Programmatic TV: An Effective Medium For Driving Acquisition At A Startup

markkeeneyOn TV and Video” is a column exploring opportunities and challenges in programmatic TV and video.

Today’s column is written by Mark Keeney, vice president of marketing at Ritani.

When startups pass that critical inflection point from proof of concept to the scaling phase, TV is not often thought of as a potential advertising channel.

This is due in part to the method by which TV is purchased, which creates tremendous waste, and perhaps more importantly, because of a lack of tools for measurement. This has changed in the last several years with more firms approaching this “traditional” medium through the lens of digital and performance marketing.

Despite the real concerns around shifting of consumption patterns and platforms, TV still has tremendous reach and can be leveraged as a direct-response tool for marketers at startups beyond OxiClean and ShamWow.

Know Thy Customer

The greatest trap a marketer can fall into is either marketing to oneself, the advisory board or the management team.

The first task for a marketer at a startup should be to leverage whatever data they can access to truly understand who their audience is – and not just traffic sources but end purchasers.

They should leverage their current sales data first and dive into the various segments that make up their core. Match that up with current traffic and their behaviors while looking for similarities and deltas. Oftentimes, a “browser” is just that. Their level of influence on the end “shopper” may not be worth the costs of driving more of them.

Media Mix

Similar to a good investment portfolio, it’s important to keep the media mix diversified to insulate oneself from dips and headwinds, and to continually keep a flow of R&D within the marketing channels. Paid search is an extremely competitive space, and while valuable, it is far too risky to rely solely on this medium for driving acquisitions and elevating a brand.

Startup marketers should ensure they are diversified across the media landscape. Most importantly, they should have good measurement practices in place before adding TV to the mix. Not surprisingly, branded organic and paid search engine marketing, as well as direct traffic, will experience the greatest lift, so paid campaigns should not have low caps for branded terms.

Creative Execution And Alignment

Concurrent to diversifying and expanding one’s digital acquisition channels, it’s time for creative development of TV spots. Marketers should use the data surrounding their targets as the guide and to convince internal constituents to forget their preconceived ideas around what consumers will respond to.

Storytelling is important: Keep the story simple, with a clear message. Within this story, provide a compelling differentiator, such as why a service or product is better than alternatives, and ensure it is genuine. Ensure there is a clear call to action so the immediate response can be measured, such as via a web URL or app download. Try to avoid relying exclusively on vanity URLs. More often than not, a customer will navigate to a site directly.

Enter Programmatic

Next, by aligning these target audiences with the profiles of networks, shows and dayparts and overlaying the associated costs, it’s possible to develop the initial media plan. This is merely a starting point to provide a baseline.

Beyond elevating the brand, which can be measured by qualitative and quantitative research, look toward early indicators to discern the effectiveness of the initial plan. For example, by looking at site traffic within a time frame of each airing, the quality of traffic and the demographic makeup, one can ensure they are targeting the right audience at the right time.

Then, when taking this traffic cohort and inserting it into one’s overall attribution model, it’s possible to begin painting a picture of the true return or value of this medium. The desire for direct response will influence the types of programs where you advertise since you have to factor in the multitasking that nearly all Americans do while watching TV. For example, advertisers wanting an immediate site visit should steer clear of content that inspires binge consumption.

Similar to digital, this is a constant work in progress as marketers experiment with secondary targets, optimal dayparts, creative testing shifts in program consumption and seasonality. Despite the shifts in how consumers are absorbing TV, the relative scale far outpaces other mediums and can be approached in data-driven way that is similar to what digital marketers are accustomed to.

Follow Ritani (@Ritani) and AdExchanger (@adexchanger) on Twitter.

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