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Data Disruption in TV Advertising

Guest post by Calum Smeaton, CEO and founder, TVSquared

In 1960, John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon took part in the first televised presidential debate in the U.S. Kennedy, in a well-tailored suit, looked straight into the camera and commanded the attention of the 70 million people watching. Recovering from an illness, Nixon, on the other hand, was wearing a baggy suit, had a hint of a five-o’clock shadow and appeared somewhat nervous and sweaty. Those people who watched the debate on TV thought, overwhelmingly, that Kennedy won. But those who listened on the radio thought Nixon did.

While some of these 60s-era polling tactics have come into question recently, this fascinating piece of history is still a perfect example of the unrivalled power of TV.

Fifty-six years later, we live in a digital world and the way people consume content has changed drastically. Headlines tout the increase in digital ad spending among advertisers (and even political candidates). Many of these articles cite digital’s measurement and targeting opportunities as the reasons for the growth. And that makes sense. Traditionally, advertisers had no timely way of knowing how TV spots performed or the opportunity to make “on-the-fly” changes to improve on-air campaigns. Given those limitations, it’s no wonder advertisers turned to other, more measureable outlets.

But buried within the noise of digital ad spend is the fact that TV is still king for advertisers “ and the rise of data-driven technologies is only making it more powerful.

  • TV is unequivocally the biggest outlet for media spending, with TV advertising accounting for a £127B global industry. In fact, it’s estimated that U.S. political ad spending will reach up to $6B (£4.2B) this year. Given TV’s sheer reach and the fact that the average person watches thousands of hours of TV a year, it’s not hard to understand why those numbers are so high.
  • Today’s linear TV is an optimized marketing channel. The use of big data and analytical technologies have enable advertisers to target, measure and optimise TV campaigns just like they do with digital.

It’s fascinating to see how big data has completely transformed TV advertising “ which, up until a few years ago, operated a lot like it did during the Don Draper-era of Madison Avenue. Compared to other industries, it was slow to adopt analytics, but it’s certainly making up for lost time.

Advertisers and, going back to my original example, even political teams, have leveraged technologies that measure same-day spot and response data (phone, app, web, SMS, etc.) to make TV work better for them. They can now answer questions like what network, daypart, program, genre and creative work best to reach their target audiences. Advertisers now know which audiences are the most engaged and where they are located; they even have the insights needed to change on-air spots to improve response and ROI.

While the use of these technologies in TV advertising space is still in its infancy, the impact they’ve had is impressive. Some advertisers have been able to improve TV efficiency by upward of 70 per cent.

Combine TV’s massive reach with today’s data-driven technologies and advertisers have an incredibly powerful tool to work with.

Find out more about how TVSquared is using Data Science to disrupt TV advertisment analytics.

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