"On TV And Video" is a column exploring opportunities and challenges in advanced TV and video.
Today’s column is written by Andy Fisher, head of Merkury Advanced TV at Merkle.
With the deprecation of third-party cookies and its implications on media targeting, advertisers are increasingly looking for opportunities to leverage both their first-party data and third-party data to effectively reach audiences. Advanced TV (ATV) offers the opportunity to do just that, providing marketers a brand-safe, person-targeted medium that is more measurable than traditional linear TV buys.
Before diving into advanced TV, however, advertisers need to consider the options available, have a clear picture of their audience definitions, and understand the limitations that currently exist.
Understanding the advanced TV landscape
Advanced TV represents any TV opportunity that allows the advertiser to leverage data to target, plan, buy, and measure delivery against an advertiser-defined audience. There are several types of media that fall within the ATV umbrella, with varying degrees of targetability.
Audience-based linear is closest to traditional linear TV, with advertisers buying space on shows and dayparts that index closest to their target audience. This goes by many names in the industry, including audience-based buying (ABB), data-driven linear (DDL), and index-based buying.
Addressable TV goes a step further, allowing advertisers to target at the household level with cable companies via set-top boxes within linear addressable (the two minutes per hour that networks leave blank) and video on demand.
Connected and over-the-top (OTT) TV have emerged more recently and involve delivering ads to viewers’ devices via the internet on platforms like Roku, Hulu, Samsung, and hundreds of other partners.
Programmatic TV, or automatic buying and planning of these TV ads, applies across all three media types, though it is most prevalent in connected and over-the-top TV. In addition, there is an emerging flavor called national linear addressable, where the ad is purchased nationally and can then be replaced with a different version as it is viewed across different addressable platforms.
The numerous partner options, and the differences that exist between them, make the advanced TV landscape challenging to navigate. Marketers must understand their different options to identify the right fit and determine how they’re going to manage these different relationships, whether that’s through an in-house team or an agency.
Leveraging first-party data in advanced TV buys
Before moving toward identity-focused advertising, marketers must first understand the landscape and how the different types of advanced TV media actually work. Next they must be experts in their audience definitions and know exactly who they want to reach and how each audience is constructed.
Once audience definitions are clear, marketers should determine where to activate and allocate budget primarily based on their goals. Is return on investment or incremental reach more important? Are there key reporting capabilities that are must-haves for a partner?
A marketer might also choose its approach based on its current advertising focuses. A digital-first brand, for example, may start with programmatic, effectively expanding its digital buys into connected TV. A brand that’s historically invested heavily in linear TV may opt to start with audience-based linear. Regardless of the approach, it’s common for a marketer to pick just one addressable TV partner to test, run a campaign, then expand after seeing positive results.
There are some limitations to first-party data activation, which vary by partner. Regardless of partner, one of the most important limitations to think about is privacy, especially for advertisers in finance, insurance, health, and similar verticals. It’s important for either the marketer or their agency to ensure compliance within sensitive industries.
Creating a seamless customer experience through advanced TV
Because advanced TV advertising means talking to consumers while they’re enjoying an experience, ads must be thoughtfully paired with content. While audience-based linear and linear addressable TV both give viewers a similar ad experience as traditional linear TV would, CTV has more potential to disrupt the viewer experience.
The key pitfall to avoid with connected TV is showing an ad over and over to the same viewer within a short period of time, making the ad uninteresting and annoying. Marketers leveraging connected TV should keep a very close eye on frequency reporting and work with partners with a strong track record of managing frequency to avoid upsetting consumers.
Measurement varies by media type and can be complicated
The measurement sources for advanced TV depend on the media type you’re buying, but different partners use different methods.
For audience-based linear, a partner may leverage proprietary reporting or lean on a provider like Comscore or Nielsen, leading to a complicated mix of disparate sources. Some groups are working to standardize this reporting, but the industry isn’t there yet.
Similarly, addressable TV providers have differing philosophies about building the event stream – some use third-party processors, while others build it themselves. Some players will provide event streams for free, others provide them for an additional fee, and some don’t provide them at all.
On the user side, viewers may or may not be logged in when seeing a connected TV ad, which can make linking between a conversion and the event streams to determine ROI complicated. So it’s important to understand the data available from a particular measurement partner before launching a campaign.
While there are challenges in working with advanced TV, advertisers that understand and can activate against their first-party data now stand to benefit greatly from advanced TV’s explosive growth, while adding another seamless touchpoint to their customers’ journeys.