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Data-Driven Linear TV Cutting Edge Data Powers Traditional Buying Tactics

By: Ed Kim, June 9, 2022

Maybe you’ve heard the term, Data-Driven Linear TV and you’re wondering what this means? Like many new industry terms when they first get coined, if you asked ten different people, you’d get ten different answers.

What is Linear TV?

First, we might clarify, what is ‘linear TV’?. In the not-so-distant past, TV meant watching a few broadcast channels in your living room. However, TV today has evolved to be more broadly available, across more devices (no longer tied to a single point on a wall in a single room), and via more platforms, to the point that “TV” can be considered any long-form video content available anywhere. This means that we can now define historical TV being watched contemporaneously in the order presented as linear TV.

The internet, as it’s radically changed everything, has of course disrupted TV. Now long-form video can be accessed in a myriad of ways across a multitude of platforms.

In that same not-so-distant past, TV advertising was purchased against specific programs, which were a rough proxy for basic demographic information such as age and gender.

The Evolution of Linear TV to be Data-Driven

Now, linear TV can be dis-aggregated from a single large buy through strategies such as Unwired TV, and extending campaigns across both traditional linear TV and CTV, OTT, and other available platforms.

This means that campaign targeting overall can be far more insightful and precise. By breaking the media buy into discrete elements and building it back up, it’s possible to see data in the audience that a traditional national TV buy might miss. There may be shows in some geographies that reach a particular audience that in another geography might actually be a near-miss. Adding CTV advertising to the mix enables reach to be extended with very little duplication and can provide analytical insights that can then be applied to your disaggregated Linear TV campaigns.

Who Can Benefit from Data-Driven Linear TV?

Examples of this type of strategy include retailers that have stores in certain geographic areas that haven’t reached a scale where a national Nielsen ratings guided campaign makes sense. Direct to Consumer products companies often are built first online and then extend to TV as they grow, meaning that they have rich first-party datasets they can use based on which consumers are most likely to buy. Various services businesses may benefit from using past purchase behavior to guide their propensity to need the services associated with those purchases.

Data-driven Linear TV also takes advantage of testing to gain more data. We might recommend that you run a test campaign and a control campaign and uncover in small geographic areas which campaign drove the desired purchase behavior. You might test one ad creative in your control group and a second in a look-alike audience to see which gives the best lift and then optimize the distribution of ad creative based upon these insights.

In addition to your own first-party test data and insights that FreeWheel has gained through these types of tests, available data for Data-driven Linear TV include things like MasterCard buying habits, Experian financial data, JD Powers vehicle purchase propensity data as well as patient-level data for pharma and healthcare marketing.

There are data aggregators such as LiveRamp and Neustar that bring a wide range of 3rd-party data to the table as well.

The upshot is that a well-crafted Data-Driven Linear TV campaign can help you to get more impressions, and more valuable impressions, for the same budget. This lets you increase brand awareness across more households and more people that are the most important to your business.

What Questions Should I Ask About Data-Driven Linear TV?

  • Are we driving more sales?
  • Are we missing opportunities to improve KPIs?
  • Can we increase incremental reach?
  • We can look at our linear TV buy and our CTV buy and say how much incremental reach we’ve added with CTV?
  • Can we ensure that we aren’t duplicating the audience with a multi-channel/multi-screen approach?

Harnessing Data-driven Linear TV is strategically important to brands that want to maximize growth for any given budget.