Reaching The Unreachable Millennials On TV

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Jonathan Steuer and his research team at Omnicom Media Group recently published a series of briefs on what they call “the unreachables,” suggesting that digital-first millennials that binge on streaming series never sign up for cable TV and engage with each other in messaging apps like Snap.

In short, they are difficult to reach with traditional mediums like TV. Could we find this elusive cohort on TV? On OTT? Solely on digital?

While it is true there are more “unreachable” audiences in the millennial generation, they still watch TV, even ad-supported TV — even if its on the tune-in terms they demand. Like everything else at their fingertips, Millennials are opting for a digital-first approach to their TV viewing — watching what they want at times that work best for them.

Millennials are entering their peak years as consumers. They are building their careers, having families and making brand choices that resonate with a diet of limitless, always-available content and commerce.

This a challenge for brand advertisers that have historically built their awareness using broad reach vehicles like TV, then supplemented that with digital ads to more directly drive clicks and conversions.

There are two ways to keep TV dollars working.

One is to invest in OTT-delivered versions of the broadcast show. NBC released some stunning statistics in February, stating that 44% of revenue from “This Is Us” and 36% of revenue from “The Good Place” came from digital viewership and advertising.

That is a remarkable amount — one-third to nearly one-half of all revenue from two hit shows coming from non-linear delivery. Marketers breathed a second sigh of relief.

The second way to ensure quality results from TV dollars spent is to adjust your perception of ratings, based on the true attention to the shows. TV, and commercials in particular, have always had competition from other distractions — the phone, the refrigerator, the bathroom.

With more distractions in consumers’ hands, there are more opportunities for ads to be shown but also more ads served when no one is watching the screen. What ratings are able to measure is quantity of viewers, a core measure by which any media property can express its value to an advertiser.

But those ratings are blunt — they measure households and tune-in. The outcome of those quantity measures are the ability to set rates and show trends.

But for brands to get quality results, ratings need a quality modifier that determines the true viewership of the show or ad being displayed. When you overlay quality to the mix, things get interesting.

By applying an attention modifier to ratings, you can measure the audience that actually watched the show and the ads. This separates shows, genres and ads that might get used more as background music, from shows and ads that achieve viewer engagement.

Media planners and buyers can then base their budget allocations on data that shows when eyes are on the screen, which shows and ads they actually saw, and the related action the consumer took in terms of searches, likes, site traffic and eventual purchases.

Rather than making assumptions about audience value, marketers and networks need to use data to discern the quality of the viewing audience.

With better data and insight about what consumers are actually viewing, as we’ve done in digital, marketers can make more informed decisions about how to effectively reach the unreachables and drive better business results.

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