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Addressable TV Opens More Doors Than You Might Think

Posted by JT White on Jun 25, 2019 1:00:00 PM


image credit: Ola chahrour/

For those of us who’ve lived in “TV-land” for most of our careers, the word “measurement” can bring up feelings of frustration, confusion and even longing. We are tantalizingly close to knowing exactly who we’re targeting, though taking full advantage of addressable TV still feels elusive.

The promise of addressable TV reads a lot like the promise of digital: the ability to reach known people with the right creative, surrounded by the right content. In previous blog posts, I’ve outlined what we can learn from digital. Here, I’d like to do a deeper dive into what the ability to target and measure can truly unlock:

1. Redefine your understanding of audiences.

The standard demographics used to build audiences are a byproduct of what was possible for Nielsen to measure. While this was a good decision by Nielsen at the time, things have evolved. With set-top box-level data, device ID data and IP addresses, what we know about audiences now is so much more interesting.

That we can have a sense of who a person truly is, beyond their general demographic, means we can define audiences by interests, time of day, preference to certain foods or teams, or even serve creative based on the current weather. In other words, looking at addressable audiences only as a better way to access standard demos completely overlooks why these capabilities are so exciting.

2. You’re not required to use existing currency.

I’ll be honest. I think we can do better than backing into a GRP, CPP or CPM. “Because that’s how it’s sold” will not work with addressable in the future. This is good news for media sellers of the future! Counting the eyeballs that see your ad is just one of the ways you can charge.

With addressable comes the promise of a “device graph” – a set-top box IP address tied to a phone device ID. This is huge for advertisers. It allows us to ethically track and compare behavior of exposed and non-exposed consumers. You could even think of it as moving beyond “exposed” and into “affected,” which opens the door to performance-based advertising – changing the game for all parties involved, including consumers.

3. Your creative matters more now.

With addressable audience buys, we can tailor messages more narrowly than before. Content is more available than ever, and that means people are increasingly accustomed to seeing what speak to them. Sure, Budweiser horses will always land during the holidays, and a Spike Jonze music video will likely turn heads. But as we expect more from TV content, we expect more from ad creative as well.

If you take advantage of addressable audience targeting, it only makes sense to cater your creative to that specific audience as well. Luckily, people want to like your ad! It’s up to us as an industry to make it easy for them to do so.

4. Video is not video.

Watching video on TV, laptops, tablets or phones is not the same experience. If you’re mimicking your stream on each platform, you’re missing an opportunity to better serve your customers, clients, and ultimately your bottom line. Users engaging with each medium are different enough to justify serving not only different creative but a different ad entirely on each platform.

It may be a heavy lift technologically, but it’s a worthwhile one. Adopting this practice now means you can limit the technical implications in the future.

Audience and measurement are intrinsically married to one another; if you can’t measure who you are reaching, then you’re missing the benefits of reaching them. As addressable hits its stride, we have an incredible opportunity to expand our minds about its potential. I’d love to see us all take advantage of it.

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