Leveraging big data to target specific groups of consumers with addressable advertising is creating greater efficiencies in the TV media buying process, according to execs from Comcast Media 360, Starcom Mediavest Group and marketing optimization firm Crossix Solutions. And while they do not espouse forgoing national network media buys for addressable campaigns, they say it can provide a complement to an advertiser’s overall media mix when a more targeted audience is desired.
According to Andrew Ward of Comcast Media 360 national sales, the evolution from one ad reaching many to one ad reaching a single target is underway at Comcast. “That evolution has already taken place across a variety of our platforms,” in which the underlying architecture is digital, he said during a webcast on big data from Comcast Spotlight and Ad Age. For instance, in the VOD space Comcast is currently able to take consumer data and target. “The next hurdle is really that linear TV space,” he said. While in the past the company’s analog-based cable business was hesitant to embark on the strategy, “that marketplace has changed dramatically,” he said. As cable systems complete the conversion to digital, it will behoove the company to get on board, he said.
Helen Katz, svp, director of research, Starcom Mediavest Group said that recent campaign testing with Comcast showed that viewers were “less likely to tune away” when the ad being shown was addressable rather than a regular TV ad. Even though they might not have raised a hand in approval, “we have the behavioral data” proving tune away was minimized, she said.
With many of company’s clients seeking to identify the impact of campaigns across multiple platforms, Starcom worked with Comcast on a multi-screen program to quantify and measure the impact TV ads have on sales. They targeted specific zones identified through leveraging big data. Within the 5-week campaign, 735,000 households were shown both cable TV and Xfinity.com ads. The results showed that sales lift was highest among households that saw both TV and digital ads, and after 15 weeks of ad exposure, the ad sales lift was at 51%. “If you have a well crafted target… and a well crafted creative… you see that resonance significantly spike,” said Ward.
With past models, results from cross-platform campaigns could not be assessed. Targeting with big data allows not only clearer knowledge of reach and frequency but also how the ads impact consumers, Starcom’s Katz said. Additionally, the use of big data in media planning creates a more efficient buy and less waste for your campaign, according to Dan Stein, svp, Crossix Solutions. It’s a great approach for “companies with nuanced products” who “need to focus their spending and reach audiences more efficiently,” he said.
Here’s an example: Allstate, a client of Starcom, wanted to target home renters, an audience considered too small a group for TV advertising. But using addressable, they were able to justify and test out the use of TV ads to reach that particular target, Katz explained. “And they were also able to measure it,” she said. Stein works with several clients on a smaller scale as well. “Big data is almost designed for identifying and finding small audiences and driving impact,” he said.
Indeed, execs emphasized that addressable advertising is not fully scalable for all TV media buys. “We are not advocating that everyone moves to this more targeted approach,” said Katz. With the max deployment currently at 36 million households, more broadly targeted campaigns wouldn’t make sense. It’s more a complement to an overall media buy, said Ward, “not a binary thing.”

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