Guaranteed Audiences: The Next Evolution of TV Ad Buying

While buying and making guarantees based on advanced audiences may be picking up steam, this concept is not new.

There’s no denying the complexity of today’s media ecosystem. Technology is changing the way consumers access content, and engaging the right audience requires more robust data and a deeper understanding of consumers. The advertising industry is at an important inflection point.

Media sellers have the ability to make guarantees on refined audiences, offering marketers the flexibility to tailor their strategies to identify their most valued consumers without sacrificing their broad reach objectives as enabled by age and gender. In fact, some broadcasters and cable networks have even secured deals on audience-based segments in the past few years. But the premise of audience-based buying received a major boost this year when NBCUniversal announced its intent to sell $1 billion of ad inventory during the upfronts based on advanced audience guarantees.

While buying and making guarantees based on advanced audiences may be picking up steam as a way to deliver more desirable viewers to advertisers, this concept is not new. For nearly a decade, Nielsen has been working with some of its most cutting-edge broadcast and cable network clients to define, identify and create audience segments that media owners can sell against and deliver advertisers’ targeted messages. Whether it’s the traditional female 18-49 demographic, or an advanced target such as a cereal-eating, health conscious, father of two, who drives a luxury sedan, owns two dogs and works from home, Nielsen data remains the lynchpin of TV media advertising.

For years, networks and agencies have focused on audience-based planning by leveraging hundreds of consumer characteristics—from income and ethnicity to pet, technology and vehicle ownership—to plan their media buys against specific audiences. These traits are based on real individuals who live in homes across America. And over the past five years, Nielsen has pioneered buyergraphic audiences, which combine demographic data such as age, gender, and geography with loyalty card and credit card spend information, and have become a standard for fast-moving consumer goods and retail ad campaigns.

The wealth of first- and third-party data, demographic data and buyergraphic insights is driving the evolution from audience-based planning to audience-based buying across the television ecosystem. Advertisers want to reach more specific audiences across all screens, and networks want to deliver on those targets. All the while, enabling each advertiser to bring its own definition of its intended consumer. Audience-based buying now empowers those media buyers to ask media sellers to deliver a consistent definition of the consumers they want to reach regardless of the television network.

Nielsen data underpins many of the systems and technologies that are used today to transact TV advertising. By working with both the buyers and sellers across the media ecosystem, Nielsen is continuing to help break down the walls between the technology used to operationalize the data. Advancements in linear TV will help broadcasters and cable networks streamline the process and drive consistency in audience segmentation across linear and digital ad inventory. At the same time, providing advertisers with the same level of confidence to transact on these audiences as they do today using age and gender ratings.