For several years, we’ve been reticent to encourage clients to invest big bucks in television ads because the audience simply isn’t narrow enough to make the return on investment — which is often quite low after you factor in production overhead and distribution costs — worthwhile. While television was once a premium medium for advertisers thanks to high levels of viewer engagement, we have seen a sharp decline in effectiveness because viewers can easily tune out commercials when content isn’t relevant to them by turning their attention to their mobile phones, tablets, or laptops. For the digital marketer, this was an opportunity to prove why relevant and timely content is so important … and cash in along the way. For media distributors, it was nearly a death sentence.
The good news is that many major television companies have been aware of this issue and actively seeking ways to revitalize one of the most hallowed marketing channels in history. This spring, Viacom, Fox Networks Group, and Time Warner Cable finally came up with a viable solution. Instead of banking on the few big-ticket commercial opportunities to keep their coffers afloat (think: multi-million dollar placements during the Super Bowl), they have banned together to help small- and medium-sized businesses affordably reach their target audience.
Together, they launched, “OpenAP” – a new data platform that aggregates information from a variety of providers so advertisers can securely and collaboratively place ads within desirable demographics. Think: first-time home buyers, urban couples, pet owners, and more. Executive Vice President of Data Strategy for Viacom, Bryson Gordon explained the vision to Media Village in a recent interview: “It’s about the secure sharing of those consistent audience segments across publishers. The advertiser or the agency will be able decide who can see the segment and how it gets shared with the publisher before activating it across their inventory. It also gives the individual networks the independence to use their own proprietary datasets in conjunction with industry accepted measurement services, such as Nielsen and comScore.”
His vision is important for two main reasons.
First and foremost, it makes television advertising relevant again. For example, CNN historically runs advertisements focused on Baby Boomers because this generation comprises the majority of their viewership. Young professionals watching the news while getting ready for work yawn through advertisements for retirement planning, bladder control medication, and 55+ residential communities. The network’s blanket approach to advertising makes it easy for one of the most valuable, growing sources of disposable income in the market to simply tune out. OpenAP makes it possible to tailor these ads so Baby Boomers still enjoy relevant content, without alienating new or emerging demographics. Targeted content for targeted segments finally makes television advertising relevant for the individual, not the majority.
Second, because networks can merge their own data with shared data and link to other measurement tools, television ads will be measurable in a new and important way. Because advertisers previously had to rely on the “spray and pray” model when exposing content on television, it was hard to quantify how effective an advertisement really was because only a fraction of viewers might actually represent qualified leads. By limiting exposure and tracking performance, planning and measurement will naturally improve.
This is one of the first exciting breakthroughs the television ad space has seen in years, and it perfectly complements our belief that the future of customer-centric marketing hinges on a robust and choiceful cross-channel marketing approach. We’re excited to see TV getting back in the game and are here to help you craft your first segmented, trackable television ad. Get in touch with our media and strategy teams to learn more!