The Upfronts Need an Upgrade

Addressable can help solve the challenges of a fragmented TV landscape

Over the next couple of weeks, media companies will host in-person Upfronts for the first time in over two years. You’ll hear about the iconic IP, watershed moments, breakthrough tech and the data bringing it all together. And while all of that is worth celebrating, it’s the quiet triumphs that are most exciting. 

Looking back over these last two years, TV is what united us through the extraordinary journey—bringing us critical information when we needed essential updates, and entertainment when we needed timely escapes.  

TV has proven to be “undisruptable” even with viewership fragmenting across multiple screens, platforms and services. We all know how powerful TV can be, but as advertisers face headwinds and struggle to place budgets within premium TV content, they need to adapt their strategies accordingly. 

Enter addressability 

From the start, addressable was revolutionary, enabling marketers to combine the power and scale of TV with the technology and data of digital. Many advertisers across verticals jumped at the opportunity to cut impression waste, gain valuable audience insights and drive tangible results for their business.  

While marketers are still successfully using precision targeting to build awareness, drive visits to online or store locations and increase sales, others are turning to addressable to help solve the challenges of the fragmented TV landscape.  

Leveraging DIRECTV’s set-top-box viewership data, we are able to see firsthand the impact that shifting viewing behaviors have on advertisers’ traditional linear campaigns. After running hundreds of analyses, we quickly discovered that impression distributions were strongly skewed: About 80% of the impressions are going to about 30% of households. This resulted in heavier TV viewers seeing an ad hundreds of times over the course of a campaign, while others never encountered the commercial at all. 

While the overall linear campaigns may appear fine, advertisers inadvertently are paying higher effective CPMs to reach lighter viewers, while bombarding the rest with the same message over and over. Clearly not the best use of media dollars. 

The solution? Layer in proven addressable technology. Addressable commercials are only triggered when the intended audience is watching TV (and aren’t reliant on predetermining which program they might be watching). By using frequency thresholds and the ability to serve ads to specific households, addressable can limit the heavier viewers from continued exposure, while dramatically improving reach against lighter viewing audiences.

The result: Brands can increase their target reach by an average of 7-10%, while driving down their effective CPM by 50%, all while more evenly distributing exposure and impressions across a brand’s audience. 

Strategic and efficient media buys

After launching addressable a decade ago, DIRECTV has continued to innovate to make marketers’ media buys more strategic and efficient. We have seen brands use this tactic successfully in many different ways. Some are supplementing their national TV investment by targeting broad age and gender demographics, resulting in guaranteed demo impressions against a large audience.

Others are taking it a step further, using viewership data to identify and reach households underexposed or completely missed by their national TV campaign. Working in concert with linear, this helps to redistribute impressions and ad exposure to lighter viewer audiences, while providing the brand incremental reach.  

As we go into this year’s Upfronts, marketers are facing a universal problem—the scarcity of premium impressions. The solution is in utilizing data and technology to reach audiences more efficiently. Addressable, across both linear and connected TV, is one effective approach. TV may be undisruptable, but today’s TV marketplace needs a new look and addressable is the answer.

As SVP, advertising sales for DIRECTV Advertising, Jason Brown has the privilege of leading both a national and local sales organization focused on addressable solutions across linear and digital inventory.