Targeting explained

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 the regions you can buy here. Channel 4 divides the UK into six broad regions, again you can see more detail from Channel 4 on this 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). The smaller your audience is, then the more expensive your CPT is i.e. buying 16-34s is roughly £30 per thousand, whilst All Adults is roughly £6 per thousand.

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 are the programmes that convert well to these audiences and should therefore be 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 a very rich set of first party data on their VOD viewers.  Sky, as it has a direct relationship with its customers, has an equally rich set of data at a household level that can be used to help you target your advertising.

Through VOD, it’s possible to just target the audience that you’re interested in, and so is generally more cost effective when targeting smaller or niche audiences.

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


AdSmart by Sky is a very 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 a specific advertisement within the homes that have been targeted.  What this means is, in a street of say 5 houses that are all watching the Super Sunday football, each could all see a different advert relevant for them within the half time centre break. 

Through Adsmart, it’s possible to buy very tightly targeted audiences based on their postcode, or a wealth of other data such as household make up, pet ownership, car ownership, financial data and much more.

It’s possible to buy AdSmart camapigns across the majority of channels sold by Sky (which includes Channel 5, Discovery, Viacom, and of course the Sky channels), and AdSmart can deliver addressable advertising to most Sky and Virgin homes, so just under 50% of the UK.

For more detail on AdSmart you can visit their website.


Audience profiles

Headline facts and figures for the key TV buying audience profiles, from their universe size to the average number of ads they view per day.


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