LiveRamp's Allison Metcalfe on How Millennials and Gen Z Are Shaping TV Advertising | Industry Insights | All MKC Content | ANA

How Millennials and Gen Z Are Shaping TV Advertising

Allison Metcalfe of LiveRamp on viewership habits and what advertisers can do to win in our cross-screen reality



Allison Metcalfe, courtesy of LiveRamp


The living room and water cooler were once physical destinations with significant meaning to the TV industry. Today, the "living room" is wherever a viewer happens to be when catching up on a favorite show. It could be on a plane, under a duvet, or yes, the actual living room. The "water cooler" still exists, too. Conversations that used to happen there have just multiplied exponentially and spread out over dozens of social channels.

All of this fragmentation — driven chiefly by the way millennials (those born between 1980 and 2000) and gen Z (those born later than 2000) communicate and consume content — generally keeps TV advertisers up at night.

But where some struggle, others find opportunity. Such is the case with LiveRamp's Allison Metcalfe, general manager of the identity resolution provider's TV division. Formerly the head of customer success, she took on a new role at LiveRamp when the company saw a way to extend its identity resolution technology to the TV realm, officially bringing TV into the omnichannel marketing fold. This represents a major shift in the way TV advertising can be bought, sold, and analyzed.

"TV is finally becoming measurable. This means that as advertisers gain a deeper understanding of TV and how it affects other channels, some of the bricks in the original walled garden are being removed," Metcalfe says. "We're evolving to a place where we can pinpoint TV as the beginning of many customer journeys."

This visibility is especially important in light of the new channels and platforms that crop up regularly, capturing younger consumers' attention and forcing companies to be all the more savvy and agile in how they reach people who are already resistant to marketing.

As part of the ANA Thought Leadership Program, of which LiveRamp is a partner, Metcalfe discusses millennial and gen Z TV viewing habits, how these and other trends have shaped TV advertising, and what advertisers can do to win in this new reality.


Q. How is television viewership today different than a generation ago?

Viewing patterns are changing as technology advances. Today, it's possible to consume content in ways that no one thought possible even 15 years ago. That said, TV is still fundamentally a mass reach vehicle for most of the population. But the same segments that were difficult to reach a generation ago are still hard to reach now.


Q. How has TV advertising been affected by the many ways in which people can watch TV today?

In many ways, answering this question depends on what side of the TV business you're on. For example, from a network or programmer's point of view, TV advertising is a stable business. However, each year the Nielsen C3 ratings show incremental declines, which makes the inventory that programmers sell more expensive, as TV is a purely supply and demand market. Fewer impressions plus audience scarcity plus consistent demand equals higher CPMs.

Changing viewership patterns and channel mixes have also caused advertisers to diversify their investments to include publishers like YouTube or Vice. Those properties allow them to reach a more elusive targeted audience in a controlled manner.

These media buys are very much additive to TV — some budget may have to shift from TV to digital for certain advertisers, but not significantly. You can't scale mass reach on digital channels. It's something layered on top of TV.


Q. To what extent are changes in TV advertising informed by the viewing habits of millennials or gen Zers, specifically?

The two things are deeply interconnected. As millennials, those in gen Z, and other target audiences alter their viewing behavior, advertisers must be able to reach them in new advertising environments. Right now, TV is playing catch-up — viewers have already migrated to other devices, but our ability to accurately track those audience impressions at scale is not in line with our cross-screen reality.

In order for TV to catch up, it needs to be more and more measurable. If we can't measure granular campaign results and marketing outcomes using TV, the entire ecosystem will be held back.

One workable solution available now is adopting a common ID for TV that all marketing touchpoints can be tied to. The key word there is common — if all players in the ecosystem can agree to use it, we'll have the consensus we need to measure TV's value.

Some of the TV-first platforms we're working with now are all about delivering measurement and attribution that show the true value of TV in the marketing chain. These companies are starting to prove just how significantly undervalued TV is.


Q. Millennials and gen Zers are accustomed to the two-way dialogue they have with brands, having grown up with devices and social media. How is advertising on TV, traditionally a one-way conversation, evolving to adapt to this expectation?

TV is the original social network. Pop culture has always been fueled by TV, and major news and entertainment events are still broadcast on TV. That said, as advertisers find more ways to connect with consumers, there are many ways to enhance these conversations — whether it's with customized creative that is delivered via sophisticated ad decisioning technology, or targeted via any number of digital ad executions.

The ability to listen in on all the chatter happening in the digital world is a boon to advertisers who plant the seeds of conversation on TV.


Q. Obviously today's ad ecosystem is very different from the dawn of television and even just 15 years ago, when digital was in its infancy. How are modern advertisers adapting to suit this new reality?

Modern advertisers understand that they need a holistic view of their consumers in order to fully understand and meet their needs. The use of curated first-person data, along with additional data sets and behavioral models, can help advertisers adapt to a world in which the consumer is often the one controlling the conversation.


Q. In our omnichannel world, where increasingly every marketing dollar can be measured, what's going to separate the winners from the losers?

Access to data and understanding how to use it for TV advertising will separate the winners from the losers. The winners will be the advertisers and agencies that understand how to use data and incrementally enable better ad delivery across channels.

Over time, the ability to deliver measurable, granular customer insights, coupled with greater media spend efficiencies due to these advances, will enable the advertising ecosystem, and specifically the TV ecosystem, to actually grow — not just maintain existing market shares. When this happens, those who already have a test-and-learn process in place will be able to maximize their advantage.

This is important for advertisers because being able to use this data to track the full customer journey will help prove the value of the dollars invested across the media landscape — particularly in TV, where there is currently a big problem with lack of standardized, consistent, granular measurement. Digital has helped the marketing world move toward this goal. Now it's time for TV to become as provable as digital.


Jessica Hindlian is the head of advanced TV/video at LiveRamp. You can email her at