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Big Data: A New Journey for TV Networks

One thing is for sure: the TV network industry has seen drastic changes over the past several years. Viewers now watch content on multiple devices and platforms, ranging from network programming on cable TV to on-demand streaming on a tablet. Yet with all these changes, one thing has still remained the same: the need for networks to drive viewership and increase revenue through advertising sales. Thanks to technology, marketers can now collect, analyze, and optimize multitudes of viewer data to boost tune-in rates. In other words, network marketers can now begin to think like performance marketers.

Lose The “Spray And Pray” Tactic

Rather than having direct relationships with viewers, TV networks traditionally relied on panels and third-party media researchers, such as Nielsen, to measure viewership and not a scientifically-measured approach we see with ecommerce campaigns. With a laser-focus on margins, yesterday’s “spray and pray” approach to driving tune-in rates are no longer acceptable.

Using technology to support performance marketing, TV networks are beginning to develop direct relationships with individual viewers to serve two purposes:
  1. Optimize tune-in campaigns. Set-top box data enables marketers to track tactics with individual households and discover how those activities impact tune-in behavior. This insight enables them to plan and optimize media as efficiently as ecommerce companies have been doing for years.
  2. In order to reach and scale their audiences more efficiently, advertisers can use their own data or third-party data in the network TV planning and buying processes.

The Role Of Big Data

In order to leverage the same measurement and optimization capabilities that have been successful in ecommerce, TV networks can combine common tune-in tactics, such as email, display, search, and house TV ads, at the household level. A conversion can then be defined as watching the marketed show or the tune-in rate. The same attribution approaches that are used in digital marketing can then be applied to tune-in campaigns as well as commonly used marketing optimization practices (A/B, multivariate testing, personalization, etc.).

Access to data, analytics, and technology will enable networks to answer fundamental marketing questions, such as how much house inventory should be used to drive tune-in vs. selling it, or if there is 5% opt-out rate per email drop, how many drops should be done to optimize tune-in while maintaining the integrity of the email list? However, implementing these capabilities will be difficult, but well worth the positive impact to the bottom line.

This blog post is an except from the author’s article, “To Boost Viewership, TV Networks Use Big Data to Think Like Performance Marketers,” as seen in AdExchanger on April 10, 2015.