Wednesday, December 28, 2011 Marketing Research Blog
Navigating the Media Landscape by David Schweidel

For all the attention paid to digital and social media as the new kids on the block, television advertising continues to make up the lion’s share of marketing expenditures. This allocation is supported by figures on media consumption, showing that while online media consumption is growing, the bulk of media is still consumed through a television set. While television advertising may be delivered through the same screen, the landscape has changed considerably for marketers.

Serving up Targeted Advertisements

We’re all accustomed to online advertising being tailored to our actions. Advertisements are served up based on the websites that we’ve visited in the past. The underlying logic is that the websites that we’ve visited previously are indicative of our interests. If you’ve previously perused a school’s website because you were considering applying for an MBA, that interest is still present, whatever website you happen to be on. Why not apply the same logic to television advertising?

The notion of addressable television advertising isn’t new, with companies including Visible World and Simulmedia already taking lessons from the realm of online advertising to deliver the right message to the right consumer. Geographic and demographic targeting are just the tip of the iceberg. The next step is leveraging behavioral data – what programs you watch, which advertisements skip, and what you purchase – to discern which advertisement television viewers are really interested in seeing.

Building a Bridge to Digital

Using television commercials to drive traffic to websites isn’t new. In the past, television advertisements would include URLs, encouraging viewers to go online. While this was an early attempt to couple television advertising with the digital platform, it looks primitive compared to what’s happening today.

Networks have embraced social media, including connecting fans on Twitter and via mobile apps to enhance the viewer experience. At the 2011 TV of Tomorrow NYC Intensive, Shazam unveiled a partnership with Pillsbury. Using the same automatic content recognition that the Shazam mobile app uses to identify songs based on a small snippet, television viewers can use the same app and browse recipes that include Pillsbury Crescents. Rather than treating television advertising, mobile apps and social media as distinct marketing platforms, we’re seeing the use of multiple forms of media to deliver value to consumers. The convergence of these media has also given rise to novel methods of deriving consumer insights, with firms such as Bluefin Labs and Networked Insights leading the way.

Implications for the 2012 Election Cycle

The latest estimates from Kantar Media’s Campaign Media Analysis Group peg spending on television advertisements at between $2.5 and $3.3 billion for the 2012 election, due in part to the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United decision. Social media played a pivotal role in the 2008 presidential election and is expected to do so again in 2012. With marketers building campaigns across media platforms, will the same hold as outside interest groups and political parties try to market their candidates in 2012?