Do You Really Know Where Your Audiences Are?

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Is effective TV advertising a thing of the past?

Audiences are fragmenting, viewers are spending time across a range of linear and digital devices, and brands are struggling to follow their consumers across the ever-growing multitude of platforms.

Or are they?

The truth is, TV has never been more popular – especially in the UK. Within Europe, the UK is the largest broadcast video-on-demand (BVOD) market, where in the first week of 2021 alone, viewers spent an accumulative 1.5 billion minutes with BVOD. The likes of ITV Hub, All 4 and My5, which concentrate their offerings on catch-up services, are the frontrunners in ad-supported BVOD platforms – but broadcasters such as Channel 4 are also broadening their BVOD horizons with exclusive boxsets.

Taking one of the UK’s most popular shows as an example, The Great British Bake Off (GBBO) is now arguably the most successful Channel 4 broadcast since 1985. The first episode of its 2020 series was watched by over 10.8 million viewers, attracting 20% more viewers than the year before. Additionally, recent forecasts predict a 10% growth in TV ad spend for 2021, signalling that advertisers are hungry to reach and engage these viewers. 

So what are the rules of the new TV landscape that can help connect brands with their desired audiences and boost performance?

See TV as the viewer does

Today’s audiences are seeking a diverse range of quality content, on all devices, and they expect it to be available at their convenience. In understanding this, advertisers must be prepared to engage and measure audience response across time, platforms and devices to keep up with evolving viewing habits. Only then can TV’s massive following be tapped into, to effectively convey brand messaging and maximise performance.

Although viewers being split across a variety of devices and platforms can present brands with challenges, such as audience duplication, it’s also an opportunity to connect with smaller groups of highly engaged consumers. This increases the opportunity to boost response. While TV’s headline programmes will always be a fantastic platform for expanding reach and building brand recognition, advertisers can drive the consumer to the next stage of their journey by measuring reach and frequency, reach extension, outcomes and audiences in a deterministic and privacy-compliant way, and tying these insights directly to performance uplift.

Most importantly, advertisers must have access to these insights in real time to implement in-flight campaign optimisations. Post-campaign reporting is an outdated approach to TV ad measurement, as advertisers need the means to capitalise on unexpected options to reach audiences. At a time when advertising budgets are constrained, every penny invested in TV needs to work as hard as it can. To plan upcoming ad spend, brands are looking for TV to provide digital-like insights into their investments, so they can flip the process and measure TV how people watch it.

Unlock a flexible approach to audience engagement

In all of its forms, TV remains a strong driver of audience response. Brands that aired ads alongside the last season of The GBBO, for example, saw tangible results from their investment. This was particularly true for TV and film trailers, such as Netflix’s Bridgerton trailer, which achieved a 45x increase in online search in the show’s ‘final week’ and later became Netflix’s most-watched original series. The Enola Holmes film trailer, unveiled during ‘cake week’, also witnessed a huge 65x uplift in performance and generated the best search response in comparison to all other ads aired on the show.

Advertisers can still make the most of linear TV engagement alongside the growing popularity of BVOD. Viewers are tuning in to programmes through a number of different platforms – many watch live, while others utilise catch-up services such as All 4 – and with advanced measurement technologies, brands can take advantage of this diversification.

The recent ITV broadcast of the Oprah interview with Meghan and Harry proved TVs power to draw huge audiences, sustaining an average 11.3 million UK viewers over the two-hour interview. What other medium, but TV, can provide that reach?

And advertisers benefited from paying the premium for spots throughout the show, with the Marie Curie advert for its National Day of Reflection achieving a 6.5x increase in online post-ad search and ManoMano saw a huge 20x lift in post-ad response.

Fully automated TV measurement is necessary to collate viewership data from smart TVs, set-top boxes and ad servers, to monitor campaign performance across all platforms and devices. By uniting this with spot-level and first-party data, advertisers can access accurate audience insights to scale, as well as leverage these to enable real-time optimisations. Always-on ad measurement delivers a comprehensive view of impressions, reach and outcomes across all forms of TV advertising – allowing brands to successfully connect with viewers wherever they are.

All indicators suggest that TV is indeed thriving. Quality content is attracting engaged viewers, while the advertising industry can align its TV measurement capabilities with current viewing behaviours. Only with a precise, simple and transparent approach to measuring TV advertising can brands deploy – and optimise – campaigns across all devices and platforms. Looking ahead, brands that adapt to their audience habits will be the ones who transform the growing opportunities of TV advertising into tangible business outcomes.

Hew Bruce-Gardyne is the Head of Business Intelligence at TVSquared


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