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New Trends Drive More People-Based Marketing to Digital Media

A young family of five sitting in the living looking at their electronic devices.

Even in a digital world, marketers are going back to their roots and using more people-based strategies — tactics that look to first- and third-party data grounded in a stable view of consumer identity. With an understanding of persistent, omnichannel, consumer identity, marketers can reach consumers in the places they engage and drive persistent targeting across a fragmented media landscape — while deploying well-understood audiences for more personalized campaigns.

Streaming media and ecommerce were major tipping points in the acceleration of digital channels. And consumers now have more control over digital experiences — determining where, when and how they consume which content, as well as governing more aspects of their buyer journeys.

Consumer-driven digital experiences raise the bar for marketers to foster the same level of relevancy and tailored content that have become the norm. For this to happen, people-based data and strategies must extend beyond offline channels and be integrated with digital to:

  • Diversify the media mix to meet consumers in the most popular content channels
  • Target across channels using a robust understanding of identity to keep the consumer view from fracturing
  • Start at the audience level to better act on insights and activate consistent targeting and messaging

Diversify the media mix

According to eMarketer, US marketers are growing digital advertising investments — with spend expected to exceed $190 billion this year. That’s a roughly 25% increase YoY, when growth was only about 14% in 2020. Retail is leading this revitalization — accounting for about a quarter of total spend — with financial services expected to spend more than $24 billion.

By connecting with consumers across touchpoints where they spend time, marketers can increase message reach, especially in engaging channels that offer opportunity to boost campaign performance.

To better understand consumers’ perceptions of and engagements with emerging media channels, in Dec. 2021, TransUnion commissioned The Harris Poll to conduct a consumer survey to gain insight into how streaming media was specifically growing in viewership and engagement.* The results of the survey revealed:

  • Of Americans who watched TV or movies in the past month, 70% said they streamed
  • Consistent with watching what they want, where and when they choose, streaming and cable/satellite viewers are more than three times as likely to stream than watch cable/satellite TV to reward themselves (51% vs. 16%), and more than twice as likely to stream when they really want to pay attention to a program (49% vs. 22%)
  • For streaming and cable/satellite viewers under 35, active streaming is even more popular; 62% are more likely to stream when they really want to pay attention to the program

As expected with more active content viewing, streaming can also lead to more engaging advertising:

  • 33% of streaming and cable/satellite viewers pay more attention to commercials on streaming TV compared to 22% who do so when watching cable/satellite TV
  • Twice as many streaming and cable/satellite viewers under 45 said they pay more attention to ads while streaming (47%) vs. cable/satellite (23%)

Adults are now spending close to eight hours with digital media daily — more time than many spend sleeping. Marketers wanting to engage with these omnichannel consumers require campaigns that extend across digital touchpoints, which increasingly means using precise consumer identity data.

Tackling fragmentation

Today’s marketer is not only expected to understand individuals but households and devices as well. People-based data helps keep a singular, holistic consumer view from fracturing.

First, marketers need to link offline identifiers to an expansive set of online IDs. To reach emerging channels, marketers need an identity graph partner covering people and the connected devices on which they engage. Grounding this coverage in people-based data allows devices to be more precisely resolved to individuals and homes compared to signal-grounded device graphs (see more on that here). With a precise foundation for identity resolution, marketers can reach intended targets. Devices also need to be resolved to most of the connected consumer population to drive advertising scale.

TransUnion’s survey revealed details about the prevalence of streaming media fragmentation, such as:

  • More than half of TV streamers (55%) said they watched more than 6 streaming channels in the past month among the 67 channels presented to respondents
  • The homes of 38% of TV viewers had more than one brand of smart TV among the eight brands presented in the survey
  • There were more than two streaming-capable TVs in the homes of 77% of TV-watching adults

Many marketers can’t achieve scaled, precise and consistent campaigns because they can’t execute against a persistent view of identity across a fragmented media ecosystem. With an understanding of many identifiers, marketers are better positioned to translate offline tactics and identity across devices and channels, and the publishers and platforms that deliver content.

A persistent view of audiences enables better targeted marketing

Rooting audiences in people-based data also allows marketers to ascribe consumer attributes more precisely for better segmentation and audience activation — though not every channel allows for an audience-first view. Unlike linear TV, which allows marketers to purchase advertising against a specific program, streaming and digital media offer more sophisticated audience targeting.

Likely because it’s capable of targeting more of the right people, streaming media advertising has proven especially effective in grabbing the attention of streaming and cable/satellite viewers under 55. The study noted:

  • Almost twice as many 18–54-year-olds claimed to pay more attention to commercials on streaming (43%) vs. cable/satellite (23%)
  • 47% of 18–54-year-olds said streaming has more engaging/interactive commercials compared to only 28% who said the same about cable/satellite

Using a data partner to uncover new attributes helps marketers understand existing and new audiences across streaming and beyond to power use cases like:

  • Leveraging rich data assets to mine customer insights across new opportunities, such as new product launches or direct-to-consumer initiatives
  • Learning more about high-value customers to inform and expand to new target audiences and drive acquisitions where offers will be most relevant
  • Applying learnings driven by first-party data to turn current customers into loyalists
  • Reaching ideal customers where they are — across streaming media channels and beyond — when they’re in-market or likely to respond
  • Building, expanding managing and activating through audience-building tools that expedite speed to market

Why TransUnion

Generating insights and audiences from a network of consumer identity rooted in offline data powers advanced audience targeting. TransUnion’s identity graph helps improve campaign effectiveness across channels and objectives by covering:

  • 99% of US adults and 120 million US households
  • 85% of US email addresses
  • All major connected device types and 95% of US IP addresses
  • Thousands of rich consumer attributes covering demographics, interests, behaviors and more

TransUnion enables marketers to succeed in targeting across digital channels and driving relevant campaigns via a deep understanding of consumers. To learn more, contact us using the form below.

*Survey conducted online in the US by The Harris Poll on behalf of TransUnion between Dec. 9–13, 2021; among 2,043 adults aged 18+ (among whom 1,878 watch TV). For complete survey methodology, including weighting variables and subgroup sample sizes, please contact David Blumberg at

The views and opinions expressed herein do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of TransUnion. The information contained in this blog is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal or financial advice. You should consult your own attorney or financial adviser regarding your particular situation. TransUnion does not guarantee the accuracy or completeness of the information provided. The appearance of external hyperlinks does not constitute an endorsement by TransUnion. TransUnion LLC and its subsidiaries and affiliates (“TransUnion”) make no endorsement, recommendation or representation with respect to the information provided herein. For complete details of TransUnion products, visit

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