Addressability: A Critical Tactic in an Audience-First TV Strategy

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By Marion Hargett, Ampersand, SVP, Agency Strategy and Partnerships

Our industry has made big strides in recent years in pursuit of addressable TV at scale. Collective efforts like “On Addressability” by Charter, Comcast and Cox are a great example of this. Supported by rich audience/brand insights and advanced campaign measurement, many now view addressable TV as the return-on-ad-spend (ROAS) savior.  Contrast all that to the limitations of traditional linear TV, then it’s no wonder that many early adopters believe all TV advertising should be addressable.

While it’s hard to argue against the value of more precise targeting and better measurement, addressable advertising shouldn’t be a strategy unto itself.  Rather, it should be a critical targeting tactic in an overarching plan to move the entire TV marketplace to an audience-based model.  In my opinion, addressable will serve as the cornerstone for this broader industry evolution of TV planning, buying and measurement.

TV Advertisers Are Taking a Full-Funnel Approach

It’s easy to see why so many folks are excited to bring digital-caliber targeting and accountability to TV.  But buyers and sellers need to be mindful of the unique, full-funnel, brand-building power of TV and not get carried away by the narrow allure of addressable in driving bottom of the funnel performance.  As a mentor likes to say, “it’s fine to pick the apple, but you can’t forget to water the tree.”  TV is an unrivaled medium with a broad continuum of audience targeting capabilities —age/gender, contextual/programming, geographic, screen/device, and now addressable household-level precision.  Each of these targeting tactics is valuable to this broader audience-based approach.

Increasing Reach, Starting at the Top

Addressable TV is unique in its versatility.  Beyond driving branding as well as performance, addressable also delivers new potential customers.  Addressable is great for an incremental reach of households who have never seen your brand message.  It’s also great for building relationships with those people who have been underexposed to your message. This is gaining broad adoption with national TV buyers to improve national network campaigns.

As an illustration,  a major CPG brand wanted to extend the overall reach of its national network TV schedule to optimize reach against each of its targets.  The brand identified audience segments given short shrift in the network campaign; it then launched an addressable TV campaign to uniquely target those homes.  Over the course of six weeks, this marketer reached over 1.2 million households that would have otherwise been totally ignored – resulting in a 14% lift in brand reach. This is a textbook example of how an audience-first, full portfolio approach, with addressable as one key component, increases the efficiency and effectiveness of TV investments.

Moving Beyond Test & Learn

Brands and agencies have been “testing and learning” a lot with addressable in recent years.  That momentum has encouraged more buyers to embrace addressable as a sustained, always-on core tactic.  To no one’s surprise, better data and targeting drive better performance.  This is true across virtually all client verticals, including mainstays like Auto,  Financial Services & CPG.   As addressable inventory continues to scale and usage of the platform accelerates, brands will discover deeper insights to drive their business outcomes.

The Covid-19 crisis has forced many brands to hone a laser-focus to deliver against headwinds caused by fluctuating and shrinking marketing budgets.  This bold mindset should extend beyond the current crisis and drive further adoption of scalable data, targeting and measurement options in premium, brand-safe video environments.  I’m excited that the long-awaited promise of addressable TV is now starting to be fulfilled.  If brands continue to lean in, addressable will serve as a big catalyst for the TV industry’s embrace of audience-first strategies and measurement that can restore more balance and create new opportunities.

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