Just Like Jon Snow, TV is Back from the Dead
23 May 2016 • tvsquared


The Bastard of Winterfell, the former 998th Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch, is alive! Game of Thrones ended months of agony, intense debate and late-night Reddit reading (only me?) among its fans by resurrecting Jon Snow. For the TV industry, I can’t help but compare linear TV to Jon Snow: back from the dead.

In reality, TV has never really been dead. Ad spend continues to increase and its sheer reach can’t be matched by any other platform. When I say “back from the dead,” I mean the perception of linear TV as an un-measurable, un-optimizable medium.

Just like Melisandre brought Jon Snow back, big data and analytics have brought TV “back” as the most powerful marketing channel for advertisers. (That sentence might be the geekiest thing I’ve ever written and that’s saying a lot.)

Going Full Circle

Fragmentation is rampant in today’s TV landscape, and viewers have scores of ways to access their favorite programming. The rise of digital channels and their subsequent ad spend has also skyrocketed. And why not? Digital provided advertisers with measurement, targeting and optimization opportunities that they traditionally never had with TV.

With all of these factors at play, it’s no wonder many considered linear TV dead. But, like my husband who said, “Meg, Jon Snow’s dead, deal with it,” they are so very wrong. Take a look at some of these stats:

  • It’s been estimated that the average person watches between 1,300 and 1,800 hours of TV a year.
  • Globally, advertisers spent close to $200B on TV ads last year and that’s expected to grow in 2016 due to events like the U.S. election, the summer Olympics and the Euros.
  • A recent study showed that advertisers who reduced TV spend experienced a combined loss of $94M in returns.

Linear TV remains the most effective form of advertising due to its sheer reach. And now that it’s measurable and optimizable, advertisers who went away have been coming back to TV in droves. In fact, this is one of the most prevalent observations coming out of this year’s Upfronts.

The Role of Data 

So what’s brought TV back from this perceived death? Our own version of The Red Woman: data (oh, I’m not done yet with GoT references!).

Traditionally, TV advertisers relied on audience/ratings data to gauge campaign performance. The issue here was that the data was received six+ weeks after a campaign aired. Advertisers had no timely way of knowing how spots performed or the opportunity to make “on-the-fly” changes to optimize on-air campaigns. It’s no surprise that some advertisers turned to other, more measurable outlets.

In recent years, analytical technologies have finally turned TV into an optimized marketing channel. Leveraging same-day spot and response data (phone, app, web, SMS, etc.) lets advertisers target, measure and optimize TV campaigns just like they do with digital. Combine TV’s massive reach with same-day insights on how campaigns impact ROI, and advertisers have a very powerful tool to work with.

Complementary Media Strategies

As advertisers come back to TV, i’?s important to note that I don’t mean they should abandon efforts in other marketing channels. It shouldn’t be an either/or strategy where you replace one for another. Rather, the most progressive advertisers are embracing a complementary media strategy – taking advantage of multiple channels and understanding how they interact with each other to impact desired outcomes. (TVSquared’s CTO, Kevin O’Reilly, wrote an excellent blog post on this topic.)

Think about it this way: a whopping 87 percent of consumers use second-screen devices while watching TV. When people are interested, they immediately engage with a brand. With stats like that, it’s easy to see how linear TV boosts other media outlets for advertisers.

Linear TV can be measured, it can be targeted, it can be optimized, it can work in conjunction with other marketing outlets – and it is far from dead. Plus, anyone who watches GoT knows what we say to death: “not today.”