A View on TV Marketing in 2017
By Ben ReevesFeb 7th 2017
My thoughts on TV marketing and its current state come from a direct response viewpoint so I’m sure some brand campaign managers might disagree. These aren’t trends or what I consider the future for TV, this is what I think any self-respecting company should take into account if they are marketing their brand and product or service offering on TV in 2017.
Attribution is key but never perfect
One of the biggest challenges with TV marketing is attribution (measuring TV's impact on website visits, conversions, or app installs). It’s something I certainly struggled with coming from an analytical background and previous digital marketing experience. A good TV media buying agency will help you in trying to solve this. It’s worth noting that no agency will ever be able to analyse, interpret and ultimately attribute TV as accurately as you the client. Once you realise this it becomes far easier to use and interpret the data and information you get from the agency. The TV marketing team should be able to understand, interpret and apply the results presented by an agency alongside their knowledge of their own data.
The days of TV being incredibly difficult to optimise are long gone. Some may still think that you have to just invest in a wide blanket of stations to reach a large number of people but this is far from the truth. If you work in direct response TV you should be thinking about, or rather your agency should be suggesting, looking at different stations at different times of day, different days of the week, different months of the year and so on. Digital has given TV the awareness of ongoing, in-campaign optimisation. You need the flexible buying options to make the most of your money spent on TV. The level of detail and optimisation can go right down to individual spots (TV advertisement slots) in specific programmes. This can be very useful but of course comes at a cost and a significantly increased one at that. For brands selling high-value items this can be very worthwhile, for others it simply results in inefficiencies as the cost of acquisition would outweigh the revenue from the sale. A TV marketing team should work to find the right balance for their organisation. Your TV media buy should be focused on improving ROI (return on investment) by buying efficiently but constantly learning, evolving and testing. Never think that just because a particular channel or spot was performing well at one point in time it will always be the case. Testing and optimising should be continuous throughout any campaign in order to get the best performance possible. If it doesn’t work out, you’re just one step closer to getting it right.
Advertising on TV is dying, isn’t it?
TV advertising still works and is one of the best ways to build brands. It remains and will remain the far superior way to reach a large audience and scale a brand for some time. According to Thinkbox, you could reach around 70% of the population in one day though TV advertising. Industry reports from BARB (Broadcasters Audience Research Board) show that roughly 85% of TV is still watched live, so whilst VoD (Video on Demand) is growing, TV is the king of media consumption. There is a misconception that the younger generation are not watching any live TV and so it will eventually die out. But as Thomas Hobbs of Marketing Week recently wrote quoting Jane Ostler of Kantar Millward Brown UK:
While globally they spend less time with traditional (51% watch an hour or more of TV a day compared to 74% for Gen X), Gen Z is consistently more positive about ad formats such as outdoor, print ads and cinema, TV and radio ads than standard digital alternatives.
An awful lot is written about digital marketing in various publications but hardly anything on TV. A quick search and you can find 100 articles on digital marketing and how it reaches customers. Of course they have their place and absolutely need to be part of the marketing strategy but why does a channel that has far higher spending and reach seem to get almost ignored in comparison? So many people write about VoD taking over, when will people step out of their London media/tech bubble and think more about their actual customers and find out how they feel and what their preferences are for consuming media. As Lee Baring of VCCP media wrote a few months back, VoD deserves attention and to be taken seriously but it’s a fair way behind challenging TV as a marketing channel. TV is still one of the most talked about mediums in 2017 by the public, both online and offline. Look at the uproar created by the Great British Bake Off moving to Channel 4, people still care about TV and how they consume it.
TV is only for big brands with big budgets right?
People think that to be on TV you need massive budgets. You don’t. Chase media released an article recently in which they highlighted just how low the cost of making an advert can actually be and how cost of production should not be seen as a barrier to entry. Obviously you don’t want to be cutting corners when making your advert though. To make your advert work you need a good agency and a sound knowledge of your company’s market orientation. By this I mean you need to understand your customer and their needs and how your company offering meets this. In DRTV (Direct Response TV) particularly the media buy doesn’t have to break the bank if you are able to effectively target the customers you’re after.
Programmatic TV – the takeover
Programmatic TV* becoming more prominent than traditional media buying is not coming soon. This would involve media owners giving over control. They currently maintain control over who can purchase spots and what buyers can do with the spots the have brought and would lose their power if everything moved to programmatic. Trading programmatically would mean serving an ad live, in real time. A 30–60 second advert served across a network in a nanosecond? I’m not sure the tech is there to support the transferring of files that big that quickly quite yet. Of course there is a fair amount of advert waste in TV but through the use of data analytics this can be reduced significantly. TV can and is being brought with high efficiency. This isn’t a trend for 2017; it’s what any DR campaign should be doing already.
One final but important point, in order to make TV work to its full potential for your business you must have a good working relationship with your media buying agency. The agency relationship should be open and collaborative to succeed. The client must understand what the agency does for them in detail. How else can you be sure they’re doing a good job for you? Some clients will want to just pay the agency money and let them get on with it, that’s what you employ them for after all. I disagree. I think to get the most out of TV as a channel the client marketing team should be knowledgeable about the media buying marketplace and be aware of the difficulties posed. You need to know when to apply pressure and when to realise that some things happen out of even the agency’s control. *Recode.net defines Programmatic TV as any TV ad buy that uses data and automation to more precisely target specific consumer audiences, with the end goal of driving better return on media spend.