How Independent Agencies Can Turn Connected TV to Their Advantage

The big television budgets have long been the domain of large agencies. But as connected TV disrupts the industry, independent agencies can also expect to play a significant role in the changing television marketplace.

Consider two data points. First, about 55 percent of the U.S. population has connected TV, according to eMarketer. Second, a recent ANA survey found that only 15 percent of advertisers regularly include addressable TV in their media plans.

Eventually, advertisers will catch up with consumers. But it’ll take longer for larger agencies to adapt because alignment isn’t just a matter of breaking down a silo, it’s often a question of coordinating multiple companies that all work on the same account. In contrast, independent agencies are nimble, and therefore well-positioned to gain early expertise at a critical moment.

For the Independent Agency, Connected TV Is Local TV 2.0

Independent agencies should think of connected TV as a way of building on what they've already been doing for clients who are buying local and regional television. After all, local and regional television is, by definition, already geo-targeted, albeit with more broadly defined territories than what’s possible in digital. From a macro-level, connected TV adds a rich layer of data and new targeting tools to better define a geographic area.

With additional digital targeting tools and a new layer of data, independent agencies can begin by enhancing geo-targeting capabilities for their clients. But those agencies should also think about leveraging their nimbleness to develop custom tools and metrics that help local and regional brands include television in their unified planning. In effect, by adding connected TV capabilities to their list of services, independent agencies can continue to push the envelope on multichannel within local and regional markets.

As TV Democratizes More Clients Will Want In

For larger brands that already advertise on television, connected TV is an effective way to reduce waste in the media spend. But for advertisers that have shied away from television because of cost concerns, connected TV makes it possible to reach television audiences at smaller investment levels. From the perspective of an independent agency, the democratization of television represents an opportunity to earn a piece of a growing pie.

Independent agencies can build a connected TV practice by focusing on two types of clients. Existing local and regional clients can either use connected TV to expand what they’re already doing on television or in many cases, take that first leap into TV at a cost that fits their budgets. At the same time, independent agencies should also focus on earning the business of DTC brands. Increasingly, DTC brands are turning to TV for growth. But because those brands were built on a foundation of performance marketing that didn’t include branding campaigns, their DNA is likely to align with independent agencies that have had success running campaigns with attributable business and sales goals.

Find the Missing Linear Audiences & Increase Frequency on Light Viewers

One of the current and systemic byproducts of the ongoing shift from linear to connected TV is that some viewers are linear-only, others are only reached via connected TV, and still, others move between linear and connected TV.

This last group, the so-called “light viewer,” is becoming increasingly challenging for advertisers to find on linear television. In fact, some advertisers have found that a third or more of their linear audience is watching only a couple of hours of linear TV per week—effectively disappearing into a digital cloud for the rest of the week. An advertiser’s likelihood of having an impact on these viewers is limited. What’s more, some audience segments have gone missing from their linear TV plans altogether.

By integrating linear and connected TV investments, advertisers can relocate “light viewers” and address their reach and frequency needs accordingly. Solving this challenge affects all television advertisers, but it’s a challenge that’s particularly well-suited for independent agencies because advertisers can’t afford to wait for a solution with one-third of their viewers missing. Put simply, the nimbler the agency, the more likely it is to integrate linear with connected TV right now.

But going beyond tackling the immediate challenge of the “light viewer,” independent agencies are in a position to brand themselves as holistic partners for the long term. The virtue of the independent agency is that it can move quickly and directly to seize the future.