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TV Audience Targeting 101: What You Need to Know

January 24th, 2019   ||    by Oriana Schwindt

Targeting: Bad in football, but the next evolutionary stage of TV advertising. Audience targeting in TV helps alleviate one of the biggest pressures on TV budgets these days—the complaint that TV ads are not as efficient as highly targeted online ads.

Technology and the rise of Big Data, though, have seen TV catch up in its ability to offer audience targeting that would have been dubbed magic just a decade ago.

Types of Targeted Advertising

There are two types of targeted advertising in TV, explains Ad Age: data-driven and addressable. While not initially intuitive, the difference between the two is easy to grasp and to put into practice. So the next time you’re sitting in a meeting, tempted to Google the difference, just remember this:

  • Data-driven refers to the use of data about viewing behavior and demographics. Buyers purchase access to demographic data sets from companies that collect this information, be that a credit bureau like Experian or one of Nielsen’s business units. Using these data sets, they then construct a media plan that chooses certain programs these consumers are most likely to watch.
  • Addressable refers to household-level targeting. It’s sort of the inverse of data-driven advertising, in that addressable advertising is focused on buying the audience regardless of which program they watch or how they watch it (live or delayed).

Putting Targeting Into Practice

Both audience targeting approaches are useful for local TV advertisers, in particular. While national campaigns can be quite targeted, a certain level of reach is still desirable (and inevitable). Making sure you’re going after the correct audience is paramount when it comes to local, and mixing elements of data-driven and addressable advertising is the key to success.

Using both of these approaches is a boon not just for buyers, but sellers as well. The more specific language both parties can use, the better. Sellers can understand exactly what their clients are looking for and create offerings that are far more efficient than just standard demo deals.

Building a media plan using targeted audiences is rarely simple, but the results are worth the work. Here are a couple steps to get you started:

  • Know what you want. Have an achievable, quantifiable goal in mind. Set KPIs that can be verified and have an open mind about how you can achieve them.
  • Acquire good data sets. Though we live in the age of Big Data, there’s still plenty of bad data out there. The “US identity market” is set to grow from $900 million in 2018 to a massive $2.6 billion by 2022, according to a Winterberry Group report, provided by the Data & Marketing Association. Use only trusted companies that are compliant with local, national, and international privacy regulations.

Precision and massive amounts of data call to mind the specter of privacy. Internet ad behemoths like Yahoo and Facebook have been raked over the coals in the last few years for massive data breaches and targeting that violates anti-discrimination laws—and in the case of Facebook, the hits just keep coming.

Luckily, TV doesn’t have quite this same problem. All forms of data used in TV audience targeting have been anonymized. Indeed, if you think about it, local TV advertisers have been using a form of addressable advertising since the beginning. The difference now is the technology used, along with increased precision. If you’re running a campaign on a local cable system and want to exclude part of a zip code, you can.

And unlike online ads, your customers are not going to be followed around by the same ad for boots they’ve already bought.

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