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When does ad targeting on Connected TV NOT matter?

Article written by Lee Harrison, Head of Sales Strategy at Origin

In the fast-paced world of CTV advertising, marketers often focus on targeting their audience with absolute precision. While targeting undoubtedly plays a crucial role in campaign success, it is essential to remember that captivating and memorable ad creatives hold the key to leaving a lasting impression on viewers.

In short - is targeting the be all and end all for performance on CTV?

In this article, I delve into what I would argue is the golden age of television adverts from the 80s and 90s and explore how these timeless creative gems with their dangerously catchy taglines managed to captivate audiences - and sell products - without the aid of 15,000 data segments.

Additionally, we will touch upon the removal of cookies by Google and its potential impact on future advertising strategies, and close with why the creative technology we have today could be one of the most overlooked advances the CTV advertising industry has in its possession right now.


In the era before sophisticated targeting algorithms and troves of 1st and 3rd party data that could tell you to within a level of certainty how interested a specific household is in buying a used car of having their first kid, marketers relied heavily on the quality of their creative to resonate with viewers. Television adverts of the 80s and 90s became iconic for their ability to entertain, evoke emotions, stick in our memories and become a topic of conversation in the elevator to work long after they aired. Brands understood the importance of storytelling, memorable characters, catchy jingles, and engaging visuals.

These were adverts that through the art of storytelling and pure poetry transcended demographic boundaries, resonated with the moment and became part of popular culture. Here, let's take a stroll down memory lane - and for those of you who were born a little after the time I am talking about, welcome to the 80s:

Apple's "1984" (1984)

Apple's groundbreaking Super Bowl commercial introduced the Macintosh computer by contrasting it with an Orwellian dystopia. Directed by Ridley Scott, this advert demonstrated the power of creativity and originality in capturing the audience's attention.

Coca-Cola's "Mean Joe Greene" (1979)

While not strictly from the 80s or 90s, this timeless Coca-Cola commercial deserves mention. It showcased a heartwarming interaction between a young boy and football legend "Mean" Joe Greene, emphasizing the joy and connection that a simple act of kindness can create.

Nike's "Just Do It" (1988)

Nike's slogan became a cultural phenomenon, thanks in part to their powerful advertising campaigns. Their adverts featured influential athletes like Michael Jordan and Bo Jackson, inspiring viewers to embrace their inner champions and pursue their dreams. Their choice for the main character to be an old man crystalized Nike's entire mission.

McDonald's "The Showdown" (1993)

This iconic McDonald's advert featured basketball legends Michael Jordan and Larry Bird engaging in a playful game of one-on-one, showcasing their skills while playfully competing for a Big Mac meal. The combination of star power and humor made it unforgettable.

These adverts had one thing in common, being KICK ASS.

While targeted advertising can provide relevant content to specific individual 'intenders' as we call them, the removal of cookies on smaller screens is forcing marketers to think differently, or should I really be saying, thinking the way they used to about the vital importance of truly unique creative storytelling - and with any luck this course-corrected approach to the creative on said smaller screen will bleed back into the television we know and love today - aka Connected Television - aka CTV.

Advertisers will need to focus on crafting compelling narratives, appealing visuals, and emotionally resonant messages that transcend specific demographics. By creating universally appealing content, brands have the potential to make a lasting impact on viewers, regardless of targeting capabilities.

Before you go

I think it's important to share where creative technology fits into this emotionally charged equation. Well, it's quite simple:

  • In the 80s and 90s what mattered was the story.

  • In the 2000's and 2010's what mattered was demographic relevance, personalization and hyper targeting the right message.

What each of these eras of fundamentally opposing marketing practices have led to is a consumer who has evolved to expect not one or the other - but both. Today what matters is striking the perfect balance between each of the above and to do that as a CTV marketer in the living room requires a level of creative agility and dynamic creative production that until today has not existed.

After all, a truly great advert has the power to be remembered and cherished long after the campaign ends.


Origin is an award-winning creative technology company whose zero code TV advertising solutions have reshaped the way marketers captivate and communicate with consumers inside and outside the home.

Fusing pioneering CTV ad formats with proprietary technology and direct media partnerships that span the streaming ecosystem, Origin's products are embraced by brands, agencies and platforms who are looking to deliver a truly personal storytelling experience to their audience.

Founded by media veterans Fred Godfrey and Stephen Strong, Origin is driven by a relentless belief that the time has come to challenge tradition and enrage the status quo. Learn more at


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