How to target TV ads: A buyer's guide to set top box targeting algorithms

Brendan Kitts


Television ad targeting is undergoing a revolution in capabilities and accuracy. We review a variety of different targeting algorithms for TV ad targeting, ranging from the traditional age-gender targeting methods employed based on Nielsen ratings, to new approaches that attempt to target high probability buyers using Set Top Box data.


It wasn't very long ago that talk of TV targeting was dominated by discussion of age and gender breaks (Dawson, 1996). Today this situation has dramatically changed. Today it is possible target exactly your customers on TV. For the first time large amounts of data on buyer TV viewing behavior can be tracked and targeted with degrees of efficiency like that of the internet (Balakrishnan, et. al., 2012; Chang, et. al., 2012).

More specifically, it is possible to treat TV targeting as a precision targeting medium. You do not have to buy programs that will not produce lift. This means a lot of positive outcomes for the TV ecosystem: cost savings for advertisers, better relevance for consumers, better relevance and satisfaction for TV stations.