The Year of Advanced TV: How (and Why) Marketers Can Embrace the Opportunity

4C Insights_Logo_NewAdvanced TV and all that it encompasses – programmatic TV, addressable TV, connected TV, linear audience targeting, set-top box video on demand, interactive TV and even second-screen syncing – is coming into its own in 2018, and the benefits to marketers are substantial. And the word seems to be out: Per Forrester Research, more than 50 percent of marketers are likely to include Advanced TV buys in their schedule this year. That said, despite investment intentions, many marketers still struggle with the definition of Advanced TV, as well as what it takes to move into this realm as an advertiser.

As noted in the first part of this series, Advanced TV is how we describe this converged state of media in 2018. Data is at the center of most Advanced TV definitions, but technology also plays a major role in the evolution of television advertising. Technology is increasingly being applied to speed up execution and management for both buyers and sellers. In the near term, the success of true cross-media Advanced TV advertising will depend on blending old and new: software, data, processes and organizations across brands, agencies, media sellers and technology partners.

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Preparing for the Age of Advanced TV

So how does one approach Advanced TV? There’s a lot to explore and understand, so it’s understandable that the concept might seem a bit daunting for traditional television advertisers. The good news is that Advanced TV is still anchored in one of marketing’s most mature channels, and many of the tried-and-true best practices of television advertising still apply.

For those unsure where to start, the most impactful way to implement an Advanced TV strategy is to infuse data into the entire linear buying process from the start. This means applying advanced data targeting to focus ad buys on the areas in TV that deliver the highest concentrations and reach of an intelligently targeted audience.

Recent research finds that 52% of marketers say that the industry reliance on traditional measurement is the main factor keeping them from including TV in cross-channel campaigns. New advancements in the automation of TV ad targeting and measurement have introduced efficiencies for both buyers and sellers—efficiencies that should translate into lower costs and fees for what has traditionally been a manual process. If advertisers are going to make the operationalization changes required to succeed with Advanced TV, they will want to know that there’s a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. That means that marketers should start with audience intelligence, optimize the bid price on impressions that reach that audience, and maintain an infrastructure to measure the effectiveness of those impressions.

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Moving Beyond Basic Demographics

Outside of the potential cost efficiencies, the element of Advanced TV that seems to really resonate best with television advertising veterans is the ability to target deterministic audiences beyond the well-worn parameters of geography, age, and gender demographics. For decades, advertisers have targeted these limited age and gender demos (e.g., women aged 18-49) as a proxy for the real consumers they are trying to reach.

A video game retailer might have research that shows males 18-25 are an important group to target. Under the traditional linear TV model, the TV buying team would look for opportunities to advertise within programming that has a strong component of that demo. However, with Advanced TV, brands can simply target video game enthusiasts using data within planning tools and then evaluate inventory based on this audience, not a demo. Using this new approach, a brand wouldn’t miss all of the women and older male consumers who also are passionate gamers and potential customers.

In the age of Advanced TV, the advertisers that will have the most success are those that develop a clear understanding of their target audience by using data-driven algorithms that are far more nuanced than traditional TV buying parameters, while applying similar technology to optimize the price they pay to reach that audience. Those advertisers with strong first-party data assets will be a step ahead of the game in leveraging these new capabilities.

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Uncovering the Data That Drives Success

Although most television advertisers agree that they could be using advanced audience data in their approach, many simply don’t know where to start. That includes addressing the very basics of data availability and moving on to developing evaluation criteria and budget for acquiring and activating that data as part of the TV buying process. Getting familiar with data is going to be part of every television advertiser’s job very soon. As such, it makes sense for TV buyers to forge a close alliance with their digital teams, which have been dealing in granular audience targeting and first-party data for decades.

Psychologist Bruce Tuckman famously coined the stages of development that enable a team to come together and begin to deliver results. Those stages are: forming, storming, norming and performing. For Advanced TV to finally progress into the “norming” and then the “performing” stages, the biggest market force – marketers themselves – must demand progress. They need new industry standards, confidence in proven tactics, and trust in emerging industry leaders across identity, data and analytics.

This shift is right around the corner. The industry is currently witnessing a dramatic shift from age- and gender-based buying to audience-driven and addressable buying for TV. As mentioned, more than half of advertisers are already testing Advanced TV in 2018. In the next three to five years, a majority of advertisers will be regularly transacting on their true audience targets rather than content proxies.

That said, there are still some things that need to happen for Advanced TV to scale. The technology needs to evolve, the inventory needs to be more readily available, and certainly, the education gap needs to close for today’s television advertisers to get to a comfort level with all of these new things before they can fully invest. As the AT&T/Time Warner deal moves forward, these gaps should quickly begin to close.

Indeed, Advanced TV seems to be an inevitability. With all market shifts, it’s the groups that get in early – before the sharp curve – that will be most prepared when the time comes.

Author’s note: Stay tuned for the third and final part of this series on Advanced TV, in which we’ll discuss the new forms of data that are fueling Advanced TV.

Also Read: Mastering Customer Experience in the Era of the Empowered Consumer

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