Upfronts Show Advertisers Need To Lean Into Digital – Without Turning Their Backs on Linear

By Mark Mitchell, VP, Business Development, Xandr

As audiences across all demographics continue to shift from linear viewing toward long- and short-form digital video, the continued growth of streaming was front and center during this year’s upfront presentations. And major subscription-based platforms announced their plans to add an AVOD version to their offering.

But it can’t be ignored that the majority of TV spend will remain in linear for the 2022-2023 broadcast year.

For advertisers, this stark contrast between viewing behavior and ad-buying behavior emphasizes the importance of using both digital and TV in order to reach consumers where they engage with media.

Follow the viewers  

Consumers are moving more quickly to connected TV than marketers – eMarketer forecasts that 82.4% of the population will have a connected TV device in their home by the end of the year.

Digital video advertising grew 21% this year, with another 26% growth predicted next year, according to a recent study from the IAB. Most of this increase stems from the connected TV advertising market, which grew 57% in 2021 to reach $15.2 billion and is projected to continue growing at this pace.

Nevertheless, the IAB report found that while connected TV viewing now accounts for 36% of time spent with both linear and CTV, only 18% of video ad dollars are committed to the digital channel.

Most advertisers now realize the necessity of closing this gap by investing in CTV to reach consumers where they are. A key priority for advertisers will be identifying partners that understand the complexities of the video landscape and can help them overcome both perceived and real challenges that remain around measurement and attribution.

Capitalize on the opportunity to combine the best of TV and digital  

While increasing CTV investment may grab the headlines, savvy advertisers are also changing the way they approach buying linear TV.

Data-driven linear (DDL) is an advanced, audience-based way to buy linear TV, combining the precision of digital data sets and the scale of TV. DDL enables more precise targeting on TV that results in improved reach and ROI – delivering an average of 33% more audience-targeted impressions compared to standard demo targeting, according to Xandr internal data.

Despite the benefits of data-driven linear, many advertisers still use age and gender targeting, likely due to the misconception that buying more targeted audiences at scale on linear TV is too complex and time-consuming. In a survey conducted by Xandr, over 40% of marketers cited the effort required as a barrier to adopting data-driven linear.

The growth of DDL TV has also resulted in a growing appetite for alternative currency solutions among buyers and sellers that allow for more precise targeting and measurement. Ahead of the upfronts, several companies announced plans to test new data currencies. However, the ability to test and evaluate these solutions can be time-consuming and extensive without a platform that seamlessly activates preferred viewership or engagement data currency for DDL campaigns.

While DDL is still in its emergent phase, the approach should be a critical strategy employed by advertisers to get the highest return on linear TV investments. Luckily, technology has streamlined DDL buying at scale by providing the functionality needed to simplify planning, transacting and measuring campaigns.

By partnering with the right experts and deploying the right solution, advertisers can bypass perceived obstacles to adoption and capitalize on the full potential of audience targeting.

Advertisers need the right tech to bring data-driven precision across digital and linear

It’s clear that advertisers need to lean into the ongoing shift toward CTV, yet they cannot afford to turn their backs on the huge audiences that still exist within linear. The most successful advertisers are recognizing that these should not be positioned as opposing or disparate opportunities.

As we head into upfront negotiations, advertisers can build their competitive advantage by putting together the expert partners and technologies that enable a dual-channel approach – targeting linear and digital audiences with the same level of confidence, precision and data.


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