Intelligent Activation Drives TV ROI: Lessons Across Categories and Brands

By Ira Haimowitz

Our clients are telling us that they want to be more efficient with paid media, ensuring that they reach the right customers with their brand messages in order to drive product sales. In television, still the largest media channel for most consumer packaged goods (CPG) advertisers, historically media has been purchased by demographics such as gender, age and family composition. But we’re hearing that our clients want more flexibility with their media buying. In fact, they want their media spend to be based on actual consumer purchasing behavior or on custom research segments developed for messaging and tied to brand goals.

This is obviously no small order. It takes the right data, the right insights and the right experts to help clients gain these media efficiencies.

The IRI Media Team has been working with Rentrak, a leader in the media measurement space, over the past year to make media planning, buying and measurement more efficient through purchase-based, demographic and custom segments (this video clip from the recent Ad Age Data Conference provides a quick overview).

We’ve been able to map purchase-based targets to all U.S. households for thousands of brands and categories across over 240 networks, over 16 million households and over 30 million set top boxes. We’re combining IRI ProScores™, which identifies consumers’ propensity to purchase, with Rentrak’s Exact Commercial Ratings™. Together, we’ve examined more than 30 brands across ten consumer packaged goods (CPG) categories, covering over $300 million in annualized ad spend for products ranging from beverages and snacks, to cold cereal, healthcare, cosmetics and more. Here’s what we found:

On average, CPG manufacturers advertise on 28 networks, and they average about 700 GRPs per quarter. These brands can gain an average of 23 percent in efficiencies through three main methods: 1) switching to ad pod locations gaining higher viewership, 2) shifting to networks, dayparts, and shows with higher reach to targets, and 3) shifting to long tail networks that have not been purchased but may be cost effective and well suited to specialized categories.

The largest efficiency impacts were with large brands with broad-based female demographic advertising buys across a wide range of 35 or more networks. For example:

  • A major women’s hair coloring brand purchased ads across 42 networks during one quarter but lost efficiency when several of the women and family networks were not viewed by high brand buyers.
  • A large candy brand with a high spend on 56 networks aimed for very high reach and frequency but could only maintain that with a more focused set of networks and dayparts consisting of high category buyers.
  • A leading health-focused cold cereal brand on 40 networks could gain efficiency by shifting some of the women’s news and ethnic networks to other niche programming networks with high purchase rates of that product.

These findings resulted in nearly $5 million in annual efficiencies per brand – dollars that can be further invested in television or re-allocated to expanding digital and mobile media sources.

As you can see, the combination of propensity to purchase data and TV ratings data is a great way improve your ROI and ensure that every single dollar you invest in TV advertising is one that is well spent. 

To find out more about these results and how they can apply to your brand, please contact your IRI representative or me at

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