The Role of TV Advertising in Ecommerce | Hannington Tame
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Marketing Life Cycles 1: TV is Dead, Long Live TV

Anyone worried that the pace of change in digital marketing is about to slow need not worry. Digital is really now becoming a proxy term for what is in reality an explosion of new marketing channels and techniques. Omni-channel, personalization driven by big data, marketing automation and power plays between the providers of content, audiences and delivery are defining this world. And all are seasoned with a reassuring dose of tactics that are distinctly 20th century; TV advertising and the grandfather of digital marketing – direct marketing.

In this first of two parts we’ll look at the resurgence of television advertising, and the lessons it’s learned from digital. Check back next month for the concluding part on catalogues and direct marketing.

The world can’t seem to decide what to do about television. TV is dead, TV is having a Renaissance, TV is dead again. The proliferation of streaming and the dominance of Netflix and its imitators have sparked predictions of a future of thousands of internet TV channels where all television is viewed on demand. Not much room for traditional TV advertising in this dystopian future. Yet at the same time the first thing an eCommerce start up will spend their series A funding on is a TV campaign!

If you hold data, you hold power. Marketers are constantly looking for ways to target their campaigns and communications to reach those elusive would-be buyers. Companies that, as their main priority or as a happy accident, accumulate lots of data about consumers are able to sell and use it to their advantage. Porn website PornHub, for example, has mounds of data collected on users’ internet geography that it sells to data-hungry marketers (strictly nothing incriminating though). So imagine how valuable the data from TV companies is.

Sky is the first to throw their hat into the ring. The viewing habits of their subscribers, as well as their purchasing habits, have been transformed into AdSmart, the new way to advertise on TV. AdSmart uses Sky’s data to target ads to specific households – basically, the ads you see on Sky channels will be different to those your next door neighbour sees, even if they’re watching the same programme. This enables advertisers to talk specifically to their target audience, whilst retaining the prestige of TV advertising. One day soon, maybe even the good old BBC will be selling the same service.

Sky is anxious to insist that AdSmart levels the playing field, which it does. SMEs and local businesses can now advertise on television safe in the knowledge that they are reaching a specific audience. They can have their ads shown only to a regional audience, can target niche consumers like cat owners, and, significantly, only pay when their ad is seen.

By providing more data-driven TV advertising, Sky is leading the charge against the death of TV. They’ve broadened their potential customer base by offering solutions for smaller businesses as well as improving the services for big companies who may well have been reducing their TV budgets. With online advertising providing fully traceable conversion and ROI, it was vital that television followed suit. With so much demand for data, Sky’s AdSmart is only the very beginning of personalized ads on interactive TV.

Yet more than providing data-driven advertising, personalized TV ads fill a gap that Google can’t. Having always been tech-focused, Google has neglected what has always been the very core of advertising: emotion. AdWords ads have been effective for many reasons. They are democratic, allowing small companies to compete directly with larger companies. They are targeted, appearing on specific searches for users within a buying funnel. They are also as cheap as you want them to be, using an enticing payment model at odds with the ‘pay and pray’ model of traditional advertising.

And yet Google thinks that its entire model for paid search will be finished within 2 years. Why? Because other providers are finding ways to mix what is great about PPC with ways to be creative and emotive. Ads on social media are targeted and data-driven, but also provide a capability for design, creativity and lead generation that Google can’t. Similarly with personalised TV ads. With services like AdSmart, marketers now have more data at their disposal and can not only target their consumer base but tug at their heart strings. By contrast, the closest Google has come to providing emotive advertising is on the display network. Not quite the same, is it?

TV is fighting its way back to life. The content of the shows themselves have been lauded for a few years. TV has now found a new way to capitalize on its great content and rich seam of data in order to remain a competitive entity. In the future there will be ways to buy directly through TV ads like we do today through Twitter, YouTube, as well as, possibly, talk specifically to individuals. Check back next month for why digital is clogging our letterboxes up with catalogues. But until then, TV is dead, long live TV.

Click here to read Marketing Life Cycles 2 on Direct Mail

James Minter

James Minter is a partner at Hannington Tame, the digital CEO and C-Suite headhunting specialist.

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