TV Targeting: Archaic or Enduring?

Television. The once goddess of the ad world. We don’t talk too much about progression in advertising when it comes to the tube. Maybe it’s because TV targeting seems to be working just fine. Or maybe it’s because TV is getting a dosage of oldest child syndrome: bypassed/neglected/ignored for the newborn (social media).

So when I began reading this article from Ad Age, I was inspired to comment on the state of TV. To preface, article writer Matthew Creamer states…

TV as a medium remains startlingly mass and, as a business, no less successful for its reluctance to dive into narrowcasting…. TV is the last bastion of cheap, broad reach in an age of media fragmentation and audience splintering. Most attempts to modernize that appeal have failed or been severely delayed. Addressable advertising that allows targeting based on customer segments or purchasing history is still at beta level.

In other words, TV is still a megaphone. Sure, we can target by location and make assumptions about who people are based on what they are watching, but specific lifestyle / household targeting is something else entirely. It seems like an obvious and much needed change, but no one wants to go there. Any growth has been slow and painful, much unlike the explosion that social media has seen. The article suggests that there is hesitation based solely off of the challenges it might present (“How do I write that campaign?” or “How can I measure the success of that” or even “How will you charge me”). And then there is always the question of “if it ain’t broke, why fix it?”

While drastic changes in TV targeting affect more than just the agency world, ad entities must have buy in. Should we be striving for change or just happy with how things are? Both personally and professionally, I think it’s ridiculous that we are hesitating and fighting new opportunities just because of the challenges we will face. But if I’m being truly honest, I also have to admit that we can be part of the problem. Agencies, companies and brands continue to pour millions of dollars into a medium that isn’t nearly as targeted as it could be. Aye, there’s the rub. Companies don’t want to change their targeting options because agencies, brands, etc., keep pouring money into what is already available. What a Catch 22.

I’m all for change. It’s my belief that we all do our best work when we are pushed way outside our comfort zone, when there aren’t any answers, and when no formulas have yet been molded. It’s the risk that is the reward. I know I’m in, so who is going to step up and ignite change?

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