The Future of Television Advertising Is Addressable

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The upcoming American presidential election has brought into sharp focus the ability of technology to bring messages to large, targeted groups of people. Imagine a way to directly target political ads to various households by using data derived from their own purchases and other activities. Now stop imagining, because this technique, known as “addressable” television advertising, is already here.

The New World of Addressable TV Advertising

The technology that makes addressable television advertising possible has actually been around for some time, but only recently have marketing firms began seriously exploring the implications of data-driven TV commercials. Prompted by the success of targeted Internet advertising, these marketing firms have now leapfrogged into the world of television.

Addressable television advertising is fueled by many of the same technologies and data collection methods that make targeted Internet advertising possible. Marketers can research information such as income, family makeup, vehicle leases or even contracts for cellular service to design the perfect blend of advertising for a particular household. By reaching out to a chosen group, return on advertising investment is much higher and ad budgets can be stretched much farther.

Furthermore, the feedback gained from this targeted advertising can be extremely useful in planning future ad campaigns. Just as with Internet advertising, marketers can analyze viewer reactions to certain types of ads, making it easy to adjust the advertising stream based on the response of the recipient.

Politics, Playtime and Pizza

The implications of addressable television advertising are staggering. On a national scale, these data-driven marketing tactics could feasibly sway entire elections if “swing” voters are targeted by various campaign information designed to appeal to the importance they place on various issues. Of course, this also means that the candidate with the most money has even more of an extreme advantage in any election than is the case currently. Instead of expensive marketing studies, candidates can analyze voter trends with relative ease using data shared every time an individual or family watches TV, then purchase time based on their findings. Major pay-TV providers Dish Network and DirecTV have partnered to provide valuable viewer information that political marketing teams need to inform their advertising investment decisions. The PR teams behind candidates Sanders, Clinton, and Trump have used this strategy to determine what shows target audiences are watching and tailor their messages accordingly. DTV’s new All-included pricing is introducing more viewers to the potential of Internet-enabled TV sets and devices, growing the pool of personalized media-related data even further. 

Of course, the implications for addressable television marketing go beyond the idea of politics. With this form of marketing, advertisers can now reach anyone who watches television instead of the relatively small percentage that may be using the Internet. It may be a great way to reach children who are currently protected by parents from too much Internet activity. Every child that watches television could be a target of addressable marketing during their favorite programming. Additionally, everything from kayaks to pizza advertisements can be pushed toward teens and others when their shows are airing.

The “Creepy” Data Factor?

Companies such as Eyeview are already touting the benefits to advertisers of targeted television marketing. However, many experts are concerned about the availability of so much data to any marketer who wishes to use it.

In some ways, the use of big data to target families for particular advertising seems a bit creepy, like a chapter of 1984. On the other hand, targeted marketing makes economic sense, especially considering how it could lower the cost of goods and services for families of all income brackets. It could also be used to help families learn about services and benefits about which they might not otherwise know.

In the end, it will remain up to consumers to guide the marketing industry in determining how successful this type of advertising becomes. With positive feedback from viewers, it is likely that addressable television advertising will continue to grow as a viable form of marketing.