Programmatic TV Advertising

Is It Time to Take it Serious?

In the ever-growing landscape of media, the way we purchase media changes just as often. Advertisers and brands are always looking to shorten the process, without losing any of the key details. With shortening the process and going against the norm, people can and will be hesitant to change. To get people on board with change, would be proven success, and in the digital world programmatic buying has become the new norm.

Defined by the Digital Trading Council, programmatic is the use of automation in buying and selling of media, which can apply to digital online, digital out of home, radio, television, and more. Programmatic started out as a means to use up remnant inventory, or what’s left over an AE hasn’t sold, but as technology and metrics have advanced, it’s become more mainstream. How it works is brands & agencies will work with a DSP (demand side platform) to decide which impressions to buy and how much they’re worth, and a publisher (website with open inventory) will use a SSP (supply side platform) to sell their ad space. The DSP and SSP will match in a matter of milliseconds, and along with the criteria you entered for your campaign, will match your ad up to appropriate sites.

What makes buying advertising programmatically so attractive to these brands and advertisers is rather than buying all of your impressions from one publisher and committing that money to set flight dates, you can instantly buy the same amount of impressions but spread those impressions out to multiple publishers and still target the audience you wanted to reach for the same dates. Can this model of buying only apply to digital, can the traditional king of media, television follow in a similar model? Linear TV (set top & digital antennae) is supply constrained, and digital media is the opposite, where the demand is heavily outweighed by the available inventory. If programmatic TV is to succeed it cannot just follow a blueprint molded by digital, the two mediums differ in many ways.

Television advertising spend on a yearly total has decreased recently, but as of 2018 roughly $80 billion was still spent in the US alone and linear TV still reaches more than 95% of Americans. Even with these large numbers, TV will remain supply constrained, putting pressure of advertisers and brands to place the right buy. By buying TV ads programmatically, buyers and sellers can engage rapidly, and move open inventory. How exactly will programmatic help traditional tv advertising though?

There are many reasons why programmatic tv ad buying could take over and be the focal point of the television ad business. This process would automate the planning & buying and have metrics across channels, screens, and formats. Martech Advisor broke down five major points as to why programmatic has promise to succeed: Automated Buying, Data-Driven Targeting, Cross-Screen Measurement, Unified Campaign Management, and Real-Time Optimization.

  • Automated Bidding: Traditional TV ad buying is still a manual process, once reports are generated, it’s too late to optimize. Programmatic will let buyers plan, execute, and measure alongside display, giving a better eye to all aspects of the ad campaign. This will speed up the process and eliminate manual ones.
  • Data-Drive Targeting: With programmatic, TV advertisers can go farther than just age, gender, reach, and frequency numbers of audience targeting based on GRPs (gross rating points). This will allow you to leverage first, second, and third-party data and optimize for a more personalized, relevant content to the consumer as they change the channel.
  • Cross-Screen Measurements: Ability to measure the effectiveness of campaigns across multiple channels, including TV, could be relevant in the very near future. This would help to develop a KPI between TV & digital optimization, comparable to GRPs, impressions, conversions, and more.
  • Unified Campaign Management: Over 77% of TV viewers have a tablet, phone, and or laptop close by, which takes attention away from the screen. A unified buying platform will provide a single platform for advertisers and brands to plan, buy, measure, and manage their advertising campaigns simultaneously, regardless of whether the audience is viewing the ads on the TV or another device.
  • Real Time Optimization: Programmatic will allow brands and advertisers to leverage real-time feedback to improve and optimize campaign performance.

TV Advertisers in today’s growing media landscape deserve the same execution speed, performance, insights, ability to measure as the digital world, but also preserve what has made TV one of the most effective forms of advertising. Programmatic TV ads are still very new, and many cable and broadcast networks may be hesitant to make their premium inventory available to programmatic buyers in fear that a data-driven model might decrease prices and ratings from these premium ads. Programmatic TV ad buying might not be ready for the large scale in the industry, but as the money continues to be invested and more start to realize the full potential, this form of TV ad buying will continue to rise. Joe Camaco, CMO at Sabio Mobile says “The biggest challenges with mass adoption are the change in mindset of the industry as well as growth of programmatic TV technology. Real time bidding as well as measurement for programmatic TV are still in its infancy but is surely on its way there.” Its not a matter of if this will take off, but when.