Addressable Ads Found To Go To The (Literal) Heart Of Engagement

Yes, the phrasing is a bit tongue-in-cheek, but it’s true that a recent study of addressable TV ads’ engagement power found that they could actually affect the activity of the old ticker.

Let me backtrack a bit here.

Finecast, GroupM’s U.K.-based addressable TV platform that enables targeting across on-demand, linear and live-streaming TV environments, is conducting a three-part research project with research agency DRG designed to shed light on how television viewers’ behaviors and perceptions are changing, and what opportunities that presents for advertisers.

Among other points, the “Thinking Inside the Box” study is exploring attitudes toward addressable TV and personalized ads.

Results for the first phase, in which ethnography sessions, surveys and workshops probed viewing behavior changes and perceptions of advertising, found one in three viewers confirming that they’re more inclined to watch TV ads that are relevant to them.



But it also once again confirmed the flip side of data-based targeting and messaging: 52% said they find personalized ads intrusive.

It’s clear a middle-ground needs to be identified, which is where addressable TV advertising can play a vital role,” sums up Finecast Managing Director Harry Harcus in a blog post.

Enter Phase II, in which cognitive neuroscience professors from UCL’sDepartment of Experimental Psychology were tapped to probe viewers’ behavioral and physiological reactions to addressable.

The core result was positive indeed for addressable advertising. Participants liked addressable ads nearly four times more than non-addressable ones — and also remembered addressable ads more accurately, according to Harcus.

“Of particular interest were the changes to heart rates,” he adds. “Measured via a biometric wearable device, the results showed that participants’ heart rates dropped further when watching addressable ads versus those that weren’t relevant to them. This is a sign that the participants were exhibiting greater external focus — much like we would a ‘heart-stopping moment’ —  indicating they were more focused on ad content that was relevant to them.”

(BTW, the results also underscored the engagement power of big screens. Participants who watched TV ads — not necessarily addressable — on larger screens also had lower heart rates than those watching ads on smaller devices.)

The research also found that personalization via addressable is more impactful for some types of ads than others.

Specifically, participants liked automotive and “gender” ads more if they perceived them as relevant to them. But there was little difference between responses to addressable versus non-addressable ads when it came to the broader range of brand ads categorized as “family.”  

Takeaway: “Making assumptions based on the data advertisers already have on consumers doesn’t always align with the viewer’s interests,” so it’s important “to incorporate a range of factors and data to create a clear understanding of what will engage them,” notes Harcus.

The researchers also interviewed 11 senior advertising executives about the status of addressable and TV in general.

These executives said that while television advertising tends to be viewed as expensive, “there are huge opportunities, and addressable will help to open them up — not least for brands that wish to advertise on TV for the first time,” Harcus reports. “Many also said they believe ads need to combine engaging creative with relevancy to make the perfect combination — a sentiment backed up by the workshops, which showed 57% saying that a creative TV ad is a great one.”

The top challenges for addressable as gleaned or confirmed by this research to date:

*The perceptions that addressable is expensive to buy and that tailoring creative for it can also be expensive.

*Lack of measurement — i.e., how to prove it’s worked.

*Deciding how it should be used effectively for different advertisers and campaign objectives.

*Deciding how granular the audience should be.

* Lack of knowledge in the industry: It’s technically complex, requiring more education.

And here are the top addressable opportunities identified:

*Potential for increasing the power of TV via new opportunities.

*Ability to extend the reach of traditional TV advertising.

*Opens the door to TV for brands of all sizes, via geolocation targeting, ability to reach specific audiences.

*Provides extensive opportunities for creative relevance.

*Enables the use of more specific audiences in campaign planning (e.g., behavioral or purchase-journey data).

*Ability to tailor content specifically for different audiences.

This summary doesn’t include all the findings from this research to date, and the third phase is underway, so look for more insights to come from this ambitious project.

2 comments about "Addressable Ads Found To Go To The (Literal) Heart Of Engagement".
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  1. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, October 9, 2020 at 5:29 p.m.

    Karlene, I buy into the idea that consumers will respond better to commercials that are about products or services that they are interested in but it's impossible to evaluate study findings of the sort you are describing without knowing more about how the survey ---or studies--- were conducted. For example, the distinction between an "addressable ad" and a "non-addressable ad"---what is the distinction? Is it that the latter is about a product or service that the consumer has not the slightest interest in---in which case I would say---,"So what". Or is this about how the identical ad message was conveyed to the consumer? If, so, what's the difference? There are other questions---such as sample sizes, whether the respondents were invited to watch the commercials , etc. all of which have a bearing on how one interprets to results. I'm not suggesting a detailed explanation---that would be a turn off for most readers---but at least a little bit on key subjects such as how it was done, what definions were used, etc. ---even if only a sentence or two was expended to clarify---would be a big help.

  2. John Grono from GAP Research, October 12, 2020 at 5:48 p.m.

    Karlene, I was wondering whether you could expand on the "52% said they find personalized ads intrusive.".

    Most questionnaires provide response options rather than Yes/No.   Most questionnaires along these lines would have something like Very Instrusive, Somewhat Intrusive, Occasionally Intrusive, Not At All Intrusive, Don't Know/No Response.

    As it stands this could be taken as "A majority of reposondents said they find personalised intrusive" which seems to be at odds with the lede of "Addressable Ads Found To Go To The (Literal) Heart Of Engagement", given that intrusiveness is hardly a characteristic of engagement.

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