TV Talk: The Anti-Strategy Approach, with Squadron Venture Media

June 26, 2020

This week on TV Talk with Jo Kinsella, Jo is joined by Calum Smeaton, CEO of TVSquared, and James Burgess, Founder of Squadron Venture Media, to discuss how DTC and fast-growth brands are taking advantage of TV during the pandemic. The group talks about agility, flexibility and the “anti-strategy approach” of using data to inform campaigns.

DTCs & Other Fast-Growth Brands

Since Squadron specializes in fast-growth companies, James gave us his perspective on how these brands have been leveraging TV during the pandemic. James notes the number of new brands coming to TV during the pandemic. Many smaller brands have wanted to try TV for the first time – which has been a quick scramble for Squadron to get creatives live in a record amount of time. Calum states that TVSquared has seen quick onboarding with new advertisers as well. In terms of inventory yield, James notes that pricing in the UK is very low (from 40-85%) and they have been seeing unprecedented rates which allows them to test and optimize TV at a time of low input cost (airtime cost). In the end, James is hopeful that they are creating long-term advertisers and not just ones taking advantage of low rates.

James notes, “There is almost no area of commerce that can’t be changed by having a different internet-based model of business. And I don’t even think we’ve even started to see some of the biggest sectors like education, medicine and health be affected by that.”

Sectors grow very quickly (like the big-banking, money transfer and DTC mattress brands that have made a serious footprint). Jo notes that TVSquared has seen an online U.S. food delivery brand increase 100% in response rates now vs pre-COVID-19 (the highest TV performance in that company’s history), while reducing spend by 20%. TVSquared has also seen a DTC fitness brand optimize its UK campaign to be 5x more effective at driving sales, while reducing CPC by 69%.

The Anti-Strategy Approach

James states that we live in an era where people are convinced that they are able to use data to answer any question before actually testing out the answer. James gives an example of a loan company that assumed its audience (business-focused) would be watching TV at night and on the weekends. If you planned the campaign this way, you might have a campaign for nighttime weekdays and weekends. James said that going with the anti-strategy (or “pretend like you know nothing”) approach, and setting up the campaign to run across all TV and dayparts, the results were opposite of what was expected (consumers were actually only responding during weekdays and during the daytime). He stresses that advertisers need to be led by their own response data to inform strategies.

James leaves us with this: “In TV advertising, perhaps as in life, it’s best to start from a point of understanding how little you know and then building that knowledge base from scratch, rather than taking too many assumptions (and using the wrong type of data to form those assumptions).”

Check out the full episode here. TV Talk with Jo Kinsella is also available via Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Stitcher and Google Podcasts.

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