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Beyond the Demo: How to Drive Measurable Tune-In — and Viewer Connections — With Data-Driven Marketing

When it comes to TV viewers, we’ve never known so much about who’s watching, how long they’re watching, on which devices they’re watching and so much more. As a result, marketing to these viewers has never been as complex, or as challenging, as it is today.

The not-so-dirty little secret is that it should be — and can be — less complicated.

Despite the conglomeration of highly detailed consumer data out there, the old-fashioned, broadly defined “demo” still rules when it comes to advertising on linear TV. But as brands demand more and better information about their audiences and the media they use, why should TV be different from any other platform?

The truth: It’s not different.

By harnessing the power of digital media and the trove of information it has unleashed, marketers can now connect with TV viewers just as they do consumers of any other media channel — as individuals, not just demos. And with all that data about consumers, and with unprecedented, direct access to them, marketers can bolster tune-in results as well as impact non-linear programming.

What’s more, by tying together robust online and offline consumer data, marketers can apply real-time insights and performance metrics across screens — something that is not possible with a TV-only approach.

Ric Elert, president of Conversant, the digital media arm of Epsilon, explains its approach: “We determine which individuals will be receptive to a show and exactly what they are like. Then we go out to our vast network of individual profiles to find all the people who match up with those characteristics and drive them to a given show.”

Epsilon and Conversant work with a range of TV networks to build enduring consumer connections, drive deeper engagement with viewers and deliver measurable results by employing data-driven strategies, person-level insights and marketing technology.

“With so much media fragmentation, the spray-and-pray technique is no longer efficient. TV networks need data-driven audiences to ensure their marketing is driving the best possible value and return on investment,” Elert notes. “Efficient marketing is all about knowing your audience, recognizing them across devices and tailoring your message to them, otherwise you’ll talk to the wrong person, waste money and create a poor experience.”

Consider the case of a cable network that wanted to drive viewership for the premiere of a returning hit, and to connect its digital marketing efforts to linear tune-in. A highly customized audience of potential viewers was built using data from a leading set-top box provider on 14 million subscribers. That data was modeled against a set of anonymous online and offline data on 200 million consumers. Both display and video ads were served to potential viewers. The result: Those who received the ad were nearly three times as likely to watch the premiere and 54 percent watched the series beyond the premiere.

But just how can TV marketers identify and reach consumers in a world where there’s so much media saturation and fragmentation — and so many devices?

The most engaged consumers come from a network’s first-party data. These are the “hand raisers” who marketers can reach through directly addressable channels like websites, apps and email. Marketers can learn the most about these viewers by teaming with a singular, trusted data partner that understands their behavior beyond just one platform alone.

Now, it’s possible to activate those first-party audience members for TV marketing campaigns across all media, extend the activation to millions of look-alikes, and tie those efforts back to actual tune-in for each individual, thanks to increasingly stable identity-resolution technology. In the past, digital identities were linked to cookies, device IDs or hashed email addresses, but those are prone to short lifespans and multiple identities per person. That means a marketer stands to lose the connection to an individual. Today, the best data partners maintain accurate and long-term connections to individuals, built on a combination of more stable anonymized identifiers such as purchases or home address.

Beyond the “hand raisers,” marketers should ask themselves how much they really know about viewers and the audiences they want to reach. Large-scale data partners — and only those with a proven track record when it comes to the all-important issue of privacy and data protection — can anonymously match millions of viewers to third-party data for a complete picture of these individuals.

In other words, by building audiences based on historical online and offline consumer data that’s updated in real time, and employing digital and traditional tactics, marketers can deploy the most efficient performance-based campaigns that address the TV viewer in a more personal way than ever — with messages that are personalized down to the very individual — and drive measurable tune-in results.

The age of one-size-fits-all advertising is over — even, it would appear, for the ever-powerful mass medium of TV.

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