3 Ways TV Advertisers Can Gain a Competitive Edge Right Now

Less than a decade ago, a quick search for a specific TV ad would have turned up very little to no information at all. The identification of this gap in public knowledge is what led iSpot’s founders to develop an industry-changing approach to cataloging and measuring every second of every ad aired on television. Search for any TV ad today, and iSpot will show you the ad creative, the last time it aired, the show and network it aired on, and a wealth of other proprietary information you can unlock with a subscription.

Before iSpot, this holistic, real-time and granular view of TV advertising activity simply did not exist. Now, armed with this unparalleled ad catalog and real-time media measurement, brands can benefit from monitoring competitors’ creatives and media plans, as well as their own performance against industry benchmarks.

This level of competitive insight has become increasingly valuable as recent events — including the cancellation of live sports during the coronavirus pandemic, shifting TV viewership, and tightened marketing budgets — have forced TV advertisers to quickly retool media plans and creatives. Never before has the industry experienced such rapid, seismic change, making it infinitely more difficult for marketing and advertising leaders to get a handle on the current state of the market and best practices going forward.

Having a constant, real-time view of how competitive brands are advertising on TV is essential, particularly in this time of change and uncertainty. The following are three key examples of how brands are leveraging these insights to inform their media buying and creative strategies

1. Monitoring competitors’ creatives and messaging in real-time

Brands across many industries responded quickly to the global pandemic via TV advertising. Automotive companies promptly started offering special payment plans, deferrals, 0% financing and other incentives for consumers to keep buying cars. Restaurants and food delivery services focused on keeping customers safe with “contactless delivery,” and Uber (as well as a few travel brands that stayed on air) supported social distancing with ironic ads thanking consumers for not using their services. While it’s always important to keep a pulse on what competitors are saying in market, it’s never been more crucial than now. With access to a real-time ad catalog, brands can view and analyze competitors’ creatives from the past and present, and get alerts as soon as new ads hit the air. 

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Click here to browse COVID-19-minded TV ads, creatives by industry, most engaging ads, and more.

2. Knowing what networks and programming competitors invest in the most

Ratings, target demographics, and CPMs are all important factors that go into media planning and selecting the right networks and shows to advertise on. But brands should also assess where their competitors are investing for more directional insight. This is especially helpful for emerging brands that are just starting to advertise on TV and have limited data of their own. Take, for instance, The Farmer’s Dog – a direct-to-consumer dog food company that started advertising on TV last year. As The Farmer’s Dog ramps up its TV advertising, it would be wise to look at where other pet food ads are appearing for two main reasons:

Identifying the right frequency to compete

A view of how much top competitors (such as Blue Buffalo in the example below) are spending on certain networks can help determine the right frequencies in those areas. If an environment is highly competitive and The Farmer’s Dog can afford to go head-to-head, it might be worth ramping up frequency on that network and reducing frequency on others.

Finding the white space to own

Conversely, if the frequency and spend required to compete on oversaturated networks is not feasible, The Farmer’s Dog can identify white space to dominate on other networks while staying within budget. Only with granular insights can brands test and pull these types of levers with confidence and achieve incremental gains.

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3. Standing out from the competition in crowded ad breaks

Most brands on TV face the challenge of crowded marketplaces, where it’s not uncommon for a consumer to see two to three  TV commercials from two to three competing brands back-to-back. To combat this, many bands will provide buy guidelines to TV networks to ensure separation from competitors’ ads. The University of Phoenix, for example, had been doing this as a standard best practice with every campaign, but unfortunately had no way of validating whether this specific guideline was being met.

By using iSpot’s real-time Media Measurement and universal ad catalog, the brand was able to implement an ongoing audit to gain faster and deeper insight into ad delivery and placement violations. Since iSpot verifies impressions for all TV ads across a large panel of smart/connected TVs in real time, the brand was able to quickly identify violations against competitive separation, as well as self-separation and program/daypart restrictions. In the first five months of auditing, the University of Phoenix identified more than $1 million of infractions, which resulted in:

  • Make-Goods from various networks
  • 15% rate reduction from one network
  • More accountability to brand guidelines and significantly fewer violations
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Watch the full University of Phoenix presentation here, and tune into our upcoming webinar to learn more about how real-time TV ad measurement at scale helps brands advance their TV advertising and gain a competitive edge. You’ll hear recommendations from iSpot founder and CEO, Sean Muller, on how to:

1) Identify when, where and how consumers are watching TV ads across linear & streaming
2) Gain a competitive edge with a full view of competitors’ creatives, spend and media plans
3) Optimize your own media to drive business outcomes, such as visits and sales


About the Author

Kassidy Keller is Director of Thought Leadership at iSpot.tv. She covers industry events, marketplace trends and all things Martech/Adtech. For questions and inquiries, please contact marketing@ispot.tv.

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