How brands are improving audience strategies for advanced TV 

Brittany Powers, head of TV, Alliant

The real-world impact of digital video and TV convergence is evident in recent numbers. According to the latest Winterberry Group advanced TV research, U.S. spending on addressable linear and CTV advertising is expected to grow to $47.8 billion in 2026, up from $17.3 billion in 2021.

This staggering 176% increase over the next five years is driven by the fragmentation of viewers and the expanding capabilities of the TV ecosystem. No longer beholden to panel-based age and gender guarantees, brands can now bring their audience-first digital strategies to the big screen. In addition to new activation capabilities, brands are intrigued by the promise of more robust TV measurement that can provide a more accurate understanding of a campaign’s impact than possible in the linear past.

Hurdles holding back advanced TV (ATV) include convoluted pathways to buying media, a lack of standardized identity frameworks and persistent measurement gaps. However, one of the most significant challenges has to do with the core of what makes ATV so attractive to advertisers: audience data.

Understanding current data challenges in ATV

Despite recent measurement currency shakeups, the TV industry has been leveraging the same data sets and metrics for years. Meanwhile, digital natives use test-and-learn strategies and data science fueled by a wide array of data sources. 

As TV and digital come together, it will be critical for brands to have broadly accessible, consistent and actionable data sources for planning through measurement. That is still not the case today, and it’s causing problems for brands in two significant ways.

First, there is often no standard definition of an audience within a brand or across its multiple agency partners. Linear TV teams use one data set to define audiences, frequently bought against gross rating points. Any audience expansion efforts then use the same approaches. 

Meanwhile, digital buyers use different approaches to define an audience. They start with a digital-first buying approach, then use it to expand their reach to other addressable TV channels. Depending on which team is tasked with owning advanced TV buying, there can be completely different definitions of goals and success, creating more confusion about ATV channel strategies. 

Secondly, as teams start moving between programmatic and ATV platforms, the same audience data is often unavailable. Digital platforms have hundreds of data sets available to buyers, while newer advanced TV pathways often have a select few. The maturation of digital versus ATV needs to be considered when comparing how much data is available within each. 

While hundreds of data sources may not be necessary to drive a brand’s ATV strategy, marketers are not limited to a purchase data option or an auto data option. Digital teams understand this intuitively, but this may be a new way of thinking for those with traditional TV backgrounds. After all, traditional TV buyers are accustomed to actioning on more limited data sets.

Overcoming data barriers to ATV success

Addressing these complex challenges starts with brands being aware of the audience definition disconnect between linear and digital buyers. Marketers must factor this into how ATV plans are developed, staffed and executed. 

Marketing teams are developing more awareness about the data available to plan, buy and measure against in ATV. One method is through cross-team sessions, during which marketers bring together traditional TV and digital buyers so that all sides understand the full scope of available opportunities. This enables the brand to define audiences more granularly than in a traditional linear buy and establish KPIs and expectations for that context. 

Finally, marketers are encouraging ATV partners to integrate more preferred data sources. Brands and agencies consistently using the same data as they do for their video, display, social and audio channels can make ATV part of an omnichannel, audience-first approach.

Increased understanding and data access throughout the ATV campaign lifecycle significantly help brands. Brands will deploy consistent audiences across channels, utilize different data sets than competitors, access future-proofed data and develop a more refined understanding of incrementality. Altogether, the right audience data strategy delivers increasingly robust TV measurement and an improved understanding of campaign performance. While many factors go into a successful ATV, brands that align campaigns around an audience-first strategy are winning with viewers and with stakeholders.

Sponsored By: Alliant

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