Nearly four years ago, I was a national TV buyer for GroupM, sitting across the table from the executives of a major advertiser in a pre-upfront meeting. When the head of our research department asked if the client would be interested in targeting rewards members with its national TV buy, the client’s response was “not yet.” I, however, was sold immediately. So, when the advanced advertising team was created and advertisers were ready, I was there—helping clients develop segments and access data, and fold that data into their national TV planning and buying scenarios.
Now, as a director of data solutions at Viacom, I can say I’ve seen both sides of media buying and planning. I understand the challenges and opportunities for publishers and advertisers as the marketplace for TV advertising becomes more data-driven. All things considered, I think that audience-based buying has the potential to transform the TV ad industry. But for its potential to be realized, both sides of the industry have to make some adjustments.
With that in mind, here are three key considerations that will be most important as the industry adapts to advanced advertising:
For agencies, clients, and publishers, collaboration is critical.
Some agencies have unique access to segment ratings, concentration, and even reach data to inform planning and buying decisions. In some cases, this advanced data is already used as a planning tool to figure out the best network and daypart allocations. Publishers, meanwhile, have the unique ability to enhance the planning and buying decisions by accessing segments and programming at a more granular level.
Targeting is enhanced when these sides work together. Agencies can provide details on KPIs and expectations based on their brand knowledge and data analysis. Viacom can then take those objectives and insights and produce a very specific schedule that fits each advertiser’s individual needs. We are able to do this by predicting the viewing behavior of a segment for an upcoming campaign, placing the ad inventory in specific telecasts that will have the highest concentration or greatest reach potential, and guaranteeing deals on segment impressions delivery.
Audience-based targeting is a smart buy as part of an overall plan.
Audience-based buying can be a replacement or a complement to traditional TV buys—but it’s not going to eradicate demo-based advertising. Being a part of cultural moments is still an important goal for brands, and capturing those moments remains integral in campaign planning. Which means advertisers will still care about tentpole events and premium, program-based buying.
Audience-based buying offers a way to effectively reach a specific audience that aligns more closely with a client’s strategy and objectives than broad demographics. In certain scenarios, it’s better to shift traditional buying patterns to increase impressions or reach of a more defined segment. For example, we used our advanced audience platform, Viacom Vantage, to locate audiences for a large QSR brand targeting a specific segment for a product relaunch, a smaller budget advertiser looking for a more efficient buy, and an auto brand striving to identify purchase intent during a sales event. In each instance, we delivered a concentration of target viewers that was at least 20% higher than any other part of their TV campaign.
When it comes to data, don’t be surprised by surprises.
Various aspects of campaign execution are changing and will continue to change. Campaign results and schedules often look different‚ and may look more complicated until we all adapt to the amount of data at our fingertips. There are times when network or daypart placement don’t align with the traditional perception of a brand, but the audience segment data indicates that it’ll provide the greatest segment concentration or incremental segment reach. For example, with Vantage, an advertiser that traditionally ran ads on Nick at Nite or TV Land may be placed on Comedy Central or VH1 as a way to reach more viewers in its target audience.
For my part, I’m excited by all the change. It’s confusing and challenging for people on all sides of the buying process, but that indicates that we’re on the frontlines as advanced buying becomes currency in the TV advertising industry. It means the “not yet” is quickly becoming “tell me more.”