If certain studies are to be trusted, next year will represent a milestone in advertising history.

For the first time ever, the billions spent on marketing to people watching television will fall behind the billions spent on marketing to people online. As much has been predicted for years, but only now are the first batch of reports beginning to show a lead developed by digital.

While indicative of the current way advertising is served and budgets are spent (both following the lead of media consumption in general), companies would be ill-advised to celebrate a “win” for digital, but it seems very few have.  

PerformanceIN’s editorial inbox is full of press releases, articles, commentary and even events which centre around the “multi-channel” approach and a need for brands and agencies to have their departments working in tandem for an overarching cause. In an ideal world, communications across channels are shared, analytics is a centralised operation, with each touchpoint linking in to one another to create a seamless journey. 

So that’s why TV’s “death” should not be taken as gospel – assumed as easily as the headlines are trotted out – because billions are still being committed to it. 

For the crowd of digital channels on the other side of the fence, the action point should be to find a way of working with TV while major events like Euro 2016 and shows like ‘Game of Thrones’ claw in huge crowds that want to be there; up to speed and locked in the moment, with a smartphone in hand.

Our exploration of the tie between digital marketing and network TV takes us to the London HQ of ad tech firm TVTY, whose PMA-winning platform caters for marketers looking to seize on an opportunity presented by the big screen. 

‘Moment marketing’ – one of Deloitte and Warc’s six digital trends to watch in 2016 – is the phrase used to label campaigns which run alongside a specific event, like a TV spot launched by the marketer’s own employer or, in a bid to take advantage of TV’s reach without succumbing to its cost, one of their competitors.

A commonly cited example of the ‘moments’ we’re talking about is the goal which caused a swathe of Twitter users to head over to their timelines for a view of what the world made of the same event. From here, paid social can be used to launch a pre-created message to an audience of millions, tailored to the scorer, the team, the significance, or anything else deemed relevant. 

For a good example of measurable TV, use the example of a PPC campaign tailored to a keyword, relevant to an ad spot or programme. 

In its seven-year lifespan TVTY has managed to link up with some of the titans of ad serving, boasting integration with AppNexus, Google DoubleClick and adaptv among others. So when it came to trialling the platform’s TV Sync feature, where PerformanceIN was asked to queue up the triggers for a campaign aimed towards promoting an automotive brand, things got pretty complex, pretty quickly.

The engine room

Our starting point was a checkerboard of windows displaying productions ranging from sports to drama, in countries around the world. TVTY has some of its staff ‘logging’ commercials and setting up triggered ad campaigns off the back of them, although users can of course do this on their own accord. 

In a general sense, this initial set-up phase really is about matching campaigns to scenarios. It’s having the awareness that somebody in the market for a specific product may also be watching a certain channel, show and its accompanying commercials. We have to instill a sense of possibility in this scenario, but marketing in the moment is a huge business.

According to TVTY, bid volumes can range from pennies into tens of pounds for just a single click on a PPC ad. This may seem high, but when half of TV Sync’s users are doing so to launch online campaigns while their competitors’ adverts are on the big screen, it makes great financial sense. Not only are you measuring the impact of a TV ad; you’re measuring the impact of someone else’s, with far less risk than if you launched it yourself.

Measurement still vital

This does present a cunning technique of seizing on a ‘moment’ paid for by someone else, but ROI is still in the main frame, according to TVTY’s head of customer success, Alice Aram.

“Measuring success is key – marketers that don’t see a return on their investment will simply move spend elsewhere.
“We compare the click-through rates for identical campaigns that are TV synced and are not synced to confirm the tactic gives brands better results. For example, a recent campaign for HTC when TV ads were synced with search simultaneously generated a 100% increase in click-through rates while reducing the cost per click by 47%.
“Ultimately, if moment marketing and TV sync was not as effective as TV alone, brands would stop using our technology.”

And with that, there is a sense that things like moment marketing could extend its list of big-name suitors, who wish to tie their TV work in with performance-based channels like paid social, paid search and various direct response elements. 

Of course, it’s essential to note (again) that TV advertising is not “dead”, it still generates billions for channels across the world, and some of the bigger advertisers have been quick to criticise online for its problems with counting actual views. But if the future of TV really does lie in using data to target individuals, according to GroupM Global president Dominic Proctor, a test of the water could see the pairing of an ad with a show targeting a certain demographic, with the use of online inventory providing the landing pad to the two-thirds of viewers checking in with their ‘second screen’.

“TV will remain important because the biggest moments for consumers will always be broadcast live,” Aram adds. 

“Last year’s ‘I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here!’ was watched live by over 10 million people and over six million tuned in to watch the Champions League final.

And even if they’re not getting involved, there is always the chance of performance marketers going about their business with the help of what’s being shown.

“Irrespective of the channel used to watch live events, TV advertising can be very expensive for brands. For example, the average cost of a 30-second TV spot during this Oscars’ ceremony was estimated to be $2 million, an all-time record according to Kantar Media figures.”

With the world gearing up for a bumper summer of live sport and entertainment, it will be interesting to note where performance marketing edges into the frame.

TVTY’s EMEA MD, Antoine de Kermel, presents on day one of PMI: Europe on the subject of moment marketing – “performance’s natural bridge to TV”. Click here to view the agenda in full.