Smart TVs: making offline as measurable as online?

Online advertising, and paid search advertising in particular, has been held up as the ideal for marketing because of its measurability and the level of tracking it offers. Conversely, offline advertising is inherently difficult to track.

TV advertising offers a fantastic medium for brands to reach a mass audience and raise awareness of the brand and its product range. However, until now it has not been able to provide the same level of measurability as online. The arrival of smart TVs is set to change that.

The launch of Google TV in the UK, expected over the next six months, along with Apple’s rumoured move to launch its own internet-enabled TVs, mark a pivotal moment for brands looking to recreate the level of measurement associated with online, in a world that was typically known as offline.

Enabling consumers to watch terrestrial TV, surf the web and interact with Apps for TV simultaneously, smart TVs will offer brands with new advertising forms that are more measurable than traditional TV advertising.

Tracking interactions not just awareness
The first additional metric smart TVs will be able to offer brands is the ability to track when a consumer actually interacts with their advert rather than just registering it. At launch, the two biggest opportunities to create and measure interactions are:

1.   In-TV app advertising – like the adverts you can see within apps on mobile, such as those from Admob, when TV apps launch, brands will be able to place adverts within the apps consumers interact with on their TVs
2.   Targeting on-demand content

Considering how many apps consumers already interact with on their mobiles, including apps for banking, socializing and accessing media, in-TV app advertising could be a huge opportunity for brands. Indeed, it is likely that TV apps will quickly become as integral to consumers’ daily lives as mobile apps are now.

Once TV apps have become part of the daily routine more consumers are likely to remain logged into the apps. This will enable brands to target consumers according to their psychographics as well as tracking the adverts that result in a click-through.

On-demand content offers a similar opportunity to enhance targeting based on consumer demographics as well as the type of content they are viewing. And, with twice as many people watching some programmes on catch-up as they do live (source: Virgin Media), on-demand content is already popular. The introduction of smart TVs, which will make access to on-demand content even easier, will only increase the consumption rate here.

For those brands looking for further proof here, you only need to look at the success brands have already seen on YouTube, which is likely to be a central element of Google TV’s strategy.  Indeed, in the work we did for The Perfume Shop that used YouTube’s targeting tool, YouTube advertising significantly outperformed traditional search.

Integrating smart TV advertising data into other channels

The second key opportunity smart TVs present brands with is the ability to transform the effectiveness of their multi-channel campaigns.

In the US, the Google TV platform enables brands to pass the data from Google TV through to Google Analytics. This allows them to draw conclusions as to the impact each advert had on other marketing channels, including paid search marketing and display advertising.

Whilst this is unlikely to reach the UK for a while after launch yet, it illustrates the potential to demonstrate the impact of TV more measurably. For example, brands will be able to see the impact of TV on other marketing channels in specific locations at particular times. At a time when budgets are coming under increasing pressure and marketers are being challenged to prove their worth to the Board, this can only be beneficial.

No-one knows yet what the rate of uptake will be for smart TVs. However, we do know that data remains key to transforming any brand’s marketing strategy. Smart TVs offer access to a unique data set that could have a dramatic impact on campaigns run across all channels. For those brands looking to harness this potential from day one, now is the time to invest in understanding what data can be accessed and how to use that data to make offline as measurable as online.

Sri Sharma, managing director, Net Media Planet