Traditional TV: The Next Emerging Device

kamakshi-updated-tvvideoOn TV And Video” is a column exploring opportunities and challenges in programmatic TV and video.

Today’s column is written by Kamakshi Sivaramakrishnan, founder and CEO at Drawbridge.

When we think of “emerging devices,” images of smartwatches and quirky Internet-of-Things devices typically come to mind.

With omnichannel marketing and multitouch attribution becoming more commonplace, however, there’s one device that’s suddenly becoming a more meaningful channel for marketers than ever before: the traditional linear television.

For marketers, traditional TV’s potential is as large today as it was in television’s golden era when commercial breaks were popularized during regular programming. So forget that Wi-Fi coffee pot – I see the traditional TV as the industry’s next emerging device.

Even amid the acceleration of cord-cutting, the marketers I talk to say that TV won’t soon be disappearing as part of their mix. Many are hopeful that TV will soon be a more measurable, complementary way to reach consumers. And for those without TV in their plans, I don’t think it will be long before they add TV to a mix that may also include personal computers, mobile devices and other emerging devices, such as connected TVs and soon smartwatches.

The pattern of decline in traditional long-form television consumption, paired with the rise in short-form digital content consumed across many channels, continues to drive ad dollars away from TV and into digital, specifically mobile. Having said that, TV has always been a “safe buy” for marketers, and making TV more targetable and measurable will make it ever safer. I’m not predicting the death of TV, but as its audience and ad dollars erode, it’s time for marketers to take a fresh approach.

By syncing a linear television to a consumer or group of consumers in a household, it represents another device on which to reach consumers, as well as assign credit to for leading a consumer to a purchase. Since we still consume more than a third of our content from television, this is a major opportunity for brands to tie their marketing efforts together.

Today’s marketers are adopting marketing tactics that increasingly focus on consumers and their purchase paths. At the very simplest, this means reaching a consumer on mobile who was previously visiting their website from a desktop, or vice versa. Once the link is made between traditional TV and digital devices, the TV becomes another channel in which to deliver relevant messages based on what is known about a consumer from their actions on mobile and desktop. With consumers spending fewer hours in front of the TV, it will ultimately be more cost effective for marketers to adopt these smarter techniques for the big screen. And because it’s another connected device, the reach on TV becomes more impactful, as well as measurable.

Brands want robust measurement capabilities so they can analyze return on ad spend and make better marketing decisions. Measuring audiences across all possible platforms in an accurate manner is critical to understanding the consumer and optimizing marketing mixes. TV stands to prove measurable lift in engagement and conversions on digital devices, since consumers can’t click on ads or purchase stuff on TVs – yet. A more complex use case would be measuring the influence that reach on TV had on visits to stores and even in-store purchases.

Traditional TV is probably the last thing many would consider as an “emerging device,” but with marketers incorporating more touch points to understand consumers, there’s no reason that every marketing channel can’t be incorporated into a single-consumer view.

Who knows, maybe TV dinners will make a comeback too.

Follow Kamakshi Sivaramakrishnan (@kamakshis), Drawbridge (@Drawbridge) and AdExchanger (@adexchanger) on Twitter.

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