Addressable ads on TV: The evolution of a new approach

  • 4 minutes read
  • United Kingdom
  • 22/06/2020
Black family watching TV on a sofa in living room

Kristian Claxton, Head of Engagement, Finecast

With the evolution of technology and user behaviour paving the way for ensuring relevant advertising is surfaced to increasingly specific audiences becoming more widespread, new opportunities are emerging for brands to reach viewers in the uniquely powerful environment of television.

What makes it so powerful? We have combined online surveys, ethnographic sessions and qualitative research workshops in major UK cities to find out. Our recent study with DRG found that from a viewer perspective, TV is a place to relax and engage with a huge wealth of never-ending content and the nostalgic place it holds in the minds of viewers contributes to a feeling of trust. At 37%, trust in television advertising is significantly high when compared to other forms including radio (19%), cinema (17%), press (16%), out of home (15%) and online (10%) and 16% of respondents openly said that they actually enjoy watching TV ads.

We heard that a key differentiator for TV ads is their storytelling ability, with some people going so far as to describe them as iconic and entertaining. Among people who are open to seeing ads on TV, a few key qualities contribute to making a great one: humour (73%), creativity (57%), uniqueness (43%), inspirational (34%) and emotive (25%). For younger Gen-Z viewers, social relevance emerges as an important factor at 48%, versus 28% for the average population.

Viewers say that they expect TV advertising to feature universal concepts and established, well-known brands, from supermarkets and cars to perfume and holidays. They think of TV as a place for “generalised” ads that “go out to everybody” and are intended “for the masses”.

So what does this mean for addressable ads in the TV environment? Relevance and personalisation are expectations, with one in three viewers indicating that they’d feel more inclined to watch TV ads if they were relevant to them which highlights the importance of creative for effective engagement. And opinion strengthens among younger viewers, with over a third of those aged 16 to 34 saying that they find the idea of TV ads tailored to their lifestyle and interests appealing.

However, overtly personalised advertising is something of a double-edged sword, with trust – arguably TV advertising’s strongest suits – a key concern for viewers. Over half (52%) described personalised advertising as intrusive, many point to online and social media ads as examples that have engendered feelings of mistrust, annoyance and a sense of “big brother watching them”. Trust in TV advertising was higher amongst those under 35 and a third of those aged 16-34 in our survey told us they find that idea of lifestyle specific TV ads appealing.

In short, our findings tell us that viewers see a place for TV advertising but they want it done right, the importance of creating something that they enjoy watching places added emphasis on the creative treatment. It seems that subtlety is crucial here: we’ve got to understand and respect the fine line in the minds of viewers between an ad that’s helpful and relevant and an ad that’s creepy and off-putting.

The way that viewers interact with TV is unique among other environments, so it’s important to approach advertising via this medium differently in order to capture the attention of audiences and engage with them effectively. With innovation in the space advancing at pace and making it easier for brands to better segment and reach viewers through addressable TV advertising, we are seeing that more relevant ads are also more effective ads with long-term brand building benefits. All of this results in a better experience for viewers and advertisers alike.

As new possibilities emerge, planning and buying TV will require a degree of finesse to work out how to address relevant viewers in a way that maximises mutual value for both viewers and brands.

To further understand how businesses can explore this, our second phase of research with DRG digs deeper into these themes. Watch this space for further insights.

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