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Excess TV Campaign Ad Impressions: Too Much of a Good Thing?

July 3rd, 2019   ||    by Charlene Weisler

One of the dark secrets of television advertising is the ad impressions waste that occurs in a campaign. Waste is defined as impressions that reach the wrong audience or reach those who have already been over-exposed to the ad. When an advertiser targets adults 18–49, for example, there is a good chance they will also inadvertently reach both older and younger viewers in their media mix.

A recent study reported in MediaPost found that more than half of a typical campaign’s TV ad impressions are wasted. Although that’s a large percentage, impressions waste is not always bad and can actually be beneficial. Here’s why.

The Current Posting System Is Antiquated

The current method of ascribing target audiences for campaigns is age and gender, and not all 18–49s are alike, nor should 50+-year-olds be dismissed. By accepting a certain level of so-called waste, advertisers may reach audiences primed for their products and services that were previously ignored.

Targeted Segmentations Can Convert Swing Consumers

Even those advertisers who are not relying on age/gender proxies and instead use targeted segmentations can benefit from waste. Targeted segmentations speak to those who have a high propensity to purchase or may already be purchasers. But what about swing consumers? There is a value to exposing your message to those who may be on the fence or are open to hearing different messaging. Think about the Democratic candidates appearing on Fox News, as reported by The Hill. Sure, there will be those viewers who are not open to the messaging, but there are some who might be.

Effective Reach Levels Are Not as Low as They Used to Be

In a landscape of increasing distraction and multi-platform devices that have different quality levels of exposure, the theory that three ad impressions are enough has been debunked in several studies. A study reported in New Neuromarketing found that 10 exposures are needed to effectively influence consumers’ attitudes toward a brand: “You have to get into their brain to really create attitude changes. Multiple exposures of a clear message can cause a transfer of information to long term memory, which in turn affects consumer attitudes.”

The most efficient way of capitalizing on impressions waste is with media that offers both targeted opportunities, such as a local presence, and a certain level of mass reach, as is the case with television. Savvy marketers who understand the targeting complexities and consumer evolution in the media ecosystem shouldn’t worry about ad impressions waste but should instead find ways to maximize its value.

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