Mainstream TV Advertisers are Owning Activation

"This trust deficit explains some of the ways marketers are changing the way they approach TV activation today. Smart marketers recognize the need to add a layer of control or personal oversight to the activation process." -Marc Goldstein, Simulmedia

Streaming, over-the-top (OTT), connected TV (CTV), internet-connected devices. The list of buzzworthy terms influencing linear TV viewing is growing fast, yet TV’s evolution remains a remarkably slow one. As such, the majority of viewing today is still linear and live, and the largest investments in the $72 billion U.S. television market are still being made in network television (Nielsen TAR). 

Brian Wieser, GroupM’s global president, business intelligence, states it best in the September issue of Admap: “ other medium has been as useful for advertisers who look to borrow the brand equity of content, use sight, sound and motion in support of the awareness of brand attributes and, ultimately, build or reinforce their brands at a massive scale.” Despite this slow pace of change, marketers are evolving in their relationship to TV advertising in healthy ways. With renewed focus on transparency and accountability, more and more they are participating actively in the decisions their agencies are making to ensure their investments in TV activation reflect ones they would make personally.

That’s good news. After all, most advertisers still negotiate TV investment via the historical practice known as the Upfront. This process, often chaotic and crammed into a 6-8 week period, forces mainstream brand managers to relinquish activation control to their Agency, allowing others to make “hundred-million-dollar-decisions” on their behalf.  

While marketers give agency buying teams a lot of leeway with activation, a recent report in Digiday indicated that only 44% of marketers believe their agencies’ business interests align with their company’s business interests, and 40% said their interests were not aligned with their agencies at all. 

This trust deficit explains some of the ways marketers are changing the way they approach TV activation today. Smart marketers recognize the need to add a layer of control or personal oversight to the activation process. Marketers at blue-chip companies that include PepsiCo, Bayer and Pfizer have assembled dedicated internal media teams consisting of subject matter experts who keep their media buying agency group in lockstep with their marketing expectations.  

Other marketers are leaning into this approach as well. Results from a recent ID Comms 2019 Media Training Survey showed that 99% of those polled agreed that brands can gain a competitive marketing advantage by investing in training that raises their own internal media capabilities.   

Today, we’re seeing marketers pay more attention to the details of their TV activation. This goes beyond just taking control of costs and fees through reliance on procurement teams and media audits. Those controls, while capable of summarizing expenditures, fail to incorporate the subjective value of a media buy versus its objective cost. As a result, marketers are starting to challenge their agencies more directly, asking to understand the details of what they are paying for.  

Most importantly, mainstream marketers are embracing new technology by taking a digital approach to TV, like their up-and-coming, direct-to-consumer (DTC) challengers. They are taking charge of buying decisions by using integrated platforms that are becoming widely accepted national TV activation tools. Most of all, they recognize that legacy thinking is threatening the path to future growth.  

There is an increased use of client dashboards that provide insights into reach, impressions, and GRPs amassed throughout a campaign. Marketers are also utilizing tools to report on specific business outcomes, and investing in performance analytics teams who will take a deeper dive into campaign KPIs. This provides greater visibility into results for things like return on ad spend, conversion lift, and unduplicated reach. 

TV remains the most powerful medium to move markets and drive results. With new technology, and complete solution tools, mainstream marketers are empowered to participate in how media decisions are being made. They are taking back control and owning the activation. If it was your brand, and your money, wouldn't you want to own it, too? 

Simulmedia is a New York-based TV ad platform that enables predictable, scalable customer creation.