Driving TV Viewers Down the Tune-in Funnel


Corey Rice
Content Marketing Strategist
Aug 6, 2019

Contributed by Nancy Yi – Sr. Business Development Manager

2019 upfronts are firmly in the rearview mirror, and broadcasters are now tasked with building on that momentum to help drive viewership for fall premieres. The new platforms and tools available each year present both a challenge and opportunity for tune-in marketers. But while the tools evolve every year, the goal stays the same – reach TV viewers and drive them to tune-in to a specific show.

Samba TV set the industry standard for tune-in targeting and measurement, and our partners range from established broadcast networks to OTT streaming platforms. The tune-in campaigns Samba measures run across multiple platforms including linear TV, OTT, and digital. 

When evaluating the different platforms and strategies, it’s clear that tune-in success can’t be attributed to a single metric. For example, a top performing tactic may be focused on reaching a small number of mostly returning viewers – which is adequate as long as it’s a part of a larger, multi-pronged plan. 

Driving viewers down the tune-in funnel requires several layers of cross-platform tactics and a diverse targeting roadmap in order to acquire new viewers and retain previous viewers. Let’s unpack each layer and examine the details:


Reaching new viewers in the Awareness stage requires casting a large net against a broad audience. TV promo spots remain a very effective broad-reach strategy, but they are also the priciest option with the most potential waste. Another challenge is advertising off-channel and the restrictions that competitive networks may place, such as roadblocks that prevent tune-in marketers from displaying the date and time of the advertised program. 

Using TV data to reach new viewers through digital campaigns enables tune-in marketers to overcome these roadblocks. TV marketers can retarget households that were exposed to specific promo spots with informative digital messaging on the program’s date and time of airing.  

TV data targeting also enables tune-in marketers to reach specific and valuable audiences based on their content viewership:

  • Genre: Target households who view similar types of content such as crime dramas, sitcoms or reality programs. 
  • Award shows: These tentpole events still draw broad audiences who are engaged with different forms of media and entertainment
  • Sports: Given the growing trend of time-shifting, sports remain a viable option to capture live viewers and sync with digital cross-screen messaging on broadcast networks. 


TV promo spots running on-channel have two big advantages: they’re less costly and they reach existing network viewers. Audiences who already regularly tune-in to one show on a particular network are likely to be more receptive to other programs running on that network. And we often see a network halo-effect in our tune-in analyses that backs up this hypothesis. 

There are multiple TV audience targeting strategies to reach viewers in the consideration phase:

  • Network Viewers or Lead-in Show: These tactics again draft off of the network halo-effect and can efficiently draw in viewers. 
  • Fans of the Cast or Showrunner: There can also be a halo-effect around prolific actors, directors, and producers.
  • Franchise: Programs that exist in a larger cinematic universe have an existing fan base and can be reached by targeting past viewers of the programs and movies in that franchise.
  • Top Indexing Shows: Samba’s Audience Discovery insights can help identify top indexing programs and networks that should be targeted based on viewership data from past seasons.

Viewers and Loyal Fans

Previous and lapsed viewers can be digitally reached through several tactics, and while most TV marketers have 1st party CRM data ready to utilize, these segments are typically limited in scale.

Using TV data to targeting returning viewers is an effective supplemental strategy and can help expand the scale beyond CRM to reach past viewers – and that’s just the starting point. The ability to customize a tune-in targeting strategy allows TV marketers to segment past viewers in different groups:

  • Lapsed Viewers: Reach households who tuned into the program previously, but not the latest season or specified number of episodes.
  • Catch-up Viewers: Capture households who are catching up or binging a show before the premiere by time-gating the look-back window.
  • “True Fans”: Interact with households who sit in the top 10% of viewers, in terms of time spent watching that program.


Tapping into social conversations is another effective way to reach existing fans. Social is a natural complement to TV, given that up to 70% of TV viewers are actively using a second screen. Applying TV data on platforms like Twitter can expand reach and allow TV marketers to include social messaging in their media mix. 

The fragmented and complex media landscape requires an advanced approach to driving tune-in. TV marketers who utilize advanced technologies and tactics will ultimately succeed –  using TV data to reach and measure target audiences has proven to be a highly effective parallel strategy to traditional linear tune-in marketing. 

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