In today’s attention economy, when a viewer willingly chooses to watch a program, advertisers have to respect that choice. If they didn’t, it would have drastic consequences.
“Attention is a resource; a person has only so much of it,” wrote Matthew B. Crawford in a 2015 New York Times column. It’s true—and consumers have no shortage of choices to spend their TV viewing time. When they do make a choice, it should provide value, otherwise they’ll find value elsewhere.
Opportunities to sincerely engage people today are few and far between, and in order to make the most of those opportunities to engage, marketers must consider the attention economy as part of their overall media plans. Effectively reaching a consumer today is a three-tiered problem: the device the viewer is using, the show the viewer is watching and when they watch it.
TV advertising should react to dynamic consumer behavior
How a viewer directs their attention should mirror how advertisers approach their audiences. The challenge is that every consumer does this in different ways. For an advertiser, that means there are thousands of permutations of their viewers. They may want to reach an auto intender segment, but each viewer in the segment has a unique path to content.
To get back to the humanity at the center of TV advertising, marketers must return to the basics of the job: observing human behavior and reacting to it. Consumers are people, more than a collection of habits. Marketers must understand how people are watching TV today, across linear, OTT, VOD or any other means.
There are the advanced cord cutters who only watch on-demand; people who tune into linear TV for a set amount of time; and those who fall somewhere in the middle, sometimes watching live and sometimes on-demand. Whether they’re logging in through a set-top box or another device, no viewer is content to sit within one walled garden; everyone has their own stable of services and providers. Marketers need to continue the conversation with viewers across devices in a way that makes sense. If marketers don’t account for dynamic consumer behavior in 2020, their heads will be in the sand.
What’s the right combination of channels, and how can a marketer frequency cap for those viewers? How can advertisers orchestrate a TV campaign across channels, dynamically reacting to consumer behavior without oversaturating?
These are a few basic tenets of orchestrating TV campaigns around human behavior:
1. Approach planning in a truly holistic way. Start with audience and data, and demand an understanding of the audience segment viewscape. Learn how the percentage of audience spreads across channels, and then find out about how they overlap. Holistic campaign planning isn’t just about getting different teams to work together. It’s about deduplicating an audience.
Platforms have to react dynamically to consumer preferences to more accurately respect and respond to allocation by consumer. If you’re a marketer, you need to allocate to mirror that allocation of attention.
2. Don’t buy in siloes. Buying from only one provider is easy, but no one provider reaches everyone, and marketers can’t drive their businesses forward this way. The same goes for buying just one medium—no one medium can provide complete access to audiences. When people cord cut, for instance, many still keep an over-the-air connection to local stations because they still want local news, or maybe they buy a service like Hulu to access live TV. Marketers need to understand how viewers move from app to app and view premium versus local content.
Dynamically reacting, or the ability to optimize across channels and devices, means learning what worked in one area, and letting it influence what’s done in other channels.
3. Be your own scorekeeper. TV is about measurable business objectives, but it’s also about a media buy and reconciling your audience. At the end of every campaign, marketers should have a holistic story about their money. Each provider will tell the very best version of how a marketer’s money was spent, but stories from various channels may not correlate. Marketers must demand unified reporting across devices and segments in order to become their own scorekeepers. Otherwise they can’t learn. Even with the best of intentions, results will be skewed at the service provider level, device level or otherwise.