Ad targeting company Simulmedia takes aim at ‘spray and pray’ TV campaigns that waste money

US ad targeting company Simulmedia is claiming that national US television campaigns are missing their target, saying that in some cases up th 75 per cent of ads are being seen by only 20 per cent of their target audiences.

It highlights a $6.3m campaign for Unilever’s Axe in March which it says was not seen by 60 per cent of the 18-24 target audience. It also says a $31.9m TV campaign for Progressive Insurance was not seen at all by 20 per cent of all adults over 20.

Simulmedia’s figures are drawn from Neilsen data (Nielsen provides the official US TV ratings) and rival Kantar Media.

“When you are sitting fat and happy, there is not a lot of impetus to make a change. But I am fairly certain that whether we like it or not, the horse is out of the stable,” David Cohen, global chief media officer of Interpublic’s Universal McCann, told the Financial Times.

Consultant Wenda Millard, boss of consultant MediaLink says: “TV advertising always has been spray and pray. Because we couldn’t do anything about it, we used to laugh. Now that joke is long over. It’s not funny to waste billions and billions of dollars.”

People have been accusing advertising of wastefulness ever since Lord Leverhulme is supposed to have observed that he knew that half his ad budget was wasted (non-TV in those days of course), he just didn’t know which half.

Leverhulme founded the company that is now Unilever; he probably wouldn’t mind the current ‘wastage’ (assuming Simulmedia’s computations are correct) so long as plenty of Axe was sold. But the findings are embarrassing for Unilever, Progressive (and other advertisers), their media agencies and broadcasters.

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