Fragmentation: Video’s Blessing and Curse

Posted 3 years ago by Josh Messinger

Consumers spend lots of time watching TV. That’s not debatable, and advertisers know it. But the number of channels available means that it’s much harder to reach a big audience. Factor that in with the difficult in reaching lighter TV viewers who spend less time in front of the tube, and marketers have quiet the challenge in front of them.

That much was made clear on Day 1 of the Videonomics Summit in Orlando, FL, where several industry leaders approached the issue from a variety of angles.

One of the key difficulties advertisers face right now is actually reaching consumers who barely watch TV. Approximately 40% of the TV viewing audience in the U.S. is responsible for 74% of the TV consumption, and these heavy viewers dwarf the light viewers, who account for an equal percentage of the population, but just 11% of consumption time. What’s worse, these light viewers are the people advertisers actually want to reach – they have jobs, families and disposable income. “You can’t physically be a heavy TV viewer and a have a full time job,” said Kris Magel, CIO of Initiative and the host of the summit, during his opening remarks on Monday.

Magel’s remarks cut to the heart of the fragmentation problem — TV is a popular medium, and it works as an advertising channel, but many of the people who see ads aren’t the right customers.

“You have this light TV viewer that you’re not going to catch on the nighttime TV news,” said Cathy Hetzel, Corporate President for Rentrak.

But there are ways of finding and reaching light TV viewers, and Hetzel pointed to Barack Obama’s highly regarded 2012 re-election campaign as an example.

The Obama campaign used advanced data to target viewers in previously un-explored spots. Where the typical political campaign buys time on 18 networks, Obama bought on 100. But that targeted approach has led to some myths, which Hetzel sought to set straight.

While the Obama campaign was 15% more efficient than a non-targeted buy, the campaign didn’t get that airtime for less money. “That’s a fallacy,” Hetzel said. “When we think of more targeting, we think they’ll spend less, but no, they’ll spend more efficiently” (The targeting actually brought $60 million in added media spend, according to Hetzel).

Indeed, fragmentation is actually becoming an asset for ad buyers when they can leverage data to find their audience as Obama did. A whole crop of “advanced-TV” companies have grown to help advertisers leverage data-driven media planning, including PrecisionDemand, AudienceXpress, and Simulmedia.

“TV historically has had an aversion to small spots,” said Dave Morgan, CEO of Simulmedia, during a fireside chat with Magel. “It was inefficient to go get [the small spots]. We didn’t have the system to find needles in the haystack, but now you can. Fragmentation has led to targeting that is much better than it used to be.”

The task advertisers now face isn’t one of overcoming fragmentation, but of using the data and tools they have at their disposal to make fragmentation work for them, in terms of better targeting and more efficient media spend.

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