How Annika Buys Media For High-Performing TV Campaigns

For decades, TV media was bought the same way. Media buyers purchased ad slots based on broad demographic data provided by networks. They focused on a few select networks, prioritizing placements during popular show times or events. 

But eventually cable TV gained mainstream status. Then, streaming services emerged. There was suddenly an infinite amount of content to watch in hundreds of different ways.  

As a result, viewing behavior fragmented. More choice for consumers has made it harder for advertisers to identify where their target customers watch—and the best ways to reach them. The old-school methods for TV media buying are no longer effective.  

So what now? 

 

How automation reimagines TV media buying 

Imagine you own a home renovation business that you’d like to advertise on TV. Based on the old method for media buying, you'd likely purchase placements on HGTV. You’d get visibility in front of your key audience on a premium network.  

But because of HGTV’s premium status, airings can be expensive. And when it comes to snagging airtime, you’re battling direct competitors trying to get in front of the same audience, driving prices even higher. 

Your potential customers watch dozens of networks besides HGTV, all of which offer media at different price points. There’s a strong chance you can find a more cost-effective option. Or a mix of options that might still include HGTV, but also feature dozens of other networks and publishers. It’s just a matter of finding the solution where you’ll have the most access to your target audience at the lowest price.  

Of course, that’s easier said than done. 

Here's the good news. While TV was evolving, so was the technology behind media buying. In 2007, we implemented a programmatic approach to media buying, relying on digital automation tools to determine the best way to share ads on TV. 

By this point, the sheer number of options for media buying had expanded dramatically compared to the early days of TV. When buying manually, the effort required to plan and purchase thousands of lesser-known intersections was too intensive for most agencies. This meant top networks and publishers become the “easy” button by default. Which in turn caused many advertisers to fight for the same limited inventory, driving up prices and cutting ROI. 

We didn’t want to play in this messy arena, especially since those top few networks weren’t always the right audience fit for a client. Fortunately, technology can accomplish what an entire office, working around the clock, couldn’t do—and make it look easy. With raw computing power, able to analyze millions (even billions) of data points without breaking a sweat, at our disposal, we could thoroughly evaluate the full slate of viewing choices rather than limiting placement to a handful of major networks.  

This alone was game-changing. But we also wanted the ability to learn with every buy, and that required artificial intelligence. 

 

Meet Annika, the media-buying AI 

Just over five years ago, Annika® was born. 

Most agencies white-label their media buying platform. Not us. Building off our programmatic platform, we developed our own one-of-a-kind media-buying AI.   

Designed to identify value across linear and streaming TV using AI, machine learning, and market intelligence, Annika is programmed with an advertiser’s unique performance criteria and target audience then analyzes billions of data points across first-, second-, and third-party sources to find the best buys for brands. And with predictive rate and performance intelligence, Annika can even predict the outcomes of buys before they’re made. 

At her core, Annika is an intelligent, adaptive system, continuously learning from expansive datasets to refine her media buying strategies. In fact, Annika crosses over into the more advanced areas of AI and machine learning since she has such capacity for learning and reasoning. 

 

How does Annika work? 

Pricing 
Annika integrates historical pricing data reflecting billions in client spending across various demographics. Then, she evaluates opportunities across the full TV landscape based on advertisers’ unique campaign objectives. And finally, she recommends buys to buyers who can efficiently select what makes the most sense for each campaign. 
 
Targeting 
Armed with real-time data from providers like MRI and Nielsen, and our proprietary warehouse of demographic profiling technology and historical performance information, Annika finds the most efficient ways to reach your audience.  
 
Distribution 
There are thousands of media properties. Annika wires them all together to ensure advertisers take advantage of every opportunity, intelligently invest media dollars across multiple opportunities, and optimize for forecasted returns. 
 
Measurement 
Annika continually analyzes performance to optimize future buys, so campaigns grow more effective over time. And with Annika’s help, our team has access to the data needed to evaluate TV performance through multiple models ranging from media mix modeling, time-series analysis, brand studies, and more, to ensure you can feel confident in the accuracy of your results. 

 

With Annika, our clients have achieved the same reach as some of the biggest brands on TV (brands like Walmart, HomeDepot, and IBM) at half the cost. This means TV budgets are spent as efficiently as possible, hitting potential customers at the best possible price. The outcome? Higher ROI. 

 

The future of TV media buying 

TV is still evolving, and probably won’t ever stop. Our journey into complexity is ongoing. That’s why we needed a tool that could evolve alongside TV and video. In 2023, we launched Annika Streaming to purchase streaming and CTV inventory more efficiently than current marketplace offerings allowed. This new arm of Annika’s media buying capabilities was a natural evolution of how we’d purchased linear TV for years.  

Also, just because Annika’s a genius (she is), doesn’t mean human media buyers aren’t important. Our team works closely with Annika to verify her decisions and forge new opportunities with networks and publishers. It’s a human/technology partnership at its finest. 

No one knows exactly what the future of TV looks like. But with Annika, we’re ready to help advertisers make the most of it. 

 

Discover how Annika’s built to buy better 

Connect with our team to talk about how Annika could help your brand grow through TV advertising