AT&T and Time Warner have a long way to go before their $85 billion merger will become reality, but if it is approved and allowed to continue, the outcome could be a whole new way to advertise to television viewers.
Targeted advertising has long been a staple of Internet marketing: one person on Facebook might see Gucci bags while the next sees an ad for the newest RomCom – but television ads still can’t get any closer to their intended markets than to market at wide segments based on time slots and viewing preferences.
A New System
The old system creates a lot of waste and duplicated effort for marketers, and it can cause advertising burn-out for viewers who simply stop seeing a product or commercial because they’ve been shown the same marketing piece so many times.
AT&T and Time Warner aim to take their collective data and use that to redesign television advertising to better resemble Internet marketing. Instead of ads running blindly, they’d run intelligently, so the viewer in Arizona might see a spot for water conserving shower heads at the same time a viewer in Iowa watches one for lawn fertilizing.
Marrying the data of AT&T’s wireless, broadband and DirecTV with more traditional cable offerings from Time Warner may be the first step into advertising’s future. As Millennials reject traditional marketing for more permission-based advertising and displays designed to help them buy exactly what they need, finely targeted TV advertising could be the answer to bridging that gap.
After all, that coveted generation is watching and streaming television wherever they happen to be, on whatever device is handy. Where TV begins and Internet ends is less and less clear every day, so marketing has to adapt to the market and not the other way around.
“This is clearly one of the significant envisioned benefits of this tie-up, which is the next generation of video advertising in a much more robust, targetable and data-rich manner,” Tim Hanlon, CEO of media consulting firm The Vertere Group, told The New York Times. “It’s almost as if the realm of digital advertising has been a dress rehearsal for the medium of television, which is now essentially getting ready for its full-fledged digital transformation.”