Programmatic TV Driving Multi-Screen Conversation

Yesterday’s Advanced Advertising conference in NYC hosted by Broadcasting & Cable and Multichannel News drew a large crowd, confirming the growing interest in programmatic television, the topic of the day. While Broadcasting & Cable has been the anchor trade publication of the TV business for decades, the number of mentions of automation, data, pipes, cross-platform and TV Everywhere at the event rivaled that of any digital conference, proving that TV has clearly entered a new age. As always, a number of key themes repeated themselves throughout the day. 

  • Everyone agrees on the definition of programmatic – sort of.  Many questions posed to speakers centered on defining what we really mean by “programmatic TV.”  Universally, everyone agreed that data and automation were key to programmatic buying, but after that broad outline, definitions began to scatter as perceived capabilities and persistent challenges played into the responses. One of the best explanations of the three must-have components of programmatic TV came from Mediabrand’s Todd Gordon, who said programmatic must include high quality data, a tech platform to facilitate the buys, and inventory that can be bought on a granular basis.  He also urged, “Let’s stop talking about it, and start doing…” a sentiment echoed by many of the panelists.
  • The promise of programmatic TV is about business outcomes. So why bring digital precision and data to a medium that has worked quite well for many advertisers for many years? The answer is clearly all about the bottom line. Will it drive better sales and deliver stronger ROI?  If planned and executed well, the answer clearly is, yes it will. Speaking specifically about addressable TV, a subset of programmatic, Mike Bologna, MODI Media, said the right brands for addressable TV include “any advertiser with an appetite for measuring business results.” 
  • Programmatic TV is part of a bigger story. While programmatic TV is exciting based on the sheer size of TV media spend and pervasiveness of the medium, the bigger story is how programmatic TV will fit into the overall spectrum of video viewing across all screens. As Videology’s Brent Gaskamp pointed out, the end goal of programmatic is not about the 1% of dollars directed at video RTB, or even the broader allocation of budgets directed at digital video, it’s about bringing data and efficiencies to the 100% of video across TV, online and mobile. This requires not only cross-screen measurement, but also a diversity of business models that stretch well beyond the RTB models often associated with programmatic buying.

As the TV Upfront season approaches, many are wondering just how, or if, programmatic strategies, especially as they relate to holistic TV and video buying, will impact this year’s planning. Several speakers from both agencies and media companies agreed that programmatic, in its different manifestations, will play a role. Mediabrand’s Gordon agreed that its impact is being felt “clearly, right now,” and MODI’s Bologna said, “We’ve been talking about it for years. It’s here.” 

Yesterday’s conference certainly proved one point, encapsulated best by ESPN’s Zachary Chapman, saying, “It’s a multiscreen world, and TV has the ability to drive the conversation.”

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