The Future of Television Advertising
Television advertising media expenditures are the biggest single component of a typical marketing budget – and yet are the least accountable when it comes to proving direct product sales or other return on investment (ROI) success.
That’s made for very good business for those in the ad-dependent content creation and distribution fields – as well as for the effective monopoly (Nielsen) that has controlled its measurement and tradable currency over the decades. For marketers and the agencies that buy ad time for them – not so much. Translating product marketing targets into the conveniently (but artificially) broad demographic vernaculars of the TV industry is messy, inefficient, and rife with Wanamakerian waste. But it is relatively easy – and that will be increasingly problematic in the years to come.
Today, when a media seller offers a marketer the chance to advertise during a program that is promised to do well in a demographically defined band like “Males 18-49” – how many products or services neatly fit into that seemingly arbitrary targeting environment? Aside from some base commonalities (you can figure out what those “boys-will-be-boys” areas are), a (barely) adult male who’s 18 years old and a (hopefully, fully grown) adult male who’s 49 years old are radically different people – one is in college, the other is figuring out how to pay for college. (God help the adult male who’s 50 or over.) Yet that is how marketers must contort themselves to advertise on television today – take the big dumb opaque box of scaled audience as coarsely defined – or leave it.
By the end of the decade, however, the TV advertising landscape will look much different. The migration of TV/video distribution to more pure IP (internet protocol) delivery infrastructure, coupled with “big data” advances in set-top analytics will usher in a new era of audience-based targeting that will make the last 15+ years of online advertising formation look like child’s play.
Essentially, the skills gleaned from online marketing will be the “dress rehearsal” for the Big Daddy of television, as the medium continues to morph into free(er)-flowing *video* formats across multiple consumption environments — each with discrete, granular and measurable data points. TV advertising units will become increasingly and tantalizingly atomized, allowing marketers to more effectively create numerous and simultaneous gerrymandered audiences, directly and natively tailored to marketers’ organic targeting criteria.
Marketing success will come to those skilled in both the sophisticated science of “big data” analysis and insight, and the subjective art of aggregating myriad atomized bits of audiences digitally spread across the TV/video landscape by time, place, and device into whatever scale makes economic sense to the marketer. As such, CMOs and their agents will need improved quantitative skills to market to multiple audiences simultaneously — relentlessly informed by consumer data before, during and after campaigns — and with “always on” monitoring and optimization. Creative messaging, too, will get an order of magnitude more complex — but also increasingly compelling, as “spots” become more data-intelligent about the audiences they are reaching, and inherently more resonant with pre-identified tribes of like-minded and predisposed consumers.