Perhaps the most vexing problem with using TV to reach direct response targets has been…targeting. Advertisers have always been challenged to know who is seeing what. As the old client lament goes, “I’m wasting half my money, I just don’t know which half.”
Enter addressable TV. Imagine being able to show different TV spots – even tailor entire commercial pods – to different households watching the same content based on needs, interests, attitudes and demographics. Advertisers are no longer forced to buy programs. Instead, they can buy targeted viewers. This may be the beginning of a trend.
Direct marketing has been around for a long time. The advent of postal services ushered in the era of direct response marketing mail. The invention of the telephone enabled marketers to speak directly with prospective customers. Digital computing gave us email, which allowed direct marketers access to a far larger audience. Internet websites spawned display advertising, with the ability to programmatically serve ads to IP addresses based on cookies and clicks.
Then there’s TV. Almost since the beginning, marketers have used TV as a vehicle for direct response selling. Gadgets, gizmos and services of every description could be offered to a vast audience. However, the high costs of TV advertising could be lessened only by placing spots in fringe time slots or local stations. It’s supply and demand, since TV is till the number one media channel by all accounts.
Just as postal mail, email, telephony, and the Internet have been used successfully by direct marketers by thoughtfully applying their respective data sets, TV is now poised to become more laser focused on exactly who sees a message.
The process begins when an advertiser specifies a target audience. Customer data, the advertiser’s “house list” if you will, is then provided to a data aggregator for look-alike matching, data appends, and to scrub personally identifiable information from each record. A TV provider may then supply cable or satellite subscriber data. Then, working with a dynamic ad serving platform developer, data including viewer patterns and remote control actions are merged with demographic data to produce a detailed viewer profile. Everything you could get from postal mail, email or telemarketing lists is combined with even more granular TV viewer data. Advertising messages can then be served to addressable set-top boxes with uncanny precision.
As reported in DMNews, a number of media and technology companies are involved, including Comcast, Cablevision, Verizon Fios, DirectTV, Dish Network, Google (via DoubleClick), Starcom Mediavest Group, Invidi and more.
In sum, addressable TV seems to represent the culmination of the decades old effort in the direct marketing industry to gather, unify, refine and harness prospect data from all channels of the mediaverse. Advertiser ROI and audience satisfaction are poised to be the main beneficiaries.