Measuring Migrating Audiences (And Budgets)

It’s fair to say that the first half of 2020 has left brands grappling with quite a few “firsts”, leaving many of them to determine the best, most cost effective way forward. Unfortunately, when it comes to thinning out budget line items, advertising is usually the first to get the boot. While there may be an abundance of available eyeballs as more people stay home, brands across categories are belt-tightening, and there are naturally fewer dollars available (in the short run) to capitalize on this increase in audience size. 

The kicker is, historically brands that cut or reduce spending in times of economic downturn have seen declines in brand metrics at all layers of the funnel for years following. On the other hand, brands that continue to invest in advertising during the same climates reap the greatest benefits when the economy rebounds. Although this sounds like a risky play, these benefits far outweigh the short term loss. To hedge this perceived risk appropriately, brands need even more visibility into exactly where their marketing dollars are going to be sure their efforts are generating sufficient ROI.

So, what’s the solution? What advertisers need are partners that operate on a common currency across channels, and measurement tools that tell them exactly what’s working, what’s not, and where to go from there.

When Viewers Fly the Nest
For example, looking at sports viewers during the pandemic we can clearly see the necessity for solutions that can identify audience segments and quickly recognize changes in their viewing patterns. With live sports on pause, these coveted viewers migrated to other content types, requiring a change in strategy for advertisers who still wish to reach them. Having access to segment-level data allows advertisers to effectively reallocate their spend to optimize against our ever-changing new reality. A few months ago, using a custom-defined segment analysis, we found that while sports fans are missing their live events, they’re still looking for action and competition in the programs they’ve shifted to. Brands wishing to reach this audience can quickly shift dollars into these content types while awaiting the return of Big 4 sporting events to TV screens around the country.

Without advanced measurement, these audience segments would simply remain elusive. By matching first and third party audience data to commingled Set-Top Box and Smart TV viewership data, brands can reach highly specialized audiences beyond age and gender targets. It means brands can inject flexibility into their marketing initiatives and optimize their media investment as effectively as possible.

Insights to Outcomes
Tying TV to measurable business outcomes (like in-store visits, online conversions, and sales lift) is the holy grail for brand advertisers, and where the greatest opportunity for increased efficiency resides. As we lean into a recession period, many sources, including eMarketer, predict a notable increase in ecommerce both during the pandemic and after. Brands wishing to capitalize on this trend should be looking to optimize media investments across historically siloed buying channels. True cross-channel solutions allow them to capture the impact of every impression sent to a device, understand exactly how their investment is working, quantify which elements influence purchase, and discover new paths to conversion across linear and digital. 

Linear TV is far from dead, but the chaotic reality that we’re operating in has given advertisers an opportunity to take a step back and look at their budgets through a more efficient, productive, and measurable lens.