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This is Class 4 where we will learn about Media Types. In case you missed it, catch up on previous classes. 

The TV landscape is complex and constantly evolving. From the days of only broadcast and cable to today’s variety of advanced TV offerings, it is a challenge to keep up with the latest terminology. With a growing interest in ways technology can bring brands and audiences closer together, media buyers are left to figure out how it all works. To help you navigate this complex ecosystem, we’ve broken out the core elements of the TV landscape into a six-part series we’re calling TV Ad Tech 101. 

A lot has changed since the first TV broadcast in July of 1928. After cable TV was introduced in the late 1940s, these two types of TV dominated for decades. More recently, indexed, addressable, CTV & OTT have disrupted this once monolithic industry. As fragmentation across the TV landscape continues to grow, how do you know what media type is right for your brand and your ad?  

It’s important to understand why and how you should leverage each type of TV media to ensure you’re reaching your brand’s target consumers. The key differences come down to audience, activation, and attribution: How can you target viewers? How do you launch a campaign? And how can you measure outcomes?   

The 5 TV Media Types  

To help you make the most of your advertising, we’ve broken down the 5 TV media types.  

Broadcast television, which includes news and syndicated programming, remains a vital part of reaching audiences at scale. In fact, nearly half (44%) of adults prefer to get their news on TV – more than any other medium, including online, through print or radio. This preference for watching news live means broadcast is immune to the pitfalls of DVR: viewers watch the news with commercials, as opposed to fast-forwarding through when watching later. By combining the relevance and resonance of local television with the ability to scale nationwide, you can deliver the right message to the right people at the right time.   

Cable offers advertisers access to cost-effective, premium, national inventory with the benefit of optimizing based on network, programming, and daypart. By advertising on cable, you get placement on the highest-quality content, meaning you can guarantee both brand safety and contextual relevance. Additionally, by pairing verified third-party research with your cable activations, you’re able to learn what drove success and have true visibility into post-campaign effectiveness. Reaping the benefits of both media types, many successful campaigns combine cable and broadcast.   

Indexed-based buying is determined by data that measures a specific program’s audience composition compared to all TV audiences. The index is used to identify consumers that are more likely to be in-market for a particular audience by matching household income or purchasing behaviors to viewing habits. Audience viewer data for indexed TV is data is gathered from set-top boxes or smart TVs. When planning for indexed TV, buyers need to weigh the value of high indexing, more targeted audiences that may come at a higher cost, versus lower indexing programs, that may be lower priced but reach a less precise audience.  

Addressable linear TV, much like indexed TV, is all about targeting. With this more targeted approach, addressable TV advertising enables brands to not only engage an in-market audience but also follow the customer journey by layering purchase and behavioral data to reach existing buyers. This provides a lift in KPIs including customer loyalty, market penetration, and competitive conquesting. The audience viewer data for addressable TV is gathered from cable or STB. Using this data, advertisers are able to deliver ads to specific households, based on things like income, purchase history and demographics. Interest in this media type continues to grow as automated solutions simplify the process of planning, buying, and measuring addressable TV advertising.  

CTV (connected TV) is television connected to the internet through ethernet or Wi-Fi. OTT (over the top) refers to video content that is accessed “over the top” of the traditional, closed television system. This includes video content streamed on any internet-connected device – including a CTV-enabled device. While advertisers may have concerns about this skippable ad environment, marketers have to be willing to go where their audience goes. As a result, what OTT and CTV may lack in scale, they make up for in incremental reach. To make the most of this media type, brands need to be strategic about frequency, context, and content.  

For a full rundown of today’s TV Landscape, download our new infographic. 

Be sure to come back next week for Class 5 of TV Ad Tech 101, where you’ll learn all about Distribution Partners.