When Everything Is TV, a Convergent Ad Strategy Is Necessary

The balancing act between linear, streaming and everything else

As the media landscape continues to evolve, the world of TV and how viewers consume content is rapidly moving along with it. Compared to even a few years ago, consumers now have more avenues than ever for watching content, and the space is only getting more crowded.

This means marketers also have more ways than ever to reach consumers, whether it be through traditional cable/broadcast, free ad-supported streaming television (FAST), advertising-based video on demand (AVOD), connected TV (CTV), virtual multichannel video programming distributor (vMVPD), over-the-top (OTT) and more.

But no matter how viewers may get their content, to them, it’s all just TV.

This is evident in how consumers are defining “TV” today. According to DIRECTV’s recent report, 54% of consumers define TV as channels like NBC, ESPN and HGTV, while 52% define it as streaming services like Netflix, Hulu and HBO Max. More than half of consumers (51%) define TV as news and sports programming, while 49% say it can be defined by the episodic series they watch on a TV screen and 48% describe it as programs they watch live as scheduled.

With consumers toggling between linear and digital to get their “TV” content, marketers must adopt a consumer-like approach to advertising.  

Coordinate campaigns to maximize reach

Today, national linear TV and ad-supported streaming services reach nearly the same amount of people across ages 19-49, with national linear TV reaching 80.1% and ad-supported streaming services reaching 79.8%. However, less than 15% only watch linear or ad-supported streaming exclusively—while over 65% watch both.

National target rating points are in short supply, meaning marketers are spending more on linear TV advertising, yet settling for smaller reach. This, in addition to under-delivery and sellouts, continue to be constant pain points.

With the proliferation of streaming, many marketers have shifted major dollars away from linear in an effort to better reach the audiences who have diversified their consumption habits. However, this comes with its own challenges​ due to limited ad-supported premium inventory and reports of fraud.

For marketers to max out potential reach in the current environment, it’s best to invest in strategies that use both linear and ad-supported streaming services or risk being stuck at 80% reach, according to Nielsen NPower. With access to both linear and streaming, marketers can reach a far more diverse audience and set themselves up for success in a crowded space.

Create consistent audience segments

While traditional linear TV doesn’t offer the same targeting capabilities of streaming and digital, addressable advertising can provide that much needed assist in helping marketers reach the right audience at the right time, with no waste.

Today, about 60 million linear households, or roughly 80% of total pay TV households, are enabled for addressable ads. Additionally, many addressable providers now reach across linear and streaming TV inventory. This means that the historical issues marketers had regarding the scalability of addressable ads are much less of an issue today.

Marketers must change their thinking to a more holistic approach when it comes to how they tackle audience segmentation. Working with partners who can identify and reach consumers across linear and streaming rather than reaching them in silos is key.

Whether using advertiser CRM data, syndicated third-party data or a basic demo like ages 25-54, using the same target definitions and strategies allows for more personalized and effective advertising experiences for viewers. It also allows marketers to better manage frequency and control for overexposure. By combining the scale of linear and the precise targeting of digital, addressable can provide marketers with the ability to home in on the right audience and improve their scale, efficiency and reach overall.

Streamline planning, buying and reporting

As the self-service aspect of digital and streaming has become standard practice, those in the linear space have also prioritized expanding self-service capabilities.

As linear and digital meet, having one view of audiences helps improve efficiency with consolidated buying, reporting and billing in a single platform. It also helps ​reach more people by adding millions of homes of targeted TV reach to CTV campaign​s, controlling for audience overlap between household addressable and other channels,​ and measuring outcomes holistically across household addressable and CTV.

Last year, DIRECTV Advertising partnered with Yahoo to make linear addressable inventory available in the Yahoo DSP along with CTV inventory, providing marketers with actionable data across both linear and CTV campaigns. By investing in both linear and digital and streamlining planning, buying and reporting, marketers can take advantage of what both have to offer and maximize efficiency and reach. 

Drive efficiency and reflect today’s landscape

As the space continues to grow and the definition of TV remains up to interpretation, marketers need to invest in channels that cut waste, drive efficiency and maximize impact. This is especially true as 64% of advertisers report that efficiency is critical as economic conditions impact media spend over the next two years.

To maximize reach and manage frequency among TV viewers, marketers should consider a convergent TV approach, finding a balance between linear and streaming to best reflect the current landscape and set themselves apart from the competition.

Drew Groner is a deeply dedicated and highly experienced sales leader with more than 20 years of experience in media and advertising. In his current role as SVP, head of agency and client partnerships at DIRECTV, he is directly responsible for leading the sales organization and maximizing revenue across DIRECTV Advertising’s addressable, digital and data-enabled solutions.