There are plenty of misconceptions around the efficacy of TV as a marketing channel.
Though unrivalled in its reach (91% of UK households switch on live TV at least once per week, according to TV Licensing) many marketers often relegate the channel to broad-brush brand-building efforts, rather than using it to drive actual outcome behaviours, saving their more focused efforts for search, social or email. In fact, a survey of 59 leading UK advertisers in 2022 found that 67% had plans to slash their spend on broadcast TV, opting to divert budgets to digital channels instead.
But an evolution in addressable TV advertising is changing all that. While it has been possible for some years to tailor TV ads to different segments using household-level data, the accuracy of insights into TV audiences is improving, offering new strategic approaches and greater returns on marketing investment.
So what are the key trends that lie behind this evolution in the potential of TV advertising?
More tailored ad creative
The first is the increasing sophistication of data-driven creatives. While once the potential time and cost involved in putting together a TV ad campaign was prohibitive to all but the biggest brands, big leaps forward in the effectiveness and affordability of creative automation now mean that marketers can prepare hundreds of different creative assets at speed, and at far lower cost.
“We can now use addressable creative to reach more nuanced audiences with tailored imagery and messaging,” explains Joe Kinchin, UK partnerships director at addressable TV specialist Finecast. “For instance, a travel brand can now create a varied range of different family-focused ads based on where a family is based in the country, or a different type of city break based on lifestyle behaviours.”
This approach can even be used to directly drive actual outcomes by using custom or sequential messaging within campaigns to prompt an action. Viewers that have previously shown interest in a brand, for instance, may be served with relevant promotions, or those that have already purchased certain products could receive complementary product messaging.
Reach customers as well as prospects
Second is the ability to holistically use first-party data to tailor campaigns in ways that makes sense for TV. As the availability of third-party cookies is gradually phased out, the use of first-party data has become an increasingly powerful tool with which to reach audiences across all channels, with the emergence of data clean rooms and data bridging technologies making it possible to utilise these insights in a secure GDPR-complaint way.
Making the most of brands’ CRM and other first-party data “requires scale in order to build a robust and significant audience, and then adequate exposure of those profiles [to marketing] in the channel you are using”, points out Kinchin. Addressable TV can tick both these boxes. For example, by aggregating first-party data to postcode unit level and combining this with a propensity model, brands can reach both real-life customers and prospective customers who share key commonalities with them.
Looking at purchasing behaviours over multiple annual periods, predictive segments can be formed to determine when audiences are likely to be in the market to make another purchase.
Joe Kinchin, Finecast
“This strategy allows brands to harness their first-party data in a way that makes the most sense for a TV viewing environment, providing granular accuracy with a more scaled outlook, meaning brands can execute on objectives through the funnel.”
The results speak for themselves. In 2022, Boots took this approach, harnessing the first-party data it had gathered via its popular Advantage Card and partnering with Finecast to create a data bridge, which anonymised data sets and created defined customer audiences. TV ads for Boots’ summer campaign were then broadcast to both broader demographic audiences and these precise segments of Advantage Card users, with the latter seeing different creatives and formats, as well as being served adverts that incorporated QR codes to drive action. The approach saw four times better return on ad spend for the high street retailer, with 61% of TV viewers exposed to the campaign likely to purchase a product.
Tailor according to intent
The third and most recent addition to this data-driven TV advertising toolkit takes the ability to drive these actual outcome behaviours one step further, harnessing historic data that’s has been securely aggregated and anonymised by geography, and AI to tailor content for specific in-market audiences. Made available via a partnership between Finecast and Mastercard, marketers can now target TV ads to those customers most likely to be purchasing a related product in the next 90 days.
Using this approach brands can now understand, for example, which geographical areas consumers are most likely to be travelling to internationally, where people are most likely to be spending on upscale hotels and resorts and where they’re looking to buy tickets for theatre and live entertainment.
“Looking at purchasing behaviours over multiple annual periods, predictive segments can be formed to determine when audiences are likely to be in the market to make another purchase,” explains Kinchin. “This can be applied across categories for travel, entertainment, auto, home improvement and more, enabling brands to further reach customers in the right moment across TV and help push them further down the purchasing funnel.”
“With our aggregated and anonymised data, brands can build in-market audiences that help them better reach viewers at the right moment,” adds Bronwyn Francis, senior vice-president of advisors business development at Mastercard. “Our partnership with Finecast improves the addressable TV experience for both brands and viewers – now, consumers can receive more relevant messages and, in turn, advertisers will feel real impact on their results.”
For marketers who continue to dismiss TV advertising as solely an expensive brand building exercise, now is the time to challenge their own misconceptions. With the evolution of addressable TV and the sophistication of datasets available to better tailor TV campaigns, the channel could be an invaluable tool to drive real outcome behaviours in an economic climate where that has never mattered more.