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It used to be so easy, right?

If you wanted reach and scale for your campaign, TV was a guaranteed win. Buy a primetime placement during the hot show and your ad had a good chance of being seen by pretty much everybody.

Today, getting your message in front of the right people isn’t so simple. But it turns out that YouTube is proving to be a great tool to make up for the audiences that TV is no longer able to reach. Even better news for marketers is that YouTube is delivering audiences distinct from TV.

Live TV is losing its hold on viewers, with more people choosing to stream their favorite video content on their own time and on a wide range of devices. TV ads must be run at higher frequencies, at higher cost, to meet traditional advertiser goals for gross rating points (GRP) as reach is declining.

Let’s follow the numbers: According to Nielsen, compared to just five years ago, there are 31% fewer available weekly 18 to 49 GRPs across broadcast and cable television. TV’s decline in reach to 18- to 49-year-olds now requires a 46% increase in frequency for marketers to achieve the same GRP levels.

Also in that same time period — just over the last five years — we have seen broadcast cost per thousand impressions (CPMs) increase by 43% and cable CPMs by 54%. On linear TV, advertisers are paying more in exchange for less reach.

CPMs increase, even as GRPs decrease

A bar and line graph shows that from 2013 to 2018, the 18 to 49 gross ratings points decreased by $51M, while broadcast and cable costs per thousand impressions increased by $9.65 and $5.40 respectively.
  • 18–49 GRPs¹

  • Broadcast CPM²

  • Cable CPM²

It’s time to rethink our TV-first mentality, starting with planning and measurement.

Cross-platform campaign measurement

With Nielsen Total Ad Ratings (TAR) studies, we have the ability to directly measure TV reach against digital video reach. This comparison has demonstrated that, across industries and demographics, brands can drive significant incremental reach on YouTube.

We spoke with marketers from three brands who are trying to reach three distinct audiences, about how the learnings from Nielsen TAR results are helping them transform their video strategy.

Global automaker Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) used Nielsen TAR to answer a few big questions. Does YouTube provide incremental reach among the campaign’s intended audience compared to TV? What was the duplication between TV and YouTube? Where were efficiencies across the two platforms?

Nielsen TAR results for FCA’s RAM Truck brand showed that 59% of people reached by YouTube in FCA's adult 25- to 54-year-old target audience were not reached by TV. And though YouTube represented 7% of overall campaign impressions, it delivered 24% of the campaign’s in-demo reach to adults 25 to 54.

Audiences of all ages

We’ve seen dramatic results in YouTube’s effectiveness for reaching Gen Z and millennial audiences too. In Hershey’s most recent TV and digital campaign for Reese’s Christmas Trees, the brand found that YouTube delivered 10X the reach efficiency of TV.

For Hershey, reaching an audience disconnected from traditional TV and at a fraction of the cost was the sweetest success of all. In fact, 3 out of 5 18- to 34-year-olds reached on YouTube never saw the ad on TV.

Vinny Rinaldi, head of addressable media and technology at The Hershey Company, explains what the Nielsen TAR results mean for Hershey’s video planning strategy going forward.

“When our core audience keeps shifting toward cord cutting — and 3 out of every 5 people would not have been reached with TV — our investment strategy must change to ensure we’re reaching those households that are unreachable on TV. From what we’ve seen through TAR results, our most prolific brands are leaning into platforms like YouTube to ensure we’re growing video reach. Going into 2020, our video mix will start to reflect the value we’ve placed on growing incremental reach points with YouTube and OTT providers to drive household penetration growth for our business.”

This complementary approach to TV and YouTube also extends to brands looking to reach the 45 and over crowd. AARP has found that digital video is a highly effective tool for engaging its audience, which is more tech savvy and spends more time on digital platforms than most marketers think.

AARP saw that 70% of 45- to 64-year-olds reached on YouTube were incremental to that same audience on TV. And YouTube’s cost to reach AARP’s target demographic was 3X more efficient than TV. YouTube cost $51 to reach 1000 unique 45- to 64-year-olds, compared to $164 on TV.

Barbara Shipley, senior VP of brand integration at AARP, says of their results, “People over 50 consume an increasingly balanced media diet and AARP is committed to making sure they are getting what they need, when they need it. YouTube is a big part of the channel mix, so once we saw these Nielsen TAR results, we worked with Google to model out the optimal incremental YouTube investment to complement our TV strategy.”

AARP then ran a two-month test, doubling their YouTube investment, and were able to overdeliver on their incremental reach goals. They also saw that YouTube allowed them to exceed their reach goals at a more balanced frequency than they achieve on TV at their target cost per point.

Shipley says of their video strategy, “We are intensifying our multichannel approach to reaching this audience. They just want to see themselves more authentically represented, no matter the channel. YouTube is a great platform for marketers to use to bring those genuine stories to life.”

Put Nielsen data and reporting to use for your campaigns

For any advertiser looking to adopt a complementary YouTube and TV strategy, one approach is to start by setting a goal for incremental reach on YouTube compared to TV. For example, you might set an initial goal of 30% reach among an 18 to 54 audience on YouTube that you’d struggle to reach through TV alone.

After establishing your goal, use a tool like Reach Planner in Google Ads, which now includes Nielsen TV data for qualified advertisers and agencies, to get recommendations for maximizing your reach across YouTube and TV, including breakdowns of your reach across light, medium, and heavy TV viewers.

And if you’re using Nielsen TAR studies to measure the reach of your TV campaigns, take steps to include YouTube in that measurement. It’s the most efficient, accurate way to look at total campaign reach across channels.