Knowing What to Buy: Advice for TV Programming Genres
26 June 2019 • tvsquared
Marlessa Stivala,
Content Marketing Manager

As described in our recent direct-to-consumer (DTC) eBook—which analyzed several U.S.-based DTC brands in aggregate as well as by the specific retail, food delivery, subscription service and high-end travel verticals—modern TV has become a virtual buffet of entertainment options, spanning multiple platforms and numerous programming genres.

Understanding these genres, particularly which ones best engage with specific viewers, is important for advertisers looking to connect with current and potential customers in a meaningful way. This is why, while experimentation should always be a part of the TV ad buying process, it is a key aspect of identifying the programming that is the best fit for a brand.

Here is some advice on how to make sure you’re really getting the most out of TV programming genres:

  1. Ratings and Popularity Don’t Equal Performance

We’ve discussed at length why traditional TV ratings should not be what advertisers use to determine how they spend their TV ad budgets, and it remains as true as ever. A highly rated show is not the same as a show that is going to deliver high response rates for a spot; ratings simply don’t equal performance.

This is where experimentation and continuous measurement become so crucial to achieving results. After all, would you rather have 20 people see a spot with no response or 10 people who do respond and visit your site or download your app?

Along these same lines, remember a series or genre’s popularity is not always a guarantee that it’s a good fit for your specific brand. If Historical Documentaries typically don’t do well for your campaigns, airing during the new, popular (and, perhaps, highly rated) program in this genre is risky. Airing during the hottest program of the moment can be appealing, but make sure the data justifies your investment.

  1. Embrace Niche Genres

In our DTC eBook, we found that, in aggregate, Movies, Sports and Historical Documentaries were the lowest performing programming genres. But this doesn’t necessarily mean that all DTC brands should completely ignore everything that falls within these genres. Poor results from a broad, more generic genre can turn into solid results with a more niche genre that may better complement your brand. For instance, you may discover Sports overall don’t do well, but Tennis games perform excellently.

  1. Understanding the Changing Landscape 

Once you identify which genres do deliver the best performance for your brand, make sure you know exactly where to find this type of programming. Don’t forget that the TV industry is evolving now more than ever, and a network that was a great fit just a year or two ago may have completely rebranded and thus may no longer even air the type of programming you want for your spots.

Even if the network has not rebranded and airs the same type of programming it has for years, it still may no longer be the best fit. Remember that there are now several channels, across multiple platforms, that specifically specialize in Lifestyle, Spanish Language and more key programming genres—once you’ve established what you want to buy, make sure where you’re buying it is also delivering the highest level of response possible.

Download our eBook, Direct-to-Consumer Brands: TV Performance Benchmarks, for a full look at the TV buy elements that perform the best and worst for the DTC industry.