Buying television airtime used to be much simpler when there was no alternative to people congregating in the living room to watch scheduled programming. All a brand had to do to maximise its reach was have a media plan that included the big-hitting shows, such as Coronation Street or X-Factor, and it was considered “job done”.
This approach has changed with the fragmentation of the media landscape. The world of four or five terrestrial TV channels has steadily been replaced by one where many households have a choice of hundreds that can be watched live or on-demand, via services such as ITV Hub and All4. To further complicate the media mix, audiences now also gravitate towards online video sites, such as YouTube and Vevo, as well as OTT (Over The Top) streaming services, including Amazon Prime and Netflix. New entrants, such as FacebookWatch and Amazon’s IMDb TV, are also starting to join the fray.
Whether it is on a household’s main TV screen, a tablet, laptop or smartphone; traditional linear TV viewing is being supplemented by people streaming their favourite sources of entertainment on the devices of their choice, at the times of their choosing. Advertisers are normally faced with choosing between linear or streaming ad spots - but there is an increasingly compelling reason for combining the two.
Optimising reach cost-effectively, particularly to the growing audiences that are becoming harder to find on conventional television, increasingly requires both linear and streaming in order to deliver the desired reach and frequency.
Younger audiences becoming hard to find
The reality that TV advertisers have to face is that, while the nuclear family sitting around watching a linear show has not disappeared, it is definitely waning. Research from Thinkbox, the broadcast TV industry trade body, shows that linear TV still reaches 86.1% of individuals, but that drops to 72% for 16 to 34 year olds. The latter group watches traditional linear TV for just under an hour per day, of which 43 minutes is devoted to commercial television. This compares to nearly two hours per day of commercial-TV watching by the average adult.
Audiences, particularly those in the Gen Z and millennial age groups, are clearly migrating away from previous generations’ reliance on linear television. Viewing figures from TV measurement organisation BARB suggest a swing to video-on-demand and streaming services. Not only does BARB estimate around 60% of households have a subscription VOD service, it further points out that 25-to-34 year olds, the millennial generation, have the most “unidentified” TV viewing. By this, it means VOD, gaming and video sharing platforms.
What’s more, this “unidentified” viewing has leapt from just under 100 minutes per day to 150 during lockdown. The switch away from linear TV among Gen Z and millennial audiences is not only happening, it is gathering pace.
This trend away from solely watching linear TV faces advertisers with a quandary, says Finecast’s Managing Partner, Kristian Claxton. It is not just a matter of losing a proportion of all viewers across all demographics but rather losing a proportionately larger slice of younger viewers. GroupM estimates the decline in linear viewing among 16-to-24 year olds is down by 26% in just the last year alone.
This leaves advertisers with the dual problem of finding it difficult to scale campaigns to the reach required and, perhaps more concerning, finding certain audience groups are becoming increasingly hard to find on linear television.
“We have a fragmentation in viewing with people watching video on their digital devices, as well as a TV screen, all around the home, often at the same time. It might be on a catch-up service, such as All4 or ITV Hub, or streaming services, such as YouTube or Twitch. You also have new entrants, such as Amazon Prime streaming live sports supported by advertising, as well as Facebook Watch and Amazon’s IMDb TV investing in content.”
Reach and frequency control make TV effective
Until now, a brand wanting to broaden its reach to audiences across both linear TV and streamed entertainment would have to run separate campaigns across both which are analysed in isolation.
However, Finecast offers a product through which advertising on streaming and on-demand services can be integrated. In fact, the non-linear aspect of a campaign can be fine-tuned specifically to reach audiences that are hard to find on traditional TV. This is delivered through adding geographic and demographic layers to consumer behavioural data to target far more granularly than traditional broadcast.
“Combining non-linear with a linear campaign is all about delivering advertisers those incremental viewers through reaching audiences that are becoming increasingly difficult to find when running traditional ad spots,” Claxton says.
“Without combining streaming and on-demand, advertisers will find they keep on spending more and more on scheduled television advertising to reach the same people more frequently. But by combining streaming with linear television, they achieve both incremental reach with audiences they would otherwise not find. They also achieve a better control on frequency too, to ensure campaigns are as effective as possible.”
With the move to supplement linear TV watching gaining more momentum, particularly during lockdown periods, advertisers are increasingly finding they cannot rely on linear alone. But now, rather than having to decide between linear and non-linear, the tools exist to give them the best from both and to deliver the right reach and frequency to ensure their campaigns are effective, and not merely repeating their key messages to the same audience, over and over again.
For more information please visit Finecast.