The Big Bang: TV and Online Data Join To Form New Media World

The breadth of audience data for TV has grown tremendously in the past few years. The industry that has primarily used age and gender for targeting for decades now has more data than ever available. Today marketers can easily target on TV consumers who fly frequently on Delta (based on their credit card activity), are loyal Heineken drinkers (based on shopper-card information), and drive a Lexus (based on auto registration data). 

But it’s the major recent M&A announcements in the data industry spurring the Big Bang in media: the powerful joining of online/digital audience data with TV viewership data. This union of formerly very disparate data sets has significant implications not only for TV targeting -- but, even more important, for the structure of media planning and execution.

For years TV has targeted largely through programming context, providing broad instantaneous reach for top-of-funnel brand awareness. Meanwhile, digital has targeted through audience data, providing unicast targeting to drive immediate action. The two worlds have different metrics, different measures of success and different methods of media planning, buying and selling. All of these differences have made some remark that “TV is from Mars and digital is from Venus.”



As the TV industry learns to speak of delivery of audience impressions to active shoe shoppers, and the digital industry learns to speak of demographics and campaign ratings, the two worlds fuse for the better. With joined data and a developing common vocabulary, TV and digital begin to share common audience targets, common reach and frequency goals, and common measured outcomes.

More importantly, this joining of data transforms marketing campaigns from a TV, digital, mobile or social-centric paradigm to a consumer-centric paradigm. Rather than each medium attempting to reach the target audience through its own data silo, the common data approach enables all media to work in concert and surround the consumer with a well-coordinated campaign. Each medium can play to the strength it brings, whether generating engagement with the brand or driving an immediate action.

Even with the best-matched data, common audience targets and outcomes, marketing initiatives will not achieve their goal without coordinated execution. And programmatic platforms are starting to come together to support this much-needed coordination. Digital video execution platforms are beginning to talk to linear TV execution platforms, which talk to addressable TV platforms. Like the world of TV and digital, these respective platforms are learning to understand one another, all through the common language of the data.

While it’s still early stages, the Big Bang of data has happened.  The new world is taking shape.

3 comments about "The Big Bang: TV and Online Data Join To Form New Media World".
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  1. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, March 6, 2015 at 2:01 p.m.

    Walt, we've had data of this nature since the 1960s. It came from services like Simmons, TGI, BRI and MRI which asked human respondents what TV shows they watched and what products they used, what brands they preferred, etc. Astute media planners have utilized such single source data for many decades to evaluate TV program genres, cable channel types, dayparts, etc. however, the time buyers, who traditionally operate as separate fiefdoms and brooked no interference by planners and others never utilized such information. OK, so now we are about to be engulfed with still more data---much of it coming from "big data" sources which obtain highly misleading set top box set usage ratings, then correlate this with information from other sources to tell us whether homes that tune in to a particular TV show are above or below par as users of detergents, light beer, parakeet seed, cake mix, etc. and, even, what brand they favor. Since set usage ratings do not tell you whether the target consumer who lives in the home is watching and this is especially true among younger homes with kids, some magical adjustment must be made to deal with this problem---which does not exist with the old fashioned, non-electronic sources like Simmons, MRI, etc. The second question is will the networks, cable channels, syndicators and TV stations suddenly switch to this type of data as their new sales "currency" and whether the time buyers will use it---probably as an adjunct to their standard and----I agree-----overly broad and simplistic age/sex demos. We shall see.

  2. dorothy higgins from Mediabrands WW, March 6, 2015 at 4:44 p.m.

    Sing on, Ed. We have always had the "below the fold" Nielsen audience data for more than gender and age but since the guarantees are age and gender they have been planning tools not buying tools. And, a further impediment to implementation is the hackneyed system of buying by daypart. We have been planning with detailed behaviora/censusl data for decades and programmatic may be the sharp kick that the networks and stations need to catch up to the late 20th century at least.

  3. Judy Franks from The Marketing Democracy, March 8, 2015 at 12:32 p.m.

    The promise of data-driven media buying decisions via programmatic is an enticing one. So far? I am seeing more abuse from both the buyer and seller sides. Buyers are using programmatic as a tool to drive down costs and get cheap tonnage. I had one marketer confess to me that they use programmatic to create "cheap scale" so that they can afford the cpm premiums for content they really want. On the seller side, we keep reading of fraud: adding low quality pages and debating whether a marketer's ad is ever seen by a real human. Programmatic is a tool to enable us to more efficiently leverage data and insight that has been around for decades (agree with other comments above). But, will marketers and the media use it properly? Or drive the media business into the ground with it?

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