As the capability for consumer targeting on digital becomes ever more sophisticated, so the scope of addressable audience segments on TV looks increasingly anaemic. In fairness to the TV industry, there are considerable technical, operational, and commercial challenges to overcome in order to transition from broadcast targeting to buying specific audiences
As TV has moved inexorably to digital delivery (through set top boxes and IPTV), so the opportunity to collect return path data has transformed the ability of TV Operators to understand their viewer behaviour and has provided the foundation for the development of hyper-targeting. It enables operators to offer a very wide set of attributes that advertisers can use for targeting, stretching the options from two dozen broad demographics to hundreds of affinity groups.
That may sound great until you think about how you operationalise it in a TV trading ecosystem that has run on a much simpler, reach-driven commercial and operational basis. I remember the reaction from the media agencies when we launched AdSmart at Sky in 2013. There was an initial ‘wow, that’s awesome’ moment from those present, followed about three seconds later with a look of mild shock as the transformational implications sunk in.
As we’ve launched ThinkAdvertising, enabling TV Operators to rapidly create and market over 160 affinity attributes from their own viewing data, we’ve also encountered some nervousness about transitioning away from a 40-year-old model featuring just a few audience segments.
The good news is that the breadth of TV behavioural targeting can be introduced at whatever speed suits the local market or operational constraints of the TV Operator. For example, the ThinkAdvertising solution produces a hierarchy, which means affinity attributes can be rolled up into fewer – but still powerful – targeting variables, such as Automotive, Technology, Sports, Finance, Travel etc to enable a simpler offering to start with. As operational maturity and confidence increases, these groups can be expanded in levels to offer ever more specific target audiences eg ‘Sports’ to ‘Type of Sport’ to ‘Club’ and, even, ‘Player’.
When considering the shift into TV behavioural targeting, the most important thing to bear in mind is that the future waits for no-one. That journey of a thousand miles may start with a simple step but that step needs to be taken. The days of TV advertising attracting substantial advertising dollars by only offering broad demographic targeting are fast ending. The implementation of sophisticated TV targeting capability is something that can – and should – be done now and the release of scope and scale of targeting can be easily controlled to suit the operational readiness of the TV Operator and the appetites of advertisers.