The TV Buyer’s Guide to 2020

"The breadth of capabilities and applications will only grow in the next 12 months, so we must educate advertisers now so that they can best use addressable solutions to meet their needs in 2020." -Brian Wallach

2019 was a game-changer for TV advertisers in the U.S. As consumer habits continued to shift in ways previously unimaginable, and technology continued to make great leaps into automation and digitization, we reached something of a tipping point.

In 2019, advanced TV advertising was used by a majority of advertisers, with 66% saying they bought over-the-top (OTT) ads, and 57% saying they bought addressable TV. (Source: Advertiser Perceptions, October 2019.) And there’s no expected slowdown in sight, as advertisers reorganize their teams, rethink strategies and take stock of what might be ahead.

As we embark on the new year, I expect four key themes to emerge:

The “Addressable Awakening”

Addressable has been an area of increasing interest to marketers since it was introduced and in 2019, 59% of advertisers said they bought addressable TV advertising. Addressable advertising can take many forms. There is the emerging platform of addressable linear that many associate with “addressable TV.” However, there are also the addressable capabilities of IP-based devices, such as connected TV. And, while addressability can certainly be used for more precise targeting, it also brings with it important abilities to more accurately measure results, and connect audiences across devices using diverse data sets. The breadth of capabilities and applications will only grow in the next 12 months, so we must educate advertisers now so that they can best use addressable solutions to meet their needs in 2020.

Expanding TV’s Place in the Marketing Funnel

Another byproduct of addressability that has emerged is the ability to expand linear TV itself beyond the top of the marketing funnel. Thanks to the growth of addressability, data can now be used to tie reach to results. This means more digital-first advertisers, including direct-to-consumer brands, can now use television to build brand awareness, while also achieving the measurement metrics needed to track brand engagement and sales. The bottom line: TV’s not just about awareness anymore, and marketers are moving quickly take advantage of the medium in new ways. I expect these efforts to multiply this year.

The Connected TV Connection

Today, Connected TV is mainstream for consumers, and the proliferation of content is exploding. So is interest in Connected TV: According to Advertiser Perceptions, advertisers showed the highest spending optimism for OTT in 2019 than any other form of television. Optimism equals projected percentage increase in spending minus percentage decrease.) As the plethora of new streaming services that entered the market this year continue to build viewers, the competition for viewers’ attention will be steep. This expansion will lead to even greater fragmentation, encouraging the industry to figure out how to create the right solutions by making the right connections. This means connecting the multiple players on both the buy side and the sell side, as well as making the connection between online and offline TV and video campaigns.

The Reimagining of Contextual Targeting

Contextual targeting remains relevant – though it has stepped out of the spotlight as more addressable options have led the road to innovation. But in 2020, the innovation pendulum may swing back. More advertisers are recognizing the importance of authenticity and the power of emotional messaging. Contextual targeting, especially paired with data, can yield outsized results – reasserting the value of connecting an ad to the content, and creating an emotional impact on the consumer. That’s what TV has always done best.

Here We Go…

2020 is here, and in terms of advanced TV solutions, our industry will be more automated and targeted than ever before. According to a recent survey, 62% of advertisers expect their OTT spending to increase in 2020, and 56% expect their addressable TV spending to increase.

In 2020, it’s our goal to simplify the new and emerging opportunities as much as possible so advertisers can dive in head first. It’s important that we avoid the temptation to overcomplicate, and rather focus on what TV has always done best: driving great results for advertisers. It’s a new world, but that doesn’t mean we all have to re-learn everything.

FreeWheel is the technology platform for the modern television ecosystem; its platform powers industry-leading advertising buyers and sellers globally — creating one of the world’s largest premium TV marketplaces.