The People-First Advertising Lessons of the Hollywood Strikes | Industry Insights | All MKC Content | ANA

The People-First Advertising Lessons of the Hollywood Strikes

By Kaitlin Dunn Troutman

The full impact of the ongoing Hollywood writers' and actors' strikes has yet to be felt within the TV programming ecosystem, but the continued lull in production of new long-form content is going to have reverberating effects on the media landscape as we head into 2024. Advertisers need to recognize and react to the real-world implications when it comes to TV inventory.

For some brands, part of that process might call for revisiting the way they target desired audiences. While the increasingly digital nature of all advertising has pushed our industry toward a people-first approach to targeting, the Hollywood strikes serve as a vivid reminder that this approach can and should apply across the full multi-channel spectrum — even those channels where contextual targeting has long been the name of the game.

Gauging the True Advertising Impact of Hollywood on Strike

The impact of the Hollywood strikes was evident immediately within the late-night talk show space, as striking writers meant real-time content of this type had to go on hiatus. As a result, greater advertiser attention turned to live sports, reality TV and gameshow programming that remained unaffected. However, as the writers' strike has worn on and actors joined them on the picket lines with a strike of their own, the larger impact on inventory will be felt as TV programming that was written and filmed before the strikes runs its course.

While categories like live sports, reality TV and gameshows will proceed unabated, brands and agencies that favor scripted TV programming will need to reevaluate their strategies to ensure their ads are going to land with the right audiences. This includes not just TV-heavy advertisers that reserve most of their budgets for branding and awareness efforts, but also multi-channel advertisers that rely on broadcast to drive consumers down the funnel to digital points of conversion. In both cases, pivots will be required to ensure campaigns can still achieve the scale and impact required to meet KPIs.

Putting Audiences at the Center of Multi-Channel Targeting Efforts

While networks adjust their content plans and consumers shift viewing habits, advertisers are acutely aware that the same shoppers they've always wanted to reach are still out there. They're just consuming different content in different places. To reengage them appropriately, advertisers need to double down on a true audience-based approach to targeting — one that goes deeper than the contextual alignment that heavily guides much of today's TV spending.

TV advertising isn't going away — no matter how long the strikes continue. Rather, ensuring brands stay connected with their desired audiences means the TV buying process needs to depend more heavily on audience data than it has in the past — data that encompasses transactional, behavioral, and other person-level attributes and ties this individual understanding to media consumption. Enhanced audience data of this nature can help advertisers follow audiences across their viewing habits — not only to find which programs they watch when others go on hiatus, but also to understand which screens they favor and what opportunities their viewing habits provide for multi-channel amplifications.

In this regard, the Hollywood strikes also serve as a strong reminder that TV advertising exists within the larger multi-channel landscape and should originate from and be guided by the same level of audience insights. Ever-evolving digital targeting capabilities within the TV space, including CTV and OTT platforms, continue to lean more deeply into audience-based targeting tactics. This, in turn, enables marketers to gain a more comprehensive view of how their various channel executions work together toward a brand's goals.

The Hollywood writers' and actors' strikes are all about driving needed change in how entertainment professionals are compensated in an evolving digital landscape, but the impact will not stop there. Now is the time for brands and agencies to ensure their means of targeting — no matter the channel — are putting people rather than programming at the center of their strategies.

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

Kaitlin Dunn Troutman is SVP of operations at Alliant.