Television Optimizers: Did They Change the Way We Do Business?

Andrew Green
ZenithOptimedia, Inc.


In the spring of 1997, four U.S. advertising agencies started preparing for an important new business pitch. Procter & Gamble (P&G) had announced that it was putting its $1 billion television agency-of-record assignment up for review—one that would encompass not only traditional buying of airtime, but also what was termed “tactical” planning.

Tactical planning of television—a role traditionally played by the buyer in markets like the United Kingdom but by the planner in the United States—encompasses the discipline of determining the daypart, channel, and program genre mix for a schedule that aims to maximize campaign effectiveness (however defined) for a given budget.

The agencies involved were told by P&G that they needed to master a procedure long computerized in northern Europe and parts of Asia—that of schedule “optimization.” Optimization, as practiced in Europe, defined “effectiveness” as reaching as many of the target audience as possible, at whatever frequency level was required, for a given budget.