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Social Perspective

What ‘Cutting the Cord’ Means for TV Ads

As Emarketer cited via Kinetic’s own research as well as Nielsen’s, advertisers running television campaigns are spending more on Facebook than ever before. But reaching a younger demo doesn’t just mean placement on social media—it means recognizing that such media is where many viewers are digesting content itself.

Live tweeting has become the best way for networks to promote their primetime babies—at airtime, the personal Twitter accounts of Kerry Washington (Scandal), Ryan Murphy (Glee, American Horror Story), and more transform into full-on reaction feeds as they join the hash-tagged community of fans, watching along with them.

But there’s a strange parallel paradox to this phenomenon—the “cord-nevers.” A recent online survey found that, “Of the 24 percent who don’t pay for cable, 18 percent are cord-nevers—people who have never paid for a cable subscription—while 6 percent are cord cutters, meaning they have canceled their cable subscriptions.” The data gets even more revealing when looked at from an age angle: just “65 percent of adults ages 18 to 31 subscribe to cable,” compared to 80% of those 32 and older.

The place where this is having the most immediate impact is ratings: FOX, ABC and NBC all suffered double-digit drops in the key 18-49 demo during this season’s first week. Murphy’s new horror-comedy Scream Queens was promoted to death (no pun intended), but only broke 4 million overnight. By the following Sunday, however, that number rose by a whopping 80% when factoring in viewers on Fox Now, Hulu, and DVR. The median age of the audience also dropped from 52 to 36—a stat that corresponds trend-wise with the aforementioned survey.

Networks are responding by looking at new metrics for the on-demand audience as a foundation for, ultimately, how to monetize that audience: “If you can’t measure it, you can’t sell it,” said Charles Buchwalter, president and CEO of Symphony Advanced Media. And not attracting buyers means viewers see a lot of the same commercials on VOD, for example, as they would live—a lost opportunity for brands, as are archaic restrictions on events like award shows (this year’s Golden Globes was not streamed live, while streaming the Oscars requires a tv provider subscription).

Halfway through a decade of anywhere-TV, the adaptation to our post-cord world is crucial.