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Paving Our Path Forward: Innovating Linear Ad Delivery for the Future, Now!

4 minute read | Kelly Abcarian, General Manager, Advanced Video Advertising, Nielsen | June 2020

When most consumers think about their media consumption, they’re quick to recall their favorite TV program, a new video game they’re into or the last Netflix original they saw. Rarely—if ever—do ads enter the conversation. This isn’t surprising, but it undersells the significance that ads have in consumers’ lives.

In fact, TV ads have always had a significant influence on consumers. TV ads are the trusted and proven medium to reach an audience, and they’re the engine to drive consumer confidence in spending. Today, they are even a primary motivator for driving viewing of premium content, as they educate, inform, captivate, engage and are trusted. And that doesn’t change, even when so much else does.

Now, amid more change than many of us have ever endured, businesses, institutions and organizations are resuming operations after being sidelined by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) for much of the spring. Advertising can help them get back on track, but messaging will need to be pinpointed, relevant and reflective of the changes we’ve experienced this year, as well as those that may still be forthcoming.

Consumer Change Drives Need for Advertising Addressability  

Prior to COVID-19, the TV industry was grappling with the shifting ways in which consumers watch video, with people in homes with OTT devices spending nearly 20% of their TV time streaming content. When COVID-19 hit the U.S. in March, it served as an accelerant to this behavior change.

During the week of June 1, consumers spent 126.1 billion minutes streaming video: that’s up 49% from the prior year.

As consumers stick to their changed behaviors, we need to accelerate our transition toward addressability within the linear TV space. 

Addressability is already helping brands effectively engage with the right consumers across digital, local cable and connected TVs. However, live national broadcast and cable television remains the dominant video medium, reaching 80% of TV-watching adults. When it comes to daily tune-in, U.S. adults watch nearly four hours of live and time-shifted TV. Looking at the total opportunity that it represents, there is a potential of 56 minutes of addressable ads per day. One way to scale addressable TV is through smart TVs which represent 53% of U.S. TV households, thus opening the door for faster scale of addressable TV.

As marketers and publishers start to think about their advertising plans for the remainder of the year and 2021, they have the opportunity to be far more precise, accountable and meaningful than they ever have before. The precision of addressable TV will allow them to be smarter with their messages, ensuring that they connect with their consumers in new ways and help reignite the economy post COVID-19. 

Driving Personalized Brand and Human Connections

The word authenticity gets used quite a bit in marketing today, but it’s tough to make a national campaign feel authentic to a specific consumer group. We also know that brand loyalty is fleeting, with only 8% of global consumers saying they’re committed to the brands they buy. If consumers don’t feel connected to the brands they buy, that stat will certainly continue trending downward. Addressable TV ads allow marketers and programmers to deliver an array of different messages to different viewers to help build those connections—connections that resonate with specific people who have specific needs and goals. Addressability also means there is a potential for less waste. By engaging specific audiences effectively, you can run fewer ads, thereby improving the viewer experience. It also holds the promise to reduce the risk of viewer fatigue that happens when audiences burn out from seeing the same ad, topic or cause too frequently. 

Most importantly, addressability provides a level of flexibility which is a paramount need for brands and marketers today. While the novel coronavirus pandemic has held the world in its clutches since late last year, it’s not the only challenge the world is facing. The array of change the world is facing significantly ups the stakes for marketers, but at least with addressable technology, they have the ability to develop and deliver messages that are directly meaningful to the audiences they want to send them to. 

If history has taught us anything, it’s that we are inspired to do our best when hard times roll in. Innovation is hard. It’s even harder amid a global pandemic, rising unemployment and widespread social unrest. But these factors speak volumes about why we should evolve the way advertising is delivered—collectively, as an industry. Ultimately, addressable linear advertising will deliver the flexibility, value and consumer connection that advertisers have long desired.

This article was originally published in Advertising Week 360

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