as a generation of marketers raised on social media rise to positions of prominence in buying organizations, they're going to have to spend more time on the second of these areas, too.

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Dativa is a global consulting firm providing data consulting and engineering services to companies that want to build and implement strategies to put data to work. We work with primary data generators, businesses harvesting their own internal data, data-centric service providers, data brokers, agencies, media buyers and media sellers.

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