TotalRetail: With Great Consumer Choice Comes Great Complexity: TV Viewer Engagement in 2020

This was originally published in TotalRetail.

One thing is for sure: media and retail are both challenging environments. Retail is facing challenges from increased consumer choice — in-store, online, social media — and complexity is everywhere. Despite those challenges, holiday retail sales grew 3.4 percent this year, according to a MasterCard Spending Pulse Survey.

With media, viewers have more choice than ever, and are watching ads across linear and over-the-top (OTT), and doing so across more devices and services than ever. This fragmented environment is hard to plan for and hard to measure impact. Despite the complexity, TV holds significant value for promoting retail brands and timely sales, with retailers spending more than $7 billion annually on TV advertising. But how well are those ads working? Are they reaching viewers and generating attention? Technology has led to complexity, but it also has enabled measurement that's only now possible.

Historically, most advertisers relied on ratings alone to measure TV ad reach. But according to IPG Media Lab, 29 percent of all TV ads air to an empty room. These nonviewable ads — for which no one was in the room for at least two seconds — are inefficient and prevent brands from capturing consumer attention and driving impact. For innovative brands, ratings data is now complemented with TV attention metrics to determine how to maximize the impact of every TV ad dollar spent. For these brands, by optimizing for network, daypart and program, they're able to reap significant rewards

Here's the list of the top 10 physical retail brands for 2019, ranked by their ad attention. The category average is 71.5 percent for ad attention, right in line with the IPG Media Lab average of 71 percent. As we look at the leader, T.J.Maxx, the retailer planned much more efficiently than its competitors, generating almost 5 percent higher attention than the industry average. According to MediaRadar, T.J.Maxx spent $189 million on TV in 2019. That 5 percent difference equates to more than $9 million in working media.

What drove that performance? Several programs with high media weight from retail brands performed well, such as The Late Late Show with James Corden (89.2 percent), Bob (Hearts) Abishola (85.7 percent), The Real Housewives of Dallas (85.7 percent), and ABC’s Nightline (84.9 percent). Others? Not so much.

Top 10 Physical Retail Stores by TV Attention

  1. T.J.Maxx, 75.7 percent
  2. Sunglass Hut, 75.4 percent
  3. Dick's Sporting Goods, 75.3 percent
  4. Walgreens, 75.2 percent
  5. Marshalls, 74.8 percent
  6. PetSmart, 74.8 percent
  7. Eddie Bauer, 74.7 percent
  8. Victoria’s Secret, 74.5 percent
  9. HomeGoods, 74.2 percent
  10. Nordstrom, 74.2 percent

Source: Jan. 1 - Dec. 31, 2019; C3, All Viewers and Dayparts

Not On the List Above? Here’s How to Get Started.

As you start 2020 Upfront or quarterly media planning, focus on TV attention. Your ads can’t drive action if they aren’t seen. Most brands utilize attention measurement to maximize the impact of their digital media spend; the same principles should apply to TV and OTT.

When ad buys are optimized for attention, return on ad spend increases. As we look to 2020, retail advertisers should leverage this engagement data to improve the impact of their TV spend. Identify high and low performers by program, daypart, pod position, and more. With this layer of data, retail brands can ensure more of the $7 billion ad spend goes to actively reaching and engaging consumers, not airing to an empty room.


TV and CTV Attention Report
The TV and CTV Attention Report