Tag Archives: television


I was fortunate to attend GABBCON (Global Audience Based Buying Conference & Consultancy) in Los Angeles in early November, with the day focused on “The Future of Television and Video.” In the company of other agencies, brands and sales reps from various sectors of the media world, it was an interesting day of debate, conversation and learning.

The long and short of things is that the world we live in continues to get more complicated for marketers − duh. With the proliferation and adoption of technology into our lives, we live in an on-demand world, and because technology allows us to live that way, advertisers are more and more able to reach the right consumer at the right time. People-based buying has been incredibly buzzy this year, and will only continue to be as brands continue to feel the ROI squeeze and demand more accountability for their spending.

In the morning sessions, it was a focus on television − linear, IP delivered, VOD, addressable, PTV, SVOD, FEP, CTV. Enough acronyms? TV buying has become increasingly complicated due to changing viewing habits. Traditional linear buying remains the mainstay, but advertisers are showing steady growth and interest in these more audience-driven buying methods. Overall, sentiment among the group was that traditional television still has its place, driving mass awareness, but augmenting with other buying techniques has shown an upside for various brands. The other universal truth − programmatic or any data-driven TV buying is not truly programmatic; there is nothing easy or automated as the name implies.

Columbia outerwear shared an interesting case study regarding its spring campaign in which the company had a reduced budget but raingear sales goals to meet. At a time of year when rain is prevalent nationwide, but a budget that cannot afford its national plus-18 market approach, Columbia employed a programmatic TV solution. It has defined PTV as a combination of addressable, high-index linear and DVR/VOD, and connected.

With strong distribution as Dick’s Sporting Goods, Columbia used credit card data to target those who had previously shopped at Dick’s, in addition to a weather trigger to most efficiently employ its budget. In the end, this was a more cost-efficient approach that increased (relevant) reach, drove lifted consideration, and increased rainwear searches and product page views.

One of the more thought-provoking parts of the conference was centered on the idea of attention. Sony Crackle posed the question: “Is attention the new currency?” Sony Crackle commissioned a study with Nielsen on the effectiveness of its Break Free product, where viewers have a lower ad load within their Crackle original series. The results revealed that buying the more premium offering drove greater attention; viewers were seven times more likely to recall the ad than in their traditional pod. Hulu has been operating with this mentality for a few years now with its product offerings of user-pick creative carousel, sponsored viewing (commercial-free after :60 spot) and interactive spots. While there is a premium for these deeper engaging units, Hulu has reported stronger results compared to its standard ad pods.

Over the last few years, I’ve become more critical of the value of an impression. When you look at a yearlong campaign and the total number of impressions purchased, how meaningful is that number?  Honestly, not much. With banner blindness, ad avoidance and multitasking, just how valuable is an impression if a consumer isn’t noticing you? While I don’t think we’ll ever fully transact on the metric of attention, as an industry, it’s time to take a harder look at our methodology of measurement and what kinds of impressions we really want to make.

How to channel your reach to today’s “TV” viewer

You can still reach the people who watch popular television shows. Just don’t use television to do it.

Many people are saying that we are in another Golden Age of Television. I can’t argue. It’s difficult to remember when there has been as much good, and varied, episodic programming available at any given time.

I’m even watching. I’ve just finished the most recent seasons of two great shows and right now I’m neck deep in two others. Just finished season 4 of Showtime’s Homeland and season 3 of Netflix’s House of Cards. I’m currently in the middle of AMC’s first season of Better Call Saul and HBO’s amazing six-part documentary, The Jinx. The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst.

I know. There’s nothing terribly notable about any of that. They’re all very popular shows, watched by many. But for me, the interesting thing is how I’m watching them. I saw downloads of Homeland on my laptop, mostly on airplanes. House of Cards came via Netflix and my Roku. I’m catching up with Better Call Saul using my cable company’s On Demand service after AMC has actually broadcast the episodes. And I’m seeing The Jinx on HBO GO, HBO’s anytime streaming service.

So, the final count is one via laptop, two using Roku and one from On Demand. Four series, and I haven’t watched a single episode of any of them on “traditional television” as we know it. And I’m 60 years old. Not exactly a “digital early adopter.”

Does that mean that − outside of live sports, news and special events − there’s no way for a marketer to reach someone like me using popular episodic television programming? Well, yes and no. Or maybe the answer is maybe. Traditional TV ads certainly won’t work. Netflix, Showtime and HBO don’t even offer them, and the ads on my On Demand replays of Better Call Saul get the “fast-forward” treatment every time (sorry Capital One and CarMax).

But I believe there are other routes to a television viewer’s mind. Because in today’s world of binge-watching, digital-streaming, on-demand television, many viewers don’t stop at passively watching the episodes. They like to read about them, talk about them and argue about them. Online. With the thousands of others who share their passion for the latest dastardly deeds of Francis and Claire Underwood, the infuriating loose-cannon behavior of CIA Station Chief Carrie Mathieson, or the true meaning of Rust Cole’s latest monologue (I’m wide open to any help I can get on that one).

But that’s just the beginning. Twitter is always filled with discussions after episodes of popular shows have aired. And I can’t even imagine how many subreddit threads are devoted to Game of Thrones. In fact, if all of the sites, discussion boards, threads and digital space devoted just to Game of Thrones were amalgamated in one place, it would constitute a “Westeros Internet” unto itself.

There are reviews, discussions, updates and news about television all over the Web. I know one of the first things I want to do after an episode of Better Call Saul or Homeland is go to The AV Club for the latest review and discussion of said episode. So if a marketer wants to find me and other Homeland fans, that’s where we’ll be – again and again. And that’s where you can market to us, if you do it right.

Which means not just throwing mindless banner ads or annoying pre-rolls at us. Understand why we’re there and tap into it. Use our interest in and devotion to Sons of Anarchy or Mad Men or True Detective or whatever else it is we’re there to talk about and engage us. Odds are good we’ll pay attention.

The point is, today’s popular episodic television constitutes a culturewide shared experience as much as it ever has. But instead of gathering around the water cooler to talk about last night’s installment of Twin Peaks or Hill Street Blues, we’re sitting at our keyboards or grabbing our smartphones to discuss the hilarious white linen “Matlock” suit Jimmy McGill (aka Saul Goodman) wore at the assisted living facility last Monday night.

Shared experience can also be shared passion. Which can be an open door for marketers who understand who’s watching what. And why.