What’s Happening?

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For the first time, digital as a whole has passed TV in ad spend. TV captured roughly $71.3 billion in domestic revenues in 2016 according to eMarketer, just under digital advertising's $72.5 billion per the Interactive Advertising Bureau’s (IAB) digital ad revenue report. This is seen as big news within the ad community, but it is less a sudden seismic shift than an inevitable outcome of the proliferation of screens and the adoption of mobile devices.

There’s no question the migration of ad dollars from TV to digital will continue. But the IAB cautions that the real story lies within the 2016 Q4 numbers: while the top 10 digital companies were the source of 73% of revenues in Q4, they only contributed 69% of the growth. 31% of the growth came from companies outside the top 10. We are experiencing a second wave of early adopters and from here on out, eMarketer predicts the speed of the shift will only increase.

What does it mean?

The fact that today’s video consumption is happening on a variety of devices, platforms, and schedules doesn’t mean the eyeballs aren’t still there to be captured. Advertisers just need to cast the net wider, and do so via the ‘net. Adding digital to TV offers significant benefits to advertisers, like increased control, better spend transparency, and a more granular understanding of the audience to aid in targeting ad buys. That way, wherever and however your audience is consuming video, they are within your reach. 

How To capitalize on it

Here are three strategies on how to use video to capture TV audiences moving to digital:

1. Combine linear TV with programmatic targeting

Networks like NBCU, which initially offered only their digital video and display inventory programmatically, now allow programmatic buys on its linear networks as well. This marries the data-powered automation of programmatic with the nationwide reach of linear TV. As John Peragine, senior VP, global head of video at Rubicon Project explains, “Programmatic television promises media buyers a way to infuse their linear TV buys with audience targeting that adds effectiveness beyond typical demographics and ratings points… to identify desired audiences, and purchase TV spots against these audiences programmatically.”

2. Expand your reach and frequency

Communications work best when you reach a wide audience with the proper frequency of advertising impressions. Augmenting your TV buys with significant digital video support will improve how you “surround” your best audience with the right mix of impressions. For example:

  • Try private marketplace (PMP) deals with networks that let you manage real-time targeting and brand-safety.
  • Place Pre-Roll and Mid-Roll in digital-first video channels like Hulu that have specific demographics that allow
  • advertisers to target the right ad, to the right person, at the right time.
  • Target cord-cutter audiences with over-the-top (OTT) programmatic buys that have the added advantage of reaching 2+ viewers per session, according to a recent study conducted by Nielsen.

3. Go micro

Micro-ads, the six-second ads that appear on social platforms such as Snapchat and in social video, are perfectly tuned for a world where mobile devices are proliferating, and attention spans are shrinking or shifting.  

  • Twitter users are becoming increasingly accessible to advertisers. As the platform expands into streaming with sports, news, and entertainment video, Twitter offers brands the option to place mid-roll and pre-roll micro-ads with the content. To capture the second-screeners, Twitter’s TV Targeting product allows brands to promote Tweets to people engaged with specific TV shows, before, during and after a telecast.
  • According to an Ad Age article, “Early tests within LinkedIn… reveal that users are sharing video 20 times more than other content like images or posts.” LinkedIn is launching native video for 2018 to allow brands to bring micro-ads to its engaged B2B audience.


Today’s shift  to multi-screen viewing creates a wonderful opportunity for marketers to reach audiences in new ways. With careful media planning, TV, online video and other digital touchpoints can be coordinated. Consumers win by receiving an optimal frequency of messaging, not too much or too little. And marketers benefit with new targeting,
transparency, and analytics controls.


*includes broadcast TV (network, syndication and spot) and Cable TV;
**includes advertising that appears on desktop and laptop computers as well as mobile phones, tablets and other internet-connected devices, and includes all the various formats of advertising on those platforms

Source: eMarketer, Sep 2016