IAG Ad Study Touts Geographic Targeting

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With TV and advertising executives anxious to quantify viewers' “engagement” in their content, a new study suggests geographic targeting may be the best way to connect with audiences.

When advertising is aimed toward people most interested in a topic, “the message is going to be materially more effective,” according to IAG Research Chief Strategic Officer Barbara Zach.

Gearing ads toward viewers in particular regions may seem intuitive, but many advertisers do not tailor their commercials for geography, and use national advertising to blanket the country. The notable exception is automotive advertising, where, for example, spots for SUVs tend to run in Snow Belt states.

To encourage more advertisers to think about local advertising – and shift that money to TV stations – the Television Bureau of Advertising (TVB) commissioned IAG to try to quantify “topic engagement,” which the research firm identifies as reaching people who are interested in the advertised brand or message.  IAG analyzed response to direct-to-consumer ads for cholesterol medicines in regions with high and low levels of high-cholesterol sufferers. The firm picked this slice of the DTC drug ads because the category does not spend heavily on local media. 

In regions with high-cholesterol sufferers, viewers reported higher recall for the ads and were more likely to take a “call to action” and inquire with their doctors about the drugs. These viewers were, the study reports, 33% more engaged than low sufferers. 

The results “suggest more advertisers should consider geographic targeting,” says Zach. “I can’t imagine why this wouldn’t extend to all advertising categories.”

Other research firms, including TV-ratings giant Nielsen, are working on measuring engagement. TVB President Chris Rohrs says the IAG study is significant because it is one of the earliest efforts to quantify the elusive metric. “There has been a lot of debate and dialogue,” says Rohrs. “But engagement has not been tested and quantified.”

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