The Association of Commercial Television


Headlines would suggest that TV is dead, or at least is enduring a slow death.

The reality is that TV viewing is very different than what it was three years ago, let alone 10. How we define “TV” is still being debated. Is it the content, device or pipe that presents it to the viewer? But one thing is clear: With the proliferation of devices now powering TV content in the home, the living room dynamic has radically changed.

The new living room is a hybrid environment, home to the best of linear and digital television. While viewers are increasingly choosing to build their own schedules—comprising a blend of live, on demand and DVR—they tend to gravitate toward the best (and usually largest) screen possible.

FreeWheel’s latest Video Monetization Report (Q2 2018) shows that with every quarter, increasing volumes of digital and dynamically delivered video advertising are accessed via set top boxes (STB) and over-the-top (OTT) devices on the big screen. This now accounts for 57 percent of all non-linear impressions.

As a result, the new living room is not only the point where traditional TV viewing and online content converge, but also the center of a multi-viewer experience. With multiple members of each household gathered around a single TV set powered by an increasing number of devices, the potential for ads placed within premium digital video and broadcast content is vast.

The power of TV, in all its incarnations, to drive advertising impact is greater than ever. Yet, so far, it remains underutilized by many advertisers. As TV evolves, knowledge and capabilities across the value chain must evolve, too.

Keeping pace with viewers habits

The advertising industry must adapt and catch up with the viewing habits of the modern consumer. Unfortunately, legacy organizational, technology and measurement challenges have prevented advertising from following the audiences.

With enhanced addressability capabilities coming to the big screen, advertisers should be following eyeballs and working around the technology limitations that exist today to capture reach and precision opportunities in the most compelling advertising environment: premium video.

”The biggest opportunity for over-the-top and VOD is to recapture TV audiences that have shifted away from linear TV viewing to on demand and multiplatform TV, and maximize the full reach potential within total television across all forms of viewing. Additionally, there’s opportunity around being able to target with more precision within these environments, so, where we are able to identify households and attributes associated to these households, we have the ability to address them with improved precision for advertising.” —Rich Astley, chief product officer, Finecast

The FreeWheel Council for Premium Video has released “A Buyer’s Guide to the New Living Room,” which is intended to help those in the advertising planning and buying world fully grasp the opportunities offered by OTT, STB VOD and addressable linear, and how a holistic approach can harness them.

Some of the key takeaways from this guide:

  • Become a subject matter expert in the new living room to gain advantage for your clients while these channels are still nascent and growing
  • Create a plan using complementary channels to balance reach and precision, leveraging the common and unique attributes of each
  • Work through measurement hurdles and leverage the tools and KPIs that are available to access these engaged yet underserved audiences
  • Personalize messaging and manage frequency through addressable options with creative diversity on all campaigns delivered to the new living room
  • Optimize for scale by adjusting your KPIs for platforms as necessary such as viewability targets in channels that aren’t able to be measured

Globally, 81 percent of people use their TV set to watch broadcast TV at least once a month, making it the most popular media channel. Combined with streaming video (69 percent of all adults use the technology, but 86 percent of those ages 18-36), which is increasingly being viewed on the big screen, there is no question that the living room remains a core environment to engage with valuable audiences at scale.

As TV evolves and embraces the best of both linear and digital, there is a need to align video advertising delivery across common goals and tactics to deliver results, regardless of what your buying or selling approach has been historically.

Only then can advertisers take full advantage of what the new living room has to offer in terms of quality, value and addressability.

Download “A Buyer’s Guide to the New Living Room” here.



An educational and organizing resource, The FreeWheel Council for Premium Video assists marketers to reach desired audiences by conducting research and documenting the benefits of premium video environments. It also champions the interests of member publishers, including ABC, A+E Networks, Comcast, Discovery Communications, ESPN, Fox, NBCUniversal, Turner Broadcasting System and Univision Communications. Learn more at or follow us on Twitter: Twitter @fwcouncil.




Let’s set the scene. The 1950s. A boom in affordable TV sets causes an increase in the number of small screens in homes across the United States. Families flock to their living rooms to watch new programming. With this boom comes the dawn of new advertising, as marketers can now directly reach consumers through TV program sponsorships, commercials and more.

Today, we’re experiencing a reboot of this lean-back media – content that allows audiences to simply sit-back and enjoy.

Despite the fragmentation of media and consumers’ media consumption across platforms – a topic that discussed at length at Advertising Week in NYC – the television itself has a renewed and major role in the household: Hulu reports that 78 percent of their streams are on a connected or smart TV.

Two things happened to make this a reality – great content and easy-to-use technology.

Emmy winners demonstrate that fantastic premium content is coming from all kinds of sources. Whether it’s broadcast (“This is Us”), cable (“The Americans”), premium cable (“Barry”) or over-the-top (“Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”), the bar has been raised for quality programming and audiences will go wherever they can watch.

And along with great content, technology is finally catching up to the consumer allowing them to watch whatever content they want, whenever they want, and on the biggest and best available screen available – which often is the television screen (thank you, smart and connected TVs).

Other advancements such as the rise of the skinny bundle and virtual multichannel video programming distributors (vMVPDs), are further supporting this convergence of the “old” (linear TV) and “new” (digital).

We’ve got the content, we’ve got the technology and the user experience. Consumers are back on the couch – perhaps with an extra screen or two – leaning back and eager to be entertained.
Now the advertising experience must follow suit.

First, advertisers need an accurate and honest read of their audiences. How often are they watching (to optimize frequency)? Where are they watching (to optimize reach)? Who are they watching with (to account for co-viewing)? This requires a holistic view of audiences across all platforms, so advertisers can truly optimize their efforts.

We must also develop more precise and personalized targeting to reach the right audiences with the right message at the right time and frequency.

While this seems easy enough, how many of us have been served the same ad multiple times during one sitting or even *gasp* during the same commercial break? It happens too often.
To prevent this, marketers need more sophisticated advertising tools – be it to plan their advertising, buy ad inventories or evaluate their campaign efforts. Advertisers need to be planning and buying at the person-level based on advanced descriptors like interests, behaviors, and lifestyles.

Addressable is a step in the right direction as it aims to deliver the promise of digital’s increased targetability to TV advertising. But it’s also still in its infancy. In fact, a joint survey from Forrester and the Association of National Advertisers (ANA) found that of the ANA members who responded to the survey about 15 percent of advertisers are regularly including addressable or advanced TV buys in their media plans. Another 20 to 30 percent will test an addressable or advanced TV buying approach this year alone.

But beyond these tactics, there’s a bigger strategic shift that needs to occur.

Like the influx of affordable TV sets in the 50s that brought about a new medium of advertising, so must this next evolution of media consumption. But that takes both the digital and TV worlds relinquishing their fiefdoms for the greater advertising good.

We’re already starting to see these neat silos disintegrate. In fact, they already have completely from a consumer experience standpoint. Now advertisers and measurement need to catch up. We must stop thinking in terms of TV versus digital and embrace the new reality: The convergence of digital and TV is inevitable. Consumers are there already. Advertising needs to be, too.