Why TV media planning must ditch demographics

Author: ronny

Published: 4th July 2022


Why TV media planning must ditch demographics

When it comes to TV advertising, media planners still base their campaigns almost entirely on demographics such as age, gender and social class. But without behavioural data, advertisers do not have the full picture. Every demographic contains a wide range of tastes and characteristics, so age and gender categories are too broad and do not offer granular glimpses into an individual’s actual behaviours.

Not only this, but brands can sometimes suffer reputational damage if their ad creative has been informed by such broad categories; for example resulting in offensive stereotyping.

There’s often a very weak correlation between demographic data and the consumers who actually purchase a brand’s product. So what can advertisers do to increase the effectiveness of their TV media planning to reach their target audiences in a crowded digital market?


Demographic data isn’t effective enough in TV media planning

Most brands lack the rich data insights that would enable them to effectively use behavioural targeting when optimising their TV media. As a result, TV campaigns are often poorly designed and are ineffective at driving conversions.

To demonstrate why demographics are too limited to enable accurate TV media planning, we examined Mars Kind’s TV campaign from September 1st to October 13th last year.

We looked at two audience groups:

1)     An audience that was exposed to two or more Mars Kind TV ads

2)     An audience that buys snack bars, including Mars Kind, plus competitor brands such as Nature Valley among others

As illustrated by the charts below, the demographics of both audiences are very similar:


The charts show that the Mars Kind campaign succeeded in reaching the right demographics, so the targeting was accurate. But was the campaign really effective? Did it spark action?


Successful TV media planning needs Single-Source data

Using Single-Source data, which measures TV and other media exposure, purchase behaviour and location data over time on the same individual, we saw that Mars Kind reached  only 31% of snack bar buyers.

The Venn diagrams below illustrates this, showing that there was still 69% of Mars Kind’s target audience that was not reached.

In addition, of the people that were exposed to the Mars Kind campaign, 53% were not snack bar buyers at all and therefore this investment was wasted.

Single-Source data therefore finally enables brands and agencies to plan their TV campaigns based on consumers’ actual behaviour and not just their demographics. This allows brands to maximise their reach within the actual target audience and avoid wasting their budget on the ‘right demographics’ but wrong users.

A single source of truth to plan and buy with ease

It’s time to shake up the old model of TV media planning. With Single-Source data, advertisers get a single source of truth when it comes to their target audiences’ behaviours, revealing the effectiveness of TV campaigns and aiding future optimisation. Media buyers can also get a better idea of where, and how, to reach target segments, helping them increase ROI and drive conversions.