Even as growing shares of marketing budgets have shifted to digital media, consumer packaged goods brands, with few exceptions, continue to depend on television. The quest now is to harness TV’s reach more efficiently, and ultimately integrate it into a cross-platform audience model based on buying audience, regardless of screen, rather than buying programming or content.
Few are in a position to know more about the rapidly evolving uses of advanced audience data than syndicated retail-sales-data suppliers.
In recent phone and email interviews with Audience Buying Insider, Srishti Gupta, president of the IRI Media Center of Excellence, discussed the progress and remaining challenges in harnessing consumer purchasing and other beyond-demographics data in television — particularly in a programmatic environment.
As context, Gupta cited the results of projects conducted for 29 brands, across six product categories, during the year following the launch of IRI’s TV planning and optimization platform in October 2014. After scoring a household database against client brand/competitor criteria using purchase data, IRI (working with Rentrak) captured by-second viewership information from 210 DMAs. It then evaluated the effectiveness of past and current campaigns using the purchase and viewership data, and optimized buys continuously on a network, day-part and series level in an interactive tool updated monthly or with raw data provided to the media agency.
Brands saw a 23% average gain in media efficiency and combined savings of $115 million. “The ability to append that data on a household-by-household basis for television and then reallocate inventory accordingly, as we have seen, can result in a 20 to 45% increase in ability to reach your target. That’s a huge impact,” Gupta says.
Asked how she would characterize the current status of appending advanced data and automating TV buys, Gupta says: “I think the understanding of the need to bring data sources other than just age and gender demographics into television is pretty far developed now. Many networks are pulling [advanced data] into their [inventory offerings] so that buyers can better target their audiences — for example, to reach not just women 18 to 34, but women in that age group who are heavy buyers of a particular kind of product or even brand.
“That part of the equation has been taken care of,” she continues. “Where it isn’t scaling as much is in premium inventory, which is still very much sold on a national basis. Currently, marketers often find that they can improve their targeting with data, but won’t necessarily have the best inventory to go along with that. Both sides of the equation have to work for it to truly scale. So we’re seeing CPG marketers testing, but they’re not yet able to use it at scale in television.”
While data-driven programmatic buying is happening in addressable, at this point, “that doesn’t provide the scale” that many CPGs require, she says. “I believe that the opportunity is much bigger with layering on these additional data sets in linear television. Testing OTT and other platforms is important, but for marketers that have most of their budgets in linear TV, getting greater accountability and efficiency there has to be the priority.”
Further, since TV is sold in packages, both the data and programmatic components will need to be in place across supply-side players and their programming to enable true scale, she points out.
“So it’s going to take some time, and it’s going to be advertiser-driven,” Gupta says. However, she adds that advertisers’ greatly increased demand for ROI accountability is “pushing everyone,” including the agencies and inventory providers, to overcome the logistical challenges and their own business model concerns sooner rather than later.
Asked how much of an impact programmatic capabilities and advanced consumer data will have in this year’s upfronts, Gupta says that while IRI clients are expressing “strong interest” in programmatic TV buying, “the approach in 2016 is likely to continue to be ‘test and learn,’ with a strong focus on measuring the results versus the performance of other strategies.”
However, advertisers began in 2015 to experiment with TV planning based on consumer purchasing data, “and that is going to impact buying and negotiations in 2016,” she says. “Networks and agencies are also recognizing this, and are working with us and others to test out purchase-based or behavioral targeting-based TV buying.”
Looking forward, from a targeting perspective, both addressable TV and OTT may potentially provide solutions, she notes, citing the example of TV planning using household-level targeting and exposure data now available via set-top boxes.
Overall, Gupta says, “We’re seeing increasing desire to move away from demo- and age-based targeting. As digital media have led the way for custom audience targeting and [fast] attribution-based measurement, advertisers are looking for similar solutions and accountability for TV.”
“With digital spend rapidly growing and projected to beat TV in the near future, and experimentation with addressable TV and OTT,” she adds, “there’s an increasing demand both for cross-platform, as well as TV, measurement.”