TV advertising – reverence turning to doubt
While it was, for decades, the medium for advertisers wishing to make an impression and win the hearts and minds of customers, TV has recently undergone a little bit of a crisis of confidence. Let’s not get confused here – TV is still an effective medium for shaping a brand’s message and customers’ perceptions in a meaningful way. According to a study performed by the Advertising Research Foundation relatively recently, TV is still “the most effective vehicle for driving ROI, and adding digital to a TV campaign yields a +60% kicker effect”. But observations made by eMarketer suggest that, where ad-spend is concerned, TV is suffering. Its share of allocated media budgets over the course of the next few years is set to steadily decline, resulting from a combination of increases in cord-cutting and an ongoing battle with digital ads, generally seen as more accountable. But for large brands, with correspondingly big media budgets, even small improvements in efficiencies pertaining to spend-placement can result in big cost-reductions and increased revenue. So the growing issue is TV performance becoming more measurable and accountable, matched with better-defined audience segments for perfect targeting of ads.
How brands measure TV ROI
So why has this been a problem? For the most part it’s down to the disconnect between TV and the rest of the customer path-to-purchase. Traditionally, if a brand wanted to gauge how well its TV campaigns are performing and to what degree they influenced consumer conversions, there were only a few (limited) options available. Sometimes an advertiser would simply observe KPIs, such as site visits or purchases, after a campaign had run and make a note of any correlation. But this method has always been a less-than-perfect approach, with the door being left open for other variables to impact customer behaviour. For example, viewers can now record shows and watch them later, meaning ads they might collectively see are spread across a variety of times, rather than concentrated in once are. Drawing correlations in this instance can be very, very difficult. Alternatively, if a company wanted to discover how TV changed perceptions of its brand and whether equity was added to, they might turn to using audience panels. But the issue with this has been that making sure the panels are representative of populations, and that audience responses actually matched their behaviour. To compound problems, the proliferation of viewing methods (e.g. DVR views, on-demand, streaming devices, OTT, set-top-boxes) has created a lot of siloed data sources meaning pulling together measurement data in a coherent way is made ever complicated.
TV ACR-based measurement can help provide the solution
All of this has resulted in TV appearing to be a difficult proposition as it relates to accountability. Marketers simply don’t know for sure how measurements stack up and how it’s impacting lower-funnel activity, and it can give them the heebie jeebies if it means sweating over large TV budgets being misplaced. Digital, on the other hand, gives instant feedback, spend can be modified in real-time and conversions can be tied more directly to campaigns. So how can TV compete with this? Truth is it doesn’t have to anymore. TVs can now account for what content (e.g. ad spots) households see and, through data-matching techniques, this can then be tied to subsequent customer behaviour much more deterministically. In essence, TV is now a part of the digital path-to-purchase and its place in this increasingly visible. Automated content recognition technology means TVs can read what’s hitting their screens, meaning every TV produces data, collectively leading to a more holistic data source. This makes building a picture of viewing measurements easier than trying to grab data from myriad different places. All of this means networks can provide ever more clarity on ad-performance for brands, as well as incredibly well defined audience segments, meaning TV is very much levelling the playing field with digital. Forget that – TV is becoming digital now. New-age measurability and old-school emotive power will help it remain the platform to use for advertisers and, in combination with online campaigns, should still be the winner of hearts & minds to turn to.