How direct-to-consumer brands are leading the way for TV

Two children watching TV.
Meg Garnett Coyle is the VP of communications at TVSquared.

It is estimated that, as consumers, we see between 6,000 – 10,000 ads on a daily basis, served to us across a range of platforms and screens. With so many ads, each varying in relevance to us as individuals, it’s little wonder many are “tuned out.” Studies have shown that 26% of global consumers ignore branded digital content entirely.

Brands of all sizes are on the hunt to cut through the noise and reach increasingly fragmented audiences effectively and consistently. The volume of competition is one challenge; another is changing audience behaviours, and how advertisers can adapt. This is especially true of TV advertising.

Traditionally, advertisers could rely on the fixed attention of audiences, and had a firm idea of who their target audiences were and when they could be reached. But TV audience behaviours have changed – a factor that was accelerated by the pandemic. The traditional audience model is fragmented, with viewers watching programming across different screens, devices, and timescales. Advertisers need to adapt so their campaigns reach their total TV audience whenever, wherever, and however they watch.

To keep up with these changes, direct-to-consumer (DTC) brands have successfully leveraged TV advertising. Uniting the expectations of metric-heavy digital advertising with TV’s mass reach, DTC brands are leading the way, showing how to reach audiences with relevant ads, while using data-driven insights to prove performance.

Making an impression

Familiar with the measurement, attribution, targeting, and real-time analytics provided by digital advertising, DTC brands brought these expectations to their TV advertising campaigns. This demand for “always on” advertising couldn’t be met by one TV format alone, and required a converged approach – uniting all linear and streaming TV platforms.

Converged TV has created an ecosystem where impressions can finally act as the new standard metric. Impression-based advertising gave DTC brands a consistent view of campaign performance and effectiveness across multiple platforms, and an understanding of how the TV ecosystem works as a whole. The drive towards impression-based buying provides advertisers with a high level of accountability, and an unprecedented view of key analytics. Brands and advertisers can now understand reach, frequency, incremental reach, and business outcomes – such as app activations and online/offline sales – for converged TV campaigns.

This “single source of truth” allowed DTCs to operate incredibly flexible campaigns. Able to use these insights to reallocate impressions across different media partners and publishers, campaigns could be optimised while in-progress to ensure maximum outcomes and reach. In  an era of squeezed budgets, where it’s essential that every ad dollar works, the ability to access analytic-backed evidence of campaign performance is vital – not just a “nice to have.”

Let’s get personal

Mirroring DTC converged TV approaches to reach audiences is one thing, but reaching the right audiences is another. With audiences fragmenting, DTC brands understood the need to know what their audiences looked like (and which were most likely to convert), and to use this intelligence and insight to engage with them.

The TV advertising space has transitioned from a data-scarce to a data-rich market over the last few years. With advertising able to be tied directly to the household level, audience intelligence and insights now go much further than just ‘age and gender’ identifiers. In addition, the continued rise of streaming has made audience-based targeting an increasingly viable function of TV advertising campaigns.

Increasing numbers of brands are leveraging detailed audience insights to serve personalised ads, with examples including location-specific product or brand advertisements that direct viewers to their nearest store. Using data insights to reach viewers with relevant, personalised advertising results in more effective campaigns and happier, less ad-fatigued consumers.

Bringing it all together

Keeping campaigns flexible and cost effective is a concept that digitally-native DTC brands were well versed in. It’s another expectation they carried over to the TV landscape, coupled with a continuous test-and-learn approach to optimising campaigns in motion.

It also dovetails with a shift toward greater personalisation, a trend that has been fuelled by the ability to accurately measure impact and harness the resulting data to inform testing. 

Having seen the successes of DTC brands, more traditional advertisers – who have been leveraging linear for decades – have adopted their approaches. Always-on audience analytics, impressions, and cross-platform measurement tools have broken out of the digital advertising space and are now the staples of effective converged TV advertising. How DTCs have approached TV advertising has changed the status quo, establishing a test-and-learn mentality, more accessible measurement, and continuous optimisation as staples of the TV advertising ecosystem.

How these changes in outlook and approach are impacting TV is becoming clear. Definitions of what TV is are changing, with 75% of those surveyed globally saying that they define TV as including streaming and linear channels, with over 70% agreeing that all forms should be sold on impressions. In bringing their expectations around analytics, targeting and proof of performance, DTCs have changed the future of TV advertising for new and existing brands and advertisers alike – and for audiences, too.

Interested in hearing leading global brands discuss subjects like this in person? Find out more about Digital Marketing World Forum (#DMWF) Europe, London, North America, and Singapore.

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