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Ad Relevance and Automation: What Do the Stats Say?

August 8th, 2019   ||    by Susan Kuchinskas

A survey by Adobe found something startling: 49 percent of US internet users said that linear TV was the medium where “they were most likely to see a relevant ad.” Only 12 percent responded similarly about streaming video, eMarketer reported.

This is good news for any TV ad sales rep. It’s a great pitch to advertisers: not only is ad relevance still higher for television than for digital or streaming video, television advertising is also more secure and brand-safe.

TV and Automated Platforms

Local television stations and media buyers are looking to automated platforms to reduce some of the time-consuming and uncreative tasks associated with the buying process. New platforms that enable programmatic buying of TV spots make it more efficient for buyers to take advantage of this highly relevant medium.

Automation is not the only prospective benefit to programmatic TV: the big kahuna is applying first- and third-party data to television buys.

The benefit to buyers is that they can—or will be able to—target audiences at the household level at the best times to reach them, independent of what program they’re watching. Ad relevance will be closer to one-to-one.

The benefit to sellers is that they can unlock the true value of all spots.

Sixty-eight percent of advertisers plan to integrate digital audience data into television ad buys by the end of this year, according to

Puzzle Pieces Missing

There’s an important gap in this survey. People watching television have no clue whether an ad they see was purchased the old way, using a show’s ratings, or targeted programmatically. Therefore, it’s possible that the 4 percent of TV ads bought programmatically are responsible for the increased ad relevance of linear television.

On the other hand, since 81.2 percent of 2019 digital video ads are served programmatically, per eMarketer, you could say that targeting of streaming video ads has not greatly increased ad relevance there.

Lagging ad relevance in digital video should serve as a warning to stations and media buyers. As more data sets become integrated with automated buying/selling platforms, the greater granularity, insights, and reporting will be available to make better marketing decisions.

But it won’t be set-it-and-forget-it. While the immense volume of digital video ads makes it impossible to manually plan and execute campaigns, the best television ad relevance will come when ad reps and buyers put their heads together to fine-tune programmatic.

Combining linear and digital into a single package lets stations deliver audiences across devices and ensure advertisers that they can efficiently reach their targets no matter where or how they’re watching.

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