At recent industry events I’ve heard a similar theme - advertisers are asking for guaranteed business outcomes for their TV ad spend.
On its surface, this might not seem unfair. Smart media sellers are accountable to their clients, and they work hard to help them achieve their marketing goals. If they don’t, their advertisers will simply go elsewhere.
Everyone should measure outcomes, if they can. The great work being done by Data+Math and others is a boon for the industry. Measurement of outcomes is important and provides media buyers with concrete proof that their spend is money well spent, and it is useful data to justify continued investment and/or reallocation.
But media sellers being asked to guarantee this are, generally speaking, a step too far. After all, it’s the marketer’s job to persuade audiences to buy. Even if the TV seller does everything right, its ability to generate sales hinges on a host of factors outside its control.
In fact, a study from Nielsen Catalina found that 47% of the sales lift created by an effective TV ad can be attributed to the quality of the creative -- an aspect networks have nothing to do with.
If media sellers are asked to guarantee results they don’t actually have control over, they shouldn’t agree to do so. And if they want to provide real accountability, they should focus instead on guaranteeing metrics they actually have control over.
Conversions are a team effort - and responsibility should be split accordingly.
To find metrics that make sense for TV sellers to guarantee, let’s first break down which actions are required to create a conversion -- and which parties are responsible for executing them.
In essence, the path to driving a sale from a TV ad is comprised of four key steps:
- Tuning -- Before anything else can happen, the media seller needs to make sure people are tuning into their content. If no one tunes in, the ad is dead on arrival. It is entirely the network’s responsibility to drive tun-in.
- Opportunity to View -- Once the content is turned on, someone has to be there to see the ad. Again, the network is in the best place to affect this outcome. If they’re programming compelling content, people will stay in the room and tuned to the content. If not, the viewer is more apt to walk away or tune away while the ad is running. Meanwhile, it’s the advertiser’s responsibility to run their ads in the right places, and use creatives that keep viewers in the room. This requires strategic foresight and a thoughtful analysis of TV viewership data.
- Attention -- Advertising is obviously most impactful when the viewer is actually paying attention to the creative. Attention is primarily captured through compelling creative by the advertiser, but is also impacted by the attention they are paying to the surrounding programming.
- Conversion -- The advertiser needs to persuade the customer to buy its product. It’s not enough to have a message people pay attention to. It has to effectively push the consumer to take action. This part is entirely out of the network's hands.
Finding a guarantee that works.
The steps to conversion are executed by a combination of media seller and advertiser efforts. Media sellers have greater responsibility earlier in the process, with advertisers picking up the baton at the end. In the middle, both sides play a role as responsibilities shift.
Rather than trying to guarantee a late-stage outcome, which sellers don’t have control over, they should be asked to focus on the aspects they can honestly promise to deliver. In practice, this means guaranteeing that the advertiser gets the opportunity to persuade the viewer.
Put crudely, it’s the media seller’s job to put butts on couches, and advertisers should evaluate them by how well they do this. Otherwise, marketers will be holding their network partners to unreasonable standards and throwing out perfectly good media sellers due to their own inability to turn the viewer into a paying customer.
With currently available technologies and solutions advertisers have all of the metrics they need to hold their media sellers accountable in a way that is accurate and fair for both parties. By measuring how people actually watch TV, networks and brands know when consumers are prime for conversion. From there, it’s up to the advertiser.