NewFront Week: Online Ad Dollars Versus TV? Not For Collective

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April 25, 2012 – 4:06 pm

The point of this week’s "NewFront" events from AOL, Microsoft Yahoo, Digitas and others is to make sure that when brand advertisers open their budgets wide for the traditional TV upfront season, they consider taking a portion of that spending and devote it to online ads.

Not Collective. While the company has been in talks with Digitas about partnering on some NewFront activity, the ad tech firm is taking the opportunity to suggest that brand marketers tie their TV spending and online advertising closer together, rather than calling for a direct share from one to the other.

Collective has been making the pitch that online should be used as a complement to TV ad spending since last fall, when it unveiled its TV Accelerator product. In September, Collective struck a deal with set-top box audience data aggregator Rentrak to expand its digital video business to include TV advertising.

The idea is to build on Collective’s promise to brand advertisers to buy particular audiences by offering the same arrangement to TV buyers.

“There’s a realization that most advertisers today are no longer planning online video as part of their digital budgets, they’re planning video holistically across broadcast, cable and internet and ultimately, any video-enabled device,” said  Collective CEO Joe Apprendi, in an interview with TVExchanger. “The point is, with TV Accelerator, the goal is to help maximize marketers’ biggest investment, which is TV advertising. After all, we’re focused on attracting brands, and brands spend most of their money on TV. It’s about $80 billion a year in the U.S. on TV, versus about $15 billion on display. Why fight that tide?”

Over the past few months, Collective has run 25 cross-platform campaigns through TV Accelerator. Given advertisers’ skittishness about revealing their strategy, Collective wouldn’t identify specific marketers or networks. Justin Evans, Collective’s SVP for emerging media, discussed some general findings that looked at an “old primetime broadcast program” aimed at women and a similar show that had premiered in the fall.

One assignment Collective had the past few months for the TV Accelerator was to try to get viewers of a nearly decade-old show that heavily reaches women 18-49 to check out a new show with the same general themes of a night-time drama.

Collective used TV Accelerator to compose a panel of 4,050 cross-media panelists who watched the “old show.” It then assembled a separate panel from comScore to determine if the network had targeted an audience demographically—even with perfect precision—how well would they have reached the watchers of the older show that they were trying to get to view the new program? The answer, surprisingly, was that the network would have reached the same penetration of old show watchers that they would have targeting a general audience, Evans said.

“The point is that we can identify the people who are least likely to see your TV ads – there are studies that suggest that 25 percent of the viewing population is unlikely to see a particular ad within a given campaign -- and make sure that they see it online,” Evans said. “We can use targeting data to find that 25 percent that escapes the TV ad – in this case, a promo for a new show."

TV Accelerator is also intended to show Collective’s ability to target specific audiences.

“The trick in the world of targeting is to show not only how accurate you are in the abstract, but how accurate you are by showing the client’s alternative,” Evans said. “The broadcast category is a perfect place for us to prove out this point. And that’s why we’re not interested in looking to ‘compete’ against TV – we see ourselves are providing the perfect extension of online targeting to broadcast buys.”

By David Kaplan

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April 25, 2012 – 4:06 pm

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