For the past 60 years, TV represented the best way to reach the masses. With one commercial, you could reach a wide audience of tens of millions of people. It was brand marketers’ most powerful weapon, and they built their businesses on the back of this model.
But that model is gone.
The last time tens of millions of people assembled in front of the TV to watch a show together was when Games of Thrones aired on HBO. That was three years ago. And there were no ads.
Frequency makes the marketing world go round
The new “F-word” in video today is “frequency.” Frequency is the “other” element in the equation behind TV’s gross ratings point (GRP). GRP = Reach x Frequency. That’s how the world goes round. It’s the underthought aspect of the equation. Frequency on TV is why you see the same ad so many times even when you’re not the intended target. It’s why I’ve seen the same Chevy Truck commercial even though I’ll never buy a Chevy Truck. Publishers or TV networks will run an ad infinitum if it means overcompensating on frequency to bring in a guaranteed GRP goal. Frequency is now the essential element in a fragmented video ecosystem for marketers.
Today’s marketers need to reconstruct their reach across a very scattered and disparate video landscape. What makes that even more challenging is that it’s extremely difficult to measure that reach and frequency on different streaming platforms. A great many of these platforms like Roku or YouTube operate in “walled gardens” that make measurement across them extremely challenging.
This is where frequency becomes the hero. Once a marketer can assemble that reach across the many new platforms and account for the frequency in a thoughtful way (with proper creative and messaging), sales will boom. We’re seeing it happen at my company, Blockboard. By harnessing frequency, audiences are responding in kind through sign-ups, sales, email registrations, app downloads and more.
Frequency is the game-changer.
The problem of fraud when it comes to frequency
There is another F-word that also factors into this challenge. That F-word is “fraud.” Fraud is a multi-billion dollar problem in video, and there are three ways it hampers effective frequency.
First, tracking frequency with fraudulent data means the advertiser is not hitting intended targets and KPIs, and is receiving faulty data in return. Those clean reach and frequency reports that are standard today from all players across programmatic enable this. Layers of middlemen across the video landscape make it impossible to assign accountability, and the advertiser pays the ultimate price.
Secondly, by working in silos across linear and digital TV, frequency is tending to be high on fraud-free TV and then underperforming on digital TV, where fraud is rampant. You cannot watch the network news on the major broadcast stations without being hit with multiple pharmaceutical ads again and again. This is the epitome of waste. Yet when these same ads run in digital TV, they are often highly targeted in environments where their spots are skipped and more likely missed on account of heavy amounts of fraud.
And lastly, by overcompensating on premium, fraud-free publishers, frequency is going through the roof. A few weeks ago, I viewed a great many Olympic Games on Peacock and the NBC streaming sites. As a viewer, I was made to watch the same Toyota ads over and over again in order to watch the Olympic Games. It was a highly frustrating experience, which ended turning me off these marketers. The marketers buy in to a show that has a limited amount of streams, and their ad runs at extremely high rates of frequency. This is a problem that’s been exacerbated by direct-to-publisher digital-video buying and has been a persistent issue since the beginning of digital video. With the onset of programmatic, the pendulum has shifted to the opposite extreme with the onset of fraud and has steadily worsened over the past 20 years.
At Blockboard, we built our video platform on the blockchain to solve this problem. We use Ethereum, the easiest blockchain system to build on, and this allows us to present all of our work with transparency. We validate every single impression run and allow our customers access to all of that data. The results have been powerful. Our company is selling product, driving email registrations and delivering downloads at rates that are an exponent of the industry averages. By managing all of this distribution across platforms and devices, we can manage reach, frequency and targeting effectively to bring in advertisers’ KPIs (key performance indices). We’re defining a brand new category for marketers: Frequency Management Platform (FXP). The “X” stands for cross-platform because it’s critical to measure across platform to harness frequency. It’s all happening now, and it’s happening fast.
So what’s old is now new again, only this time it’s frequency, not reach, that’s running point.