A Primer on Spot TV

I’ve recently begun a quest to learn more about marketing and the way marketing is currently changing due to technological advancement. Part of this is out of interest and love of learning, but it also comes from the hope that I can learn enough about a certain niche within the marketing industry so as to capitalize on the opportunities available.

In the past few weeks, my attention has become focused on spot TV and programmatic advertising.

In case you haven’t heard the term, spot television is specially targeted advertising “spots” on television. In essence, if you have a general idea of who is watching, you can sell a spot to the businesses that would most benefit from reaching that viewership.

The key is just as much in who you don’t reach as who you do reach. Say you were selling female hygiene products, or intense mass-gaining products — you already know what demographics are extremely unlikely to buy your product, so you don’t want to use your advertising budget reaching them. You want to target the viewership that your product was built for. In short, with spot TV it is more important to think about who you’re reaching than what you’re saying.

Shows that had been trapped in late night slots or on smaller channels are starting to have their heyday. In the past, viewership may have came mostly from people flipping through channels and perhaps even watching the ads by accident. That makes it hard to trust specific demographics and meant none of the math could be trusted.

In the last few years innovations in broadcast technology have made it more feasible to reach the audience you would most benefit from.

During the advent of the Internet, one of the biggest opportunities for businesses was the ability to focus on certain demographics. Before then, the only real option was to take a television, radio or newspaper ad, and hope that it reached the right people.

The concept of targeting was out there, but it wasn’t possible to properly do on your own until the companies like Google built a platform with the ability to segment the market and address the target demographics.

This Renaissance of advertising that disrupted almost every industry is finally hitting cable television. For a while it seemed as cable TV ads might just disappear since the innovation hadn’t occurred that would make it possible to go after the right demographics. With DVR’s, online streaming and piracy, the television advertising industry was being threatened with extinction.

This has now changed. Spot TV and programmatic advertising are making it possible to segment out audiences and provide an effective marketing solution once again.

The biggest reason why this is a potential money-maker is that it is underpriced, and drastically so.

Nobody — including you or I — would ever think of going that route, because we would only see it as cheap but garbage TV spots, or extremely expensive mainstream spots. There is a middle-ground, and that’s where the opportunity is. Comcast Spotlight, which is the advertising sales group at Comcast Cable, is making significant moves in the space and taking advantage of the opportunity at hand.

Now that I’ve explained the basics of the industry, I will next go through the major players, advantages and business models.

A Primer on Spot TV was originally published in Multimedia Marketing.

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