This Oscar Season, Think Beyond The Red Carpet

The Oscars awards ceremony was the fourth-biggest U.S .television event in 2015, attracting a global audience of 36 million-plus and raking in a record $100 million for ABC in commercial time for the three-hour show.

The show’s success follows the same premise of all television advertising—pay a premium price in exchange for a guarantee that your brand message will be seen by lots of people simultaneously.

And the crazy part is—it works! The Oscars, The Super Bowl, The Olympics—people tune in to these events and brands benefit from the advertising they invest in the content.

Still yet, things aren’t as simple as they once were. The Oscars awards show is a perfect example of a bigger trend in video advertising and consumption in today’s converged world.

Organizers predict more than 70% of tablet and smartphone owners will be on their devices while watching this year’s ceremony on TV. Further, a recent report by the Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB) found that of those viewers who regularly watch TV, 22% simultaneously stream video on their smartphones.



In today’s world, a single television event, regardless of its size, simply doesn’t command the the same focused attention it once did. Multitasking with multiple devices has become the new normal.

Media companies are making big strides in embracing the change. Many major TV events are now being live streamed and made available via OTT services. Networks are licensing their content to streaming services like Hulu and Netflix. Last year, ABC even launched a unique second-screen initiative to let viewers watch backstage coverage of The Oscars on their mobile devices.

These changes are having a big impact on marketers.

Today, brands have an unprecedented opportunity to amplify the overall reach of their campaigns, find previously underexposed audiences and measure the impact of their efforts. 

By combining data about what people are watching on TV (via sources like Nielsen and Rentrak) with demographic and behavioral data about the make up of TV show audiences (via first- and third-party sources, comScore, eXelate, Acxiom etc.), advertisers can reach their target audience holistically across all devices and content channels.

And they can do so before, during or after an event like The Oscars.

Using technology, we can now move beyond campaigns that focus simply on the demographic makeup of an audience and, instead, identify a far more precise and useful “strategic audience.”

For example, a luxury car brand’s advertising campaign can deliver far superior results if, instead of targeting programming popular with adults 35+, it targets consumers based on criteria about their income, home ownership and a preference for luxury goods.

We’re at a crossroads where we can direct ads to any combination of variables—age, gender, household income, responses to precise and highly brand relevant survey questions or, whether or not they tuned in to an awards show such as The Oscars.

Additionally, we’re now able to manage and eliminate waste.

Previously, a TV ad campaign might aim for each targeted viewer to see an ad only 3 times. However, because of imprecise targeting, the majority of that campaign’s budget would be wasted showing a small minority of those targeted viewers the same ad over and over again.

Today, with precision targeting, this waste can be greatly reduced. We’re able to better disperse ads across the right set of TV shows, while also allocating the optimal delivery of those ads across different screens. A campaign that only delivers to one screen suffers from diminishing returns, but truly convergent, cross-screen campaigns overcome this painful inertia.

Finally, by embracing modern measurement solutions, we can track the performance of our campaigns and then optimize our knowledge for future strategy. Did that $2-million-dollar investment result in a brand lift or offline sales results? As stewards of large advertising budgets, we need the answers. Now we can find them and use them to refine and iterate who and how we target in the most cost effective manner.

By all means, tentpole events like The Oscars will remain important to the industry, but the marketers that move the party beyond the red carpet will be the ones who stand out above the competition.

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