With greater reach in mind, ad buyers are deploying more multicultural ad strategies

It has been an unusual year for the upfronts, with viewership on the rise but anticipated spend delayed as networks allow advertisers to watch how seasons play out before going to contract. 

As industry analysts have recently suggested, the volume of this year’s advertising business is likely to decline. That being said, all those viewers in this season of stay-home-and-watch have opened a new front for revenue and engagement. With that in mind, advertisers are turning to a number of strategies this year, and the following ten approaches are driving marketing results.

1. It’s all about finding Reach. Reach carries a disproportionate amount of value relative to every other fundamental measure in media. A broader focus creates more longer term customers and more developed brand equity. Look to extend Reach through complementary opportunities in high quality content and contexts, and through audience-based buying from platforms that are able to provide transparency, safety and validation. 

2. Have a robust multicultural strategy. More than 40 percent of the population identify as multicultural. A differentiated strategy that touches Hispanic-American, African-American, Asian-American, or LGBTQIA audiences (for example) in more culturally relevant contexts extends Reach, focuses messaging and connects with consumers whose tastes deviate from the sociodemographic averages that they are part of. Harnessing nuanced music content and cultural affinities can yield profound effects and supplemental impact to any media plan.

3. Think nationally, act locally. With 30 percent of the U.S. population consolidated in the top 10 markets and half in the top 25, localized advertising extends audience Reach when a national plan may be under-delivering where consumption volume is highest. Advertisers can copy-split their creative, and even take advantage of granular digital geotargeting. Political elections this year will drive demand and ad supply will be limited in many local markets even during the current health crisis, as different regions relight their economies at different times. 

4. Invest in well-distributed content. With great consumer choice comes great consumer fragmentation, so even the largest singular owned-and-operated audience platforms have limited upside. By looking for content that is broadly distributed across a multitude of platforms, advertisers will benefit from a waterfall effect, capturing audience breadth on every downstream platform. As different types of consumers use different platforms for different reasons, investing in broadly-distributed content will also help advertisers quantify differentiation between platform audiences, illustrating complementary delivery. 

5. Ask for Reach guarantees. Currencies like Nielsen Digital Ad Ratings are extremely valuable as they report delivery against demographics with more dimension than gross impressions alone. Advertisers can learn what level of scale is possible based on which sellers would even accept or refute a Reach guarantee based on such reporting. Though measurement gaps exist, advertisers can now access an unprecedented breadth of data to inform Reach goals, managing frequency on a weekly or even daily basis. Measuring or even buying a rating places the onus on the seller to deliver audience goals as efficiently as possible.

6. Stress-test media choices. It’s far more valuable to find Reach thresholds across a broad range of avenues than to obsess over duplication and leave Reach potential on the table. Advertisers should assess how five different target rating points (TRPs) or even five Reach points deliver across a range of different media outlets. Look at the proportion of Reach to frequency within your impression volume. The proportions should be telling: Where the data do not tilt towards Reach, advertisers may be overinvested. And where frequency is modest, advertisers may have room to grow. Once deliveries are maxed within your budget or time constraints, pick apart the duplication from the measured campaign and reallocate to the next flight.

7. Look for reasonable ad loads. Advertising-based video on-demand and its subscription counterparts (AVOD and SVOD) have taught us that audiences overwhelmingly gravitate toward ad-light experiences. A linear TV-style ad load drastically diminishes the effects and subsequent resonance of a marketing message. There are a limited number of ads any consumer might absorb cognitively; ad clutter leads to softer impact. Sparser ad experiences have set high expectations for consumers. 

8. Leverage shorter ads. Decades of TV research has taught us as an industry that the most valuable part of the thirty-second ad is the first five seconds. It’s remarkable that most major advertisers still heavily rely on 30-second ads. Vevo’s own research has shown that the six-second ad is one of the most valuable non-skip formats today, retaining about two-thirds of the value of a thirty-second spot at a fraction of the cost. Seventeen percent of streamed ads are now under 10 seconds, according to Innovid. That’s a good start.

9. Look for co-viewed and family-viewed experiences. Not only do co-viewed environments drive audience Reach more quickly, but research shows that people watching content together are generally more open to ads. This is a strong reason to build campaigns for delivery through all those living-room devices that create co-viewing experiences for these receptive groups.

10. Measure if viewers are even in the room. Technology now enables advertisers to measure whether viewers are in the room when their content is on the screen. So far, we’ve found that Vevo content on CTV is 11 percent more likely to have viewers in the room than the 133-network average that measurement-provider TVision maintains, and more likely to have viewers in the room than any individual broadcast network. Visual inattention has been a major challenge throughout the history of TV advertising, and adding frequency has often been the solution by many marketers. By taking additional steps to put living room experiences into context, advertisers can start to change this, scaling back frequency for more impactful ad exposures.

Again the single-most important concept to keep central in all these strategies is that of reach, squarely the focus of media metrics and a conduit through which all insights travel and emerge.

For more details and approaches to the upfronts in 2020, Vevo has also published a Homecoming announcement and the first of its Digiday articles in this series.

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