More than a mass media: TV enters a new golden era

Television advertising is shaking off its ‘old school’ epithet as innovation in precision targeting allows marketers to measure success and sharpen their focus
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The world’s first TV advertisement, promoting watchmaker Bulova, crackled onto screens in 1941. Since then, television has been a non-negotiable in the advertising playbook for household brands. While the lion’s share of marketing budgets is increasingly siphoned into digital channels, TV remains the big stage for brand storytelling.

According to research from Thinkbox, television reaches around 70% of Europe’s population each day for an average of 3 hours and 39 minutes. This combination of mass appeal, scale and time spent is a potent formula for brands seeking to tap into captive audiences.

However, in the years since the first TV advert was bought by a pioneering American watchmaker, the medium and its consumers have changed substantially. Audiences are watching less traditional linear TV than ever before, instead migrating to video-on-demand services including Netflix, Amazon Prime, BBC iPlayer and other streaming giants.

A recent Ofcom survey found that audiences are drawn to different platforms for different viewing experiences. ‘Event TV’ content such as live sports events or prime-time season finales is best watched on linear according to consensus, allowing audiences to avoid spoilers and share in a cultural moment. However, frequent breaks, irrelevant advertising, and the lack of personalisation compared to on-demand services were cited as catalysers in the move to streaming across age groups.

With this shift in attitudes and viewing habits comes an opportunity for advertisers to adjust their perspectives. The latest CTV boom and the demonstrable success of targeted social campaigns indicate that a traditional catch-all approach is no longer in vogue. Instead, brands are developing stronger, more meaningful connections with relevant audiences by tactfully placing their message and creative on the right screen at the right time.

Driving efficiency

For Robyn Christison, senior engagement director at Finecast - a specialist in addressable TV solutions – there is a misconception among CMOs that addressable TV is solely about reaching precise audiences or that it is purely an incremental reach driver. The reality is that addressable TV can create multiple layers of efficiencies. “This can help brands minimise media wastage,” Christison explains, adding that addressable TV generates greater traction for organisations that have a developed digital segmentation strategy and a firm grip on who their target audience is to tap into the unbeatable scale and impact of the platform. Frequency management is also key to building a more cost-effective reach across the entire television ecosystem.

Brands of all sizes deserve to take advantage of everything TV has to offer

For brands looking to drive engagement of their KPIs, cutting off a portion of potential leads in favour of a smaller, more concentrated audience may feel counterintuitive to marketers. But, ditching a spray and pray approach could be the way forward for businesses prioritising response and attention over reach. Christison continues: “For brands who have invested in their creative strategy and have multiple versions of it ready to go, addressable TV can then go a step further and serve a relevant ad to a relevant group of people to drive even more engagement across their target audience.”

Addressability goes beyond traditional advertising by taking multiple influences into account, including age, gender, lifestyle, interests, and attitudes. For Finecast, this also means connecting identity factors with actual product purchase behaviour and location. It administers a full-funnel approach to target the audiences that will be most receptive to a given product or service and maximise the purchase of a single advert.

In a recent campaign with Finecast, UK telco TalkTalk delivered advertisements designed to appeal to unique groups, including households interested in bundle phone and internet deals and individuals looking for speedy broadband. Creating bespoke audiences for TalkTalk based on a range of measurable characteristics, from the likelihood of moving home within 12 months to reaching families that watched a lot of movies, Finecast used data from various sources which could be supplemented with transactional data to align with appropriate audiences.

This addressable TV campaign delivered a 14% uplift in website traffic for the brand at the cost of £0.15p per incremental session.
“We use the results from a campaign to optimise the next one – it’s a matter of testing and learning and ensuring we match objectives to activation,” adds Christison.

Measuring up

Deploying new methods for reaching and engaging audiences means businesses must adopt new means of measuring effectiveness.
Data produced by performance platform Allocadia highlighted that against the backdrop of rising costs and tighter budgets, 84% of CMOs are under increased pressure to prove their return on investment but an overwhelming 61% feel that their data isn’t robust enough.

Beyond measuring the effectiveness of campaigns from an investment perspective, when used in conjunction with a traditional linear campaign addressable TV can also provide marketers with a steer on other key metrics, including de-duplicated reach and frequency.
According to Finecast’s measurement and insights associate director, Jack Egan, addressable solutions can be used to achieve objectives that span the whole customer journey – whether it’s building awareness and reach, driving consideration or growing revenue. Flexibility is built in.

Egan’s team worked with BMW to raise brand awareness among audiences who were considering buying a hybrid or electric car. Taking a dual approach, BMW employed Finecast’s Total TV Measurement tool and a brand uplift study powered by Kantar to measure incremental reach versus linear TV and whether the campaign drove uplifts across core KPIs.

Subsequent measurement studies showed that the automaker reached an incremental 4.1% of UK adults aged 18 to 34, raising purchase intent by 29% and consideration by 31%. These metrics helped the brand’s marketing team maximise their return and boosted innovation in planning and investment in television advertising.

“TV is the strongest channel for BMW to drive leads and enquiries, replicating this in a more targeted environment is the reason why Finecast has become indispensable in our video-on-demand plans,” says Fiona Jones, former brand communications manager at BMW UK.
Egan believes the possibilities for other brands are endless. “Brands of all sizes deserve to take advantage of everything TV has to offer. To make the most of addressable TV, advertisers should come in with a clear objective, which allows for KPIs and a measurement framework to be built out from the start,” Christison explains. “This lets us not only target the right people but apply the most effective measurement on the back of it.” 

TV is changing, and for advertisers, its golden age is only just beginning.

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