At 4:30p.m. on March 2, the 2017 television upfront season officially commenced. This year’s trends indicate an evolving marketplace of buyers and sellers, one in which the role of audience-based strategies and the data that enables them is more prevalent than ever.

Example #1

On the sell side, we have major networks like NBC Universal increasing the amount of inventory they are willing to transact based on data beyond age/gender. This an indicator of the demand being created by agencies and advertisers for more precise targeting opportunities.

Example #2

We also saw Turner, Viacom, and Fox collectively launch OpenAP, “a web-based platform where advertisers can mix and match data sets to create ad targeting criteria that can be used for multiple TV buys.” Standardizing cross-publisher data for audience targeting is a staple of digital advertising and deploying this tactic in television is a welcome trend.

Example #3

On the buy side, big-hitting TV agencies like MEC, Cadreon, and others went deep on data at GABBCON’s Audience-Based Buying Summit. David Cohen, president, North America at Magna, kicked things off by declaring, “There’s no doubt that audience-based buying is the way the business is going.”

Although industry stakeholders agree on the future of TV and the central role data will play in that future, a mere 5% of total TV ad spend will qualify as programmatic or addressable in 2017. While TV marketers wait for the industry to invest in and adopt the necessary technology infrastructure to support said future, they still need innovative options for impacting the 95%, or $70 billion in the U.S., of ad spend they will place in 2017.

The most immediate and actionable opportunity for TV marketers is one that easily fits into their current practices, tools, and workflow. Advanced TV, a catch-all term for any linear TV placement that is planned/influenced/informed by data sets beyond standard age/gender, enables buyers to fine-tune their plans and enhance reach against a more specific target audience while still adhering to their primary buying demo.

How is this approach different than the traditional approach? Audience-based strategies are commonplace in digital, an ecosystem filled with granular data sets and targetable behavior. Data-driven audiences have been proven by digital marketers to drive more sales, leads, and ROI than standard demographic targeting. There’s more precision, less waste, and a general belief by marketers that audiences of a certain type or who exhibit a certain behavior are much more valuable than broadly targeting people of the same age and gender.

Check out our Advanced TV one-sheet for a summary of the opportunity and current state of the ecosystem.

For the first time, 4C is activating this opportunity for TV marketers with 4C TV Planner. Without disruption to current systems and processes, TV planners and buyers can use 4C TV Planner to be audience-driven in their upfront planning, linear schedule optimization, and scatter buying.

4C is helping TV marketers innovate and evolve, one step at a time, with a tool that allows guaranteed buys based on age/gender as normal, while also optimizing for the best networks, programs, and dayparts for specific target audiences—audiences not typically targetable in TV.

The fusion of historical TV airings, viewership, and social engagement for brands and their competitors in the 4C Insights Affinity Graph™ generates these atypical TV audiences. For example, consumers who haven’t seen your commercials, people who engage with certain TV programs, or those who’ve engaged with your competitors, but not your brand. 4C TV Audiences make it possible to target real people, not just broad demos on TV.

Do you know which TV programs your consumers engage with on social media? Get a free, custom report with the Top 100 TV shows for your brand using the 4C Insights Affinity Graph™. This report is one small slice of the data and insights available in 4C TV Planner but can give you a quick leg up in the upfronts.