For all the talk about digital disruption, linear TV is still king for its combination of quality long-form content and reach.
While digital video and addressable have made inroads, they’re still only a fraction of the $70 billion in ad spend that goes to linear. But the TV landscape is changing rapidly, and AI technologies promise to take on many of the challenges media buyers face in getting more from the living room box.
Let’s take a look at where linear TV is today…and where things will evolve in the near future.
TODAY: TV-Aware Digital
The Situation: Linear TV is still, according to David Jaye, CMO and executive product lead at IBM Watson Work, “the only place to buy a massive, multi-segmented audience.” But since viewership is shifting, linear TV is more expensive and competitive for a smaller audience that is still targeted by standard age/gender demographics.
The Challenge: Advertisers are turning to digital to enhance the reach and efficiency of their TV campaigns. But if digital campaigns are not TV-aware, advertisers risk wasteful and fragmented spending. For example, random duplication across TV and digital campaigns can eat up about half of digital TV spend.
How AI can help: Even today, big data and predictive analytics can not only reduce unbalanced frequency, but also deliver ads when people are most likely to want to see them. TV-aware campaigns can combine viewing data for linear TV with digital viewing data and then analyze it via AI tools for optimum predictive ad delivery. Notes SAS global director Wilson Raj, “AI can predictively optimize audience segmentation while buying media space.”
IN 3 YEARS: The Promise of Multi-Device Realized
The situation: TV will likely remain the major way to reach large volumes of people. But as more and more TV viewing comes through over-the-top devices, it will be more measurable and attributable thanks to person identification tech and increased integration with IoT devices in the home.
The challenge: “Ironically, this may increase the importance and value of linear TV in the overall marketing mix,” says Rocket Fuel CTO Mark Torrance. Viewers increasingly won’t distinguish between linear and digital TV, so the key for marketers will be to adopt and execute an audience-centered strategy across linear and digital TV.
How AI can help: Big data plus AI will help advertisers avoid skewing automatically to one screen. TV-aware will increasingly be the norm, enabling unified campaigns built on precision and defensible underlying data that substantiate claimed KPIs. Advertisers will find audiences where they live, work and play through cross-screen analytics and targeting, knowing which ads viewers have been shown and when, reducing random duplication and its effects on campaign reach and engagement.
IN 10 YEARS: The 1:1 Reality
The situation: Nobody knows what TV will look like in 2027, but one thing people agree on is it will be more complex, more fragmented and more individualized. “We may all have glasses or micro projectors that make high-quality viewing available in many more places,” says Torrance. Interestingly, the concept of “linear” may still exist, though in more digital form, as there will be a place for curated sequential content.
The challenge: Consumers will be exposed to even more messages across even more screens, creating more ad clutter. A more fragmented audience will require a more personalized approach. Advertisers will not only need to reach people one-to-one, but that messaging will need to be specifically adapted to that person’s needs in the context of their viewing, taking into account the ad message, the time, location and what else may be going on.
How AI can help: Precision targeting will provide actual one-to-one engagement. AI can detect the context where an advertiser’s message can break through and resonate, creating innumerable opportunities to have a seamless, appropriate impact. “Within 10 years, we might have technology that allows for dynamic product or advertising placement within shows,” says Torrance. Real-time multi-variant testing will allow individualized advertising to be modified on the fly depending on what a viewer is responding to, helping inventive marketers cut through the noise.
About the Sponsor
Rocket Fuel’s been using AI in marketing for over 8 years. Explore the magic of predictive marketing at RocketFuel.com.
Animation by James Provost