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.