Audiences Respond to Ads Catered to Them, but TV Campaigns Haven’t Caught Up

Addressable advertising offers that option

Addressable TV is currently available in more than half of all TV-owning households. Getty Images
Headshot of Kevin Dean

Do you sometimes feel like TV advertisements are talking directly to you? In today’s advertising landscape that may, in fact, be the case. Addressable TV gives advertisers the ability to define an audience based on data and serve different ads to that particular audience regardless of the program they are watching.

CEOs are constantly thinking of how to better deliver their messages while personalizing the user experience, and this holds true in TV. The old days of the whole family sitting down in front of the TV to watch a program are numbered to a few big events during the year. The new reality is for different household members to watch different programs at different times on different devices. And brands are struggling to segment those individuals. In fact, desktop and mobile ad revenue surpassed TV for the first time last year. According to a recent article published in Adweek, TV ad spend is predicted to decline by half a percent in 2018 to $69.87 billion while digital advertising is expected to grow by 18.7 percent this year to $107.3 billion.

The reason? TV advertising is perceived to be less relevant, less measurable and less effective than its digital counterparts. But in an age where brands need to leverage every channel to build meaningful interactions with people, TV is not being left by the wayside. Brands need to adopt and implement the digital mindset into their TV campaigns. That means using data and technology to make better marketing decisions and create more personalized messages that resonate with the target audience.

We’ve all been there. We tune into ABC’s Scandal on Thursdays, only to spend 25 percent of the time watching commercials—most of which are irrelevant to us. But what if during that hour, we saw fewer but more relevant commercials?

For example what if, as an environmentally conscious professional who has two sons that enjoy outdoor activities and a wife who would love to go on vacation, I only saw commercials for a sporting goods store, a hybrid car and an all-inclusive Caribbean resort. But my next-door neighbor who just had her first baby, works from home and has a luxury shoe obsession saw commercials for diapers, a high-speed internet provider and a local shoe warehouse. Is that even possible?

Addressable TV gives advertisers the ability to define an audience, based on purchase history, subscriber demographics, behavioral data, third-party data, etc., and serves different ads to different audiences, regardless of the program they are watching. This allows brands to combine the massive reach of TV with digital-style targeting. This type of advertising means you and your neighbor could be watching Scandal at the same exact time, using the same exact cable television provider, and see completely different ads.

Just as people are changing the way they consume TV, it’s time for the television advertising industry to get smarter and allow brands and agencies to change the way they advertise via broadcast channels.

Just as people are changing the way they consume TV, it’s time for the television advertising industry to get smarter and allow brands and agencies to change the way they advertise via broadcast channels. Digital advertising has evolved over the last decade, becoming smarter, data-driven and more personalized. Now TV is catching up and helping brands deliver the same level of relevancy and have a more meaningful conversation with their audiences. And it’s a win-win for both advertisers and consumers. Advertisers can reduce wasted TV ad spend and better reach their intended audience while consumers will have a more pleasant viewing experience, receiving a higher rate of commercials that matter to them.

Find the perfect audience

The key is balancing the right level of granularity without sacrificing scale. For example, let’s say an advertiser wants to target women between 35–45 years old, who have full-time jobs, at least two school-aged children, lease a vehicle that costs more than $50,000 and have taken at least one vacation to Mexico in the last six months. Chances are your audience pool is small, but if we remove a variable, the audience pool will grow.


Kevin Dean is Experian’s president and general manager of marketing services.