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Targeting explained

Targeting explained

Posted on: July 2, 2023

There are various ways that you can use TV to target your preferred audience. The options differ between linear TV (i.e. advertising within programmes as they are broadcast) and more advanced options such as Broadcaster Video On Demand (BVOD) or AdSmart, so we’ve broken the detail down into these three types.  

Linear ‘spot’ advertising targeting

There are two main types of targeting within linear TV:

The regions you can advertise within on linear TV are the most granular for ITV – you can see more detail on those regions here. Channel 4 divides the UK into six broad regions - you can find out more here.

If you’re interested in targeting specific demographic audiences, it’s possible to buy from a list of roughly 15 audiences, which cover the most popular options, i.e. 16-34s, ABC1 Men, ABC1 Women, Children, Housepersons with Children etc. If it’s not possible to buy the audience that you’re most interested in targeting, then you need to choose an audience that is the closest match.  Your media agency will able to help you decide on the most cost-effective way of achieving this.

As it’s not possible through broadcast TV spot advertising to only target the audience you’re buying, your ad will also be seen by people outside of this audience.  This is one of the benefits of linear TV advertising, as these people are completely free, but may still be interested in your product.

The broader your audience is, then the lower the cost per thousand is (see How to calculate CPTs). However, as targeting increases and therefore the audience size decreases, the CPT in turn increases.

It’s also possible, through additional analysis of Barb data, to target audiences that meet certain criteria, i.e. Barb audience data maps against Mosaic audiences and a basic questionnaire that allows advertisers / media agencies to try and plan efficiently against a specific criteria.  For example, it’s possible to identify people who shop at discount supermarkets or people who own more than one car.  Using this data, you can see which programmes convert well to these audiences and you should therefore consider including on your TV plan.

Broadcaster Video On Demand targeting

As each broadcaster has a slightly different set of buying audiences (although most are the same), it’s best to speak to them directly to find out if it’s possible to buy the audience that you’re interested in.

Through their registration data, ITV and Channel 4 have very rich sets of first party data on their VOD viewers. Sky has a direct relationship with its customers and as a result, has an equally rich set of data at a household level that can be used to help you target your advertising. In addition, all three broadcasters offer the opportunity to target through third party data suppliers such as Experian and Mastercard. Furthermore, if you have your own first party data, the broadcasters do offer the opportunity to create bespoke target audiences using this, so you could for example target those that aren’t existing customers or those customers who are likely to churn.

Through VOD, it’s possible to just target the audience that you’re interested in, however it’s worth bearing in mind that there is balance between paying a premium for granular targeting versus a lower CPT for broader audiences.

For full details on what the broadcasters offer, you can follow the links below:


AdSmart from Sky is an advanced way of being able to target viewers within specific households when they’re watching broadcast TV. Sky’s technology replaces the broadcast advert with an alternative within just the homes that have been targeted.  What this means is in a street of 5 houses that are all watching Super Sunday football, for example, each household could see a different advert relevant just to them within the half-time centre break. 

Through AdSmart, it’s possible to buy very tightly targeted audiences based on their location (down to postcode sector level), or a wealth of other first or third party data such as household composition, pet ownership, car ownership, financial data and much more.

It’s possible to buy AdSmart campaigns across the majority of channels sold by Sky (which includes Channel 5, Discovery, and of course the Sky channels), and AdSmart can deliver addressable advertising to most Sky and Virgin homes, so about 40% of the UK.

For more detail on AdSmart you can visit their website.

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