In Canada, a nation of video omnivores, the lines between linear TV and online video will continue to blur thanks to transforming consumer viewing habits and constant evolution in tech. The screen is becoming less important to the viewer, who owns more connected devices with each passing year, often using them simultaneously. But the device consumers watch their content on does still matter behind the scenes to us, the media planners and media buyers. The necessary consolidation of the two very detached media buying procedures—linear TV and digital video— can’t happen soon enough for us. But their convergence is not keeping pace with the consolidation that’s happening in the mind of the viewer, and the implications of having them apart could be impacting brands’ ROI. Finding creative ways to couple TV and digital in our media strategies today, before they converge, could allow us to leverage both, reach and retargeting.
Ever since the inception of the world wide web (when video didn’t even exist there), online banner space was bought independently from TV, much like OOH, radio, newspaper and magazine advertising. The online silo was constructed then and from that evolved a unique method of media buying. In media advertising agencies today, when a linear TV buy is negotiated and contracted, the purchased ad space does not include automatic ad activity on any other digital screens, unless the user is streaming a live feed from the station’s app or website. Otherwise, all TV ads and online/digital ads are purchased separately. Due to the increasing complexities of online media buying and reporting, many agencies created completely separate departments of digital specialists, further defining digital video and TV apart from each other. We are seeing the lines blur year after year as technologies such as programmatic, addressable and targeted TV emerge, and many North American companies are now working on bringing TV and digital together, but their convergence will remain a slow process.
The two processes don’t speak the same language when it comes the measuring and tracking. Many marketers have cut TV from their budgets across all categories, only to realize the unmeasured impact the medium had on digital activities. The distinct and trusted—but separate— advertising research resource for the online medium, comScore Media Metrix, was formed in the early 2000s and the measurement of online media evolved independently from TV. Today, television doesn’t have the ability to be measured with the same metrics that we’re measuring digital with. Online video allows for marketers to measure ROI through dozens of metrics, such as video completion rates, CPA’s CPE’s and so on, that simply don’t translate verbatim to TV. The technology to capture that data in TV is still in its infancy: eMarketer forecasts that by 2018, programmatic TV ad spending will still only account for 6% of total TV ad spending in the United States.
That absence of data that GRPs don’t provide can make measuring TV and seeing its ROI a challenge. When we buy, measure and plan in silos, we learn in silos as well. Without the convergence of these processes—in buying and in analyzing—marketers are missing key information that could help to build a more impactful campaign. It allows marketers only to be reactive, and not proactive when planning the media campaign strategy.
We are seeing a course correction among brands as they reinvest ad spending to TV. Just this year, brands such as P&G, Groupon and Quebec grocery store Maxi all joined the growing list as they announced a return to TV ad spending. Why? Chief Brand Officer of P&G Marc Pritchard explained why the CPG family of brands was scaling back Facebook retargeting and reinvesting in TV, echoing a concern that is common among many brands: “we targeted too much, and we went too narrow. And now we’re looking at: what is the best way to get the most reach but also the right precision?”
Digital media may have a leg up on TV with measurable ROI and retargeting capabilities, but TV provides an asset that digital media can’t replicate… reach. Marketers need to find creative, innovative ways to use TV and digital media together to tap into the strengths of each medium now, while the two are still en route to convergence. The precision and tracking capabilities that we love and desire about digital are made even stronger when coupled with the massive reach that TV provides. And the relationship is symbiotic; TV plays an integral role in brand awareness that digital media, by design, does not satisfy alone. But the medium also has a proven positive impact on consumers’ digital behaviour, with many brands seeing a lift in search and social engagement when TV is coupled with digital media.
When TV and digital media do come together, advertisers will benefit from the huge value of measuring, tracking and optimizing all video campaigns, regardless of the screen they are viewed on, in the satisfying media world of real time; a time when we can learn how to connect with our customers in the most meaningful way. TV and the web will become seamlessly integrated and linear TV will cease to exist. Technology will bring bigger and better data about consumers. Advertisers want and need this integration now, their insatiable thirst for ROI and customer information will never go away. Today there is value in TV and how it drives digital behaviour for brands. Marketers and their media agency partners need to come up with clever and creative ways to use the two together until they are no longer separate.