Audience-Based Buying Is Taking Over: Here’s How Advertisers Can Successfully Adapt | Marketing Maestros | Blogs | ANA

Audience-Based Buying Is Taking Over: Here’s How Advertisers Can Successfully Adapt

July 27, 2021

By Marianne Vita


“The only thing that is constant is change.” That adage rang true in Ancient Greece, when it was originally stated by philosopher Heraclitus, and today it rings truer than ever for the TV advertising industry. According to a recent survey of over 200 marketers, 89 percent of marketers say they are expecting a “significant shift” away from traditional demographic-based TV buying to an audience-based buying (ABB) strategy over the next three years

So, if you’re an advertiser, how do you prepare for this future? The first step is to know what exactly audience-based buying is.


What Is Audience-Based Buying?

With advances in technology and measurement, marketers can target and buy multiscreen TV ad campaigns based on specific audiences such as lifestyle characteristics and purchase behavior. Using anonymized aggregated data to inform their decision-making, marketers can deliver relevant advertising directly to custom audience segments like “new parents” or “in-market car shoppers,” wherever and whenever they are watching.

The bottom-line impact: By thinking beyond traditional demos, and opening up buying to all audiences, marketers can better engage their most likely current — and future — customers and unlock access to consumers that spend nearly $4 trillion annually, or 41 percent of total U.S. spending, based on data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor’s 2019 Consumer Expenditure Survey.

Further, audience-based TV buying opportunities are growing, as marketers have a variety of platforms to choose from. Many major media companies have introduced their own solutions, such as NBCU’s NBCUniversal One Platform and Ampersand’s The AND Platform, while consortiums like Project OAR and OpenAP are collaborating with companies like AMC, FOX, ViacomCBS, Univision, FreeWheel and Vizio to overcome issues with standardization and overall simplify the buying process.

Amid this shifting TV advertising landscape, in which technology, measurement and opportunities are all evolving, there are tangible steps that advertisers can take to set themselves up for success for the rest of this year and beyond. Below is an outline of three of those steps.


Examine the Strength of Your Organization’s Training and Tools on Audience-Based Buying

While many marketers understand aspects of what audience-based buying is, only 33 percent of marketers recently surveyed identified the precise definition. Additionally, over half of all marketers (55 percent) said they have either been trained informally by peers or they have not received any training at all.

This indicates a real need for more education of planning and buying teams. To give your organization an advantage, consider if there is an opportunity to introduce new training practices, tools and resources to ensure teams are learning how to best implement change. For agencies, taking action like developing an in-house training program or building out a data management practice can be instrumental in educating internal terms and ultimately facilitating data-driven TV buying.


Prepare for the Future by Testing and Learning What Works for Your Brand and Build Upon Those Learnings in Future Campaigns

To a large degree, marketers are implementing some form of audience-based buying. Only 8 percent of marketers are not currently employing an audience-based approach. Further, 33 percent of advertisers say ABB is a key part of their buying strategies, and the rest say it’s a small part of their strategy or they are still in a testing phase. The fact that most marketers are employing ABB in some form means that they are proactively preparing themselves by investing in data and analytics capabilities, building out their targeting and measurement capabilities, as well as testing and learning.

Many advertisers recognize that now is the time to assess which platforms, targets and tactics work best to deliver business outcomes. This “test and learn” mindset will set your brand up for success in the future as the industry increasingly moves toward a total audience buying approach. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither does your ABB strategy have to be.


Employ an Audience-First Buying Strategy to Achieve a Variety Of Business KPIs

One of the benefits of an audience buy is the ability to precisely target and measure beyond traditional media metrics and look at business outcomes. Data shows that marketers very much believe in the ability of ABB to drive business outcomes. Notably, they believe those outcomes to be full-funnel. Looking to drive awareness and reach? Consider that 74 percent of marketers believe ABB can deliver incremental reach of key consumer groups. Looking to build brand love? Seventy-two percent of marketers believe it will add deeper engagement. Looking to grow sales? Sixty-two percent of marketers say audience-based buying can increase sales.

The TV advertising landscape is at an inflection point — as the practice of audience-based buying is bound to continue growing. Today, there are actionable steps that marketers can take to strengthen their ABB strategies, and those that take these steps will set themselves up for success for the years ahead.

Marianne Vita is Senior Vice President, Director of Integrated Strategy and Marketing at the Video Advertising Bureau (VAB).

The views and opinions expressed in Marketing Maestros are solely those of the contributor and do not necessarily reflect the official position of the ANA or imply endorsement from the ANA.

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