Ask most ad buyers about the advantage of using connected TV (CTV) to achieve “incremental reach” and they’re likely to tell you that it’s all about cord-cutters — reaching those people who will never be reached on linear TV. What they don’t realize though, is that it is just a part of the story.
Most viewers have both a linear pay TV subscription and a streaming one, so they are watching a mix of streaming and linear. This hybrid viewing pattern is likely to remain in place for years to come and advertisers need to adapt their plans to reflect this reality. Making this all the more complicated is the fact that time spent on streaming vs. linear may vary tremendously from viewer to viewer and from week to week. Tentpole events like sports events, awards shows or a major news story can send linear numbers skyrocketing, only to have many of those same viewers focus almost exclusively on streaming in the weeks ahead.
That is why savvy TV marketers are realizing that they can be far more effective with their incremental reach efforts, targeting linear TV viewers as well as streamers to understand which households have been overexposed and which have been underexposed on linear.
The Linear Dilemma
The disparity in the number of hours viewers spend watching linear TV highlights the problem with running linear-only campaigns. In order to reach “light” TV viewers, brands often feel the need to increase the frequency of their TV advertising. This means that “heavy” TV viewers start to feel bombarded by the campaign while light viewers often slip by, unreached or barely reached.
Putting most of the ad spend against “heavy” viewers is also ineffective, especially given that heavy linear TV viewers are not the brand’s target. It’s all too common to see a brand spend millions to expand reach during a campaign with unsatisfactory results. Often the additional spend only achieves a low number — like 10% — incremental reach among heavy viewers despite receiving around 50% of the total campaign spend during that same period.
Standing Out in a Crowd
Another issue brands face when running linear TV campaigns is that if a brand is advertising on a particular show because that is where it expects to find most of its target audience, it likely means that its competitors are targeting those same shows, too. Just think about the amount of packaged-goods commercials you see during live sports events or consumer services during an awards show.
That means heavy linear viewers are getting saturated by ads from the brand and its same-category competitors, which makes it more difficult to stand out and potentially wastes valuable ad spend dollars.
Thus, brands need to understand how frequently their ads run on the same linear TV shows as their competitors and then ensure that the ads run in the clear via streaming TV, where they can reach viewers who may not have been adequately reached on linear.
Using ACR to Gain Incremental Reach
The solution is the use of automatic content recognition (ACR) data on CTV. With ACR, a technology that identifies content played on a media device or within a file, heavy TV viewers who have already been amply exposed to the campaign on linear will receive fewer impressions on CTV. Additionally, because CTV ads are targeted at a specific household versus everyone watching a specific show, the ads for these heavy TV viewers are not surrounded by ads from category competitors and should thus be more memorable and have more impact. Meanwhile, light TV viewers also see the campaign on CTV, only with greater frequency, to make up for the fact that they have been underexposed or even unexposed on linear.
Given that viewers are likely to be watching a diet of both linear and streaming TV for the foreseeable future, brands that want to ensure that all audience segments are reached in the most efficient and effective manner would do well to look at ACR data as a way to bring balance to an often unbalanced system.