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Hand moving a switch up on soundboard: audience suppression

How Audience Suppression Dials Up Local TV Ad Efficiency

November 30th, 2017   ||    by John R. Osborn   ||    No Comments

Audience suppression is a strange concept in an advertising industry built around mass marketing. Why is it strange? Audience suppression means targeting specific people or homes to not receive specific ads.

It might happen after a purchase is made—in an online remarketing execution—and it’s a beneficial strategy for direct response (DR) digital advertising. The ability to turn ads on and turn off in anything close to real time is valuable. However, it requires advanced technology, careful planning, and strong analytical skills.

Local Suppression

With its broadcasting legacy, local TV has traditionally been bought and sold on broad and surrogate demographic viewership targets, such as W18-49 or A25-54. Media planners have tried to avoid overexposing ads to heavy viewers by analyzing frequency distributions and other modeling tools.

Of course, TV has been a powerful DR tool for marketers, who have historically tracked responses to ads based on the surrogate date, time, and geography for each ad as it ran. Campaigns have been increased, decreased, or canceled based on these analytics—since stations have been more flexible with unsold inventory used for DR.

But without the media-to-consumer distribution pipes or set-top-box (STB) ownership that tracks and reports delivery at a granular level—needed for audience suppression—how can local TV buyers and sellers compete with addressable and ad suppression in a digital world?

Over-The-Air (OTA) Broadcast Buys

With surrogate data aggregation, automated buying and selling technology platforms offer a starting point for more refined targeting, tracking, analyses, and tactical decision-making. In time, these technologies will expand targetability and audience suppression capabilities.

STB partnership-collected or purchased data can be integrated into new buying and selling platforms, which can then expand advertising offerings from broad Nielsen demographics to aggregate STB data within a geographic population.

It’s also worth working closely with modeling partners and data management platforms—such as Nielsen retail measurement, J. D. Power, or local multi-channel video programming distributors (MVPDs)—to gather the best possible data.

Local Cable Buys

When moving from aggregated to subscriber audience data, remember that local MVPDs own the local STBs and can target and track programs and ads on a home-by-home basis (within privacy guidelines).

Fortunately, retransmission agreements with local stations make cable buys a growing resource within local TV marketplaces. Local broadcast stations and in-market MVPDs should not consider themselves competitors: shared data for local program viewers can help both broadcast and MVPD TV providers.

For Over-The-Top (OTT) Channels

The stock price of Roku, which hosts a number of local-channel streaming services, doubled the week of November 13, 2017, after the release of their third-quarter 2017 shareholder report. The report noted: “Roku’s data science and targeting capabilities give us the confidence to provide audience guarantees (unique in OTT).”

OTT platforms are new carriers for local TV stations, and leveraging such partnerships through, for instance, Roku user data, will help targeting and audience suppression capabilities for local TV—even in aggregation. Other OTT services will only continue to proliferate.

Local TV buyers and sellers may not have a direct on/off switch for audience suppression. But by continuing to invest in technology, data partnerships, and first-hand knowledge of the marketplace, they’ll be well-positioned—given their scale—to both compete and cooperate for ad dollars with smaller, more addressable outlets.

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