MindFire Communications, Inc.
The evolution of digital broadcast in your neighborhood
September 21, 2020 | James Patrick Schmidt

Experts have proclaimed the digital transformation of advertising for years. And while we’ve seen our consumer habits change when it comes to social media and internet usage, the same transformation has sometimes been just out of reach for awareness campaigns with TV and radio, especially for small- to mid-sized advertisers due to high costs and even higher minimum spend requirements.

In the last year, digital channels have become more accessible, and there are some great new digital branding opportunities to reach more of your audience – especially those who have cut the cord. These platforms aren’t going to entirely replace your existing campaigns, but they are great extensions to give your campaign a boost – one for video and one for audio.

The landscape for buying ads is always changing, and these are just a couple new options for your brand to consider. But the best campaigns are always built strategically around three things: the target audience, the campaign objective and the budget.

As a media planner, my role at MindFire is looking at all the media options to understand which mix of mediums best reaches the intended audience to create the desired engagement. Building a successful campaign means looking at tactics that have been successful in the past and introducing new tactics that take advantage of how people are engaging with media in their world. Read on for details about these digital opportunities that can give your campaigns a boost.

Evolution of man with regards to watching tv - sitting at tv, standing looking at ipad, hunched over phone, sitting looking at phone while watching tv

Over-the-Top TV (OTT)

If you’re watching a TV show on a Smart TV, Roku, Xbox or even your phone, you’re watching OTT. Recent estimates show 50 percent of TV consumers in the U.S. are using at least one OTT service, and while it started as a phenomenon among Millennials, these services are widely used across all generations.

In the past, advertising on OTT had very high minimum spends and very little targeting ability. But this has changed drastically. Most TV partners and programmatic digital partners offer an OTT product, and they have enough people watching to provide targeting. Ads are shown during regular commercial breaks, which typically are 30 seconds to two minutes long – and the ads cannot be skipped. We routinely target specific age groups by county, which has been very successful.

In fact, there are almost too many OTT options to choose now. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, here are some key differentiators I review when selecting a partner:

  • Targeting: For me, the ability to target by geography and demographics is “table stakes.” Most platforms are able to target by ZIP code, or at least county level. Selecting by age, or sometimes certain behavioral targets like “researching automobiles” are options that every vendor should have.
  • Program quality: This is the most subjective criteria I use, but I think it’s critical to ensure campaigns are effective. Some OTT vendors like to “blend” their OTT with forms of pre-roll or short-form content. Avoid these. It brings the cost lower, but the impressions aren’t nearly as valuable as real OTT. When I want to buy pre-roll, or video ads that appear before short clips and articles on websites, I prefer to buy it standalone because it has a different value.
  • Cost-per-thousand (CPM): With so many options, budget is always a major consideration. Usually, I accept bids from all the vendors who meet my quality and targeting requirements and pick the best one.

Podcasts with local insertion

With this one, I’m getting a little ahead of myself, but we are starting to see targeted ads available in national podcasts.

If you aren’t familiar, podcasts are like audio shows that people download and stream to their phone or computer to listen to on their own time. Many radio programs are also released as podcasts, and podcast libraries provide hours of listening pleasure for every kind of news, hobby or obsession that you have. About 51 percent of the U.S. population have listened to a podcast at least once, and there is a default application on all mobile phones as well as availability on popular streaming services like Spotify or Sticher.

Not all podcasts are a great opportunity for advertisers (just like many websites are not), but there are a ton of high-quality, professionally produced podcasts that are worth a listen. And until the last year, they were the domain of huge national advertisers like GEICO, Progressive, SimpliSafe or MailChimp (or “Mail Kimp”, as Serial listeners know it).

Currently, the minimum spends are still very high and the targeting is only available for large cities or regions, but I expect that will continue to develop and be available for local campaigns soon. The best places to watch are local ad insertions offered through Spotify as well as HowStuffWorks, one of the largest podcast networks that is owned by iHeartMedia.

Evolving your advertising campaigns

It’s important to review your media plans routinely and consider the best tactics, but make sure you’re doing it strategically, not just jumping at the “new and shiny.” If you want help figuring that out, drop us a line at MindFire and we’re happy to put our minds to work for your next media campaign.

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