As linear television ratings decline because Americans are consuming content on one of several OTT platforms, it’s tempting to argue for an immediate shift in the advertising model. But while television is changing, that change isn’t as rapid as industry pundits think. In the short term, marketers will be best served by media strategies that pair linear TV with connected TV.
The total Connected TV audience is at around 182 million people, according to eMarketer. Through a variety of OTT platforms and devices, advertisers have a real opportunity to pair television content with digital targeting tools. But while the growth is in OTT, linear TV still represents the lion’s share of the audience.
One way for advertisers to think about the shift from the present to the future of television is to understand that while both linear TV and connected TV are good options on their own, both working in concert provide even better outcomes. Of course, the vast majority of advertisers with television experience come from a linear TV background, which means it’s important to understand how adding connected TV into the mix can complete a media plan.
For one thing, connected TV is a way to follow those highly valuable consumers who are migrating away from linear TV. In the broadest sense, marketing professionals tend to think of these audiences as “young cord-cutters,” but that characterization can be misleading. Yes, there are plenty of young people cutting the cord and a rising wave of younger people who never had a cord in the first place. But there are also “cord-shavers,” as well as people who subscribe to both a linear TV and connected TV service. In fact, a recent study performed by comScore shows connected TV viewership in every major age bracket, including viewership from 44% of adults 65+ years old. Looking beyond the headlines, connected TV audiences are actually quite nuanced.
By applying TV viewership data into linear TV media plans, marketing professionals can identify households in the target audience that will not be reached, and create an incremental connected TV plan, reaching these unreachable consumers. Or, depending on their campaign needs, marketing professionals may want to also drive incremental frequency in those consumers already reached with the linear TV plan. The point isn’t that one approach is always preferable to the other; rather, the point is that combining data-driven Linear TV planning and addressable targeting on connected TV puts marketing professionals in a better position to drive results from their buys.
Creative testing is another area, where marketers can take advantage of combining the use linear TV and connected TV. Over the past two decades, digital advertisers have become incredibly skilled at testing multiple versions of creative, and targeting and measuring attribution and other metrics that provide feedback on their messaging. As a result, digital creative is well-informed by data.
Unfortunately, linear television copy testing is not as robust. But if a connected TV segment is treated as a proxy for a larger Linear television campaign, advertisers and their agencies can begin to adjust their copy on linear TV more easily.
Of course, all of this is easier said than done. Blending linear TV and connected TV in media plans represents the cutting edge of marketing in 2018. After all, according to a survey of ANA members, only 15% of advertisers currently include connected TV in their media plans. Thirty-five percent of advertisers who responded to the survey say they’ve experimented with connected TV, but need to learn more. However, it’s clear where the trend lines are heading. And the onus is now on advertisers and their agencies to begin buying or building blended capabilities that leverage the scale of Linear TV and the targeting of connected TV.
Today, in this rapidly-evolving TV ecosystem, there are a variety of ways viewers can tune in to TV, including new formats like Connected and Addressable TV. Learn more from dataxu on how marketers can capitalize on these new technologies.
--Sandro Catanzaro, Chief Innovation Officer, Co-Founder, dataxu