TV and Video Outlook: Q&A with Bell Media's Kristie Painting

We recently released our ‘2017 UK TV and Video Outlook’ featuring interviews with technology and agency leaders from the advertising industry.  Below’s excerpt from the report features a Q&A with Kristie Painting, VP of Digital Sales at Bell Media.

Read Kristie's full Q&A below and download our full report here.

How would you describe the state of the TV and video market in 2016?

In Canada, there has been a big increase in dollars flowing into the digital video market, and increasingly planners are looking at their video spend holistically. Television specifically is more complex I think: in the US and UK, we’re seeing a rise in TV investment and it feels like the pendulum might be swinging back from the over-investment in some emerging formats, like Facebook Video for instance. Marketers like innovation, but if it’s not coupled with results, they will pull back. I think we are also seeing a move back to understanding the true value of sight, sound and motion.


What do you expect to see happen in 2017?

As we move through 2017, one thing I believe we’re going to see more focus on is the quality and context of the environments where ads are served. I also think marketers are going to become more interested in ensuring that their ads are seen in full with sound, and will only be prepared to pay for results when those conditions are true.


Have brands understood how to best leverage the value of data? What can they do better in 2017?

The use of data normally entails a strategy geared heavily towards targeting consumers. Often that type of campaign is more narrowly focused than broadcast would generally advocate for. This is especially true where you’re using first party data, and you’re effectively targeting and retargeting your own customers. In TV, by contract we would traditionally hit our goals by achieving broad reach and frequency.

There is definitely a place for the data-heavy approach, but marketers should be aware that the narrower the segment, the less of the broader population will see a campaign.

The second thing is that, just as all content is not created equal, there are different types and qualities of data. You can buy a pre-roll video, but the ad may be skippable or not, the sound may be on or not, it could be served in front of short form or long form, good or poor quality content. All of these variables affect how the consumer will react to the message and how it will impact purchase consideration.

In the same way, data needs to be viewed with a very critical eye – because not all data is good data, and marketers need to be analyzing their results to assess if data is actually delivering the outcomes they are hoping for.


How are marketers approaching the issue of fraud?

I have to applaud marketers for taking this more seriously. There was a time not that long ago that many people closed their eyes and tried to pretend fraud didn’t exist. And it was a massive, organized criminal activity. You saw that in the proliferation of dishonest networks and exchanges that were leveraging this activity to make their margin. It’s very important to be rigorous about controlling fraud, because given any space to grow, it will run rampant.

We have less than .5% non-human traffic on our sites, and we’re very proud of that and work hard to keep it that way. Overall, maintaining the integrity of the supply chain is critical if you are serious about the future success of the market.
Did brands align their TV and video strategy across devices in 2016, or did they still plan their campaigns in silos? What will a cross-device campaign strategy look like in 2017 in your opinion?

Overall, planning definitely is becoming more integrated, in as much as there is more of an agnostic approach across different screens. That said, it’s still so difficult to understand cross- screen activity for a single user, and until that data becomes widely usable and can be used effectively, this will continue to be a challenge.

As we provide more options to the marketplace – whether it’s digital, linear or VOD—marketers are understanding the need to explore all these different devices.


What are the smartest marketers doing to gear up for success in 2017?

I believe that 2017 will be the year of programmatic guaranteed. The advantages of programmatic allowed marketers to breathe a collective sigh of relief, because of all the efficiency gains. But in that process, issues like fraud and viewability became a concern. Now, we’re seeing programmatic guaranteed come to the fore – because you can get exactly the inventory you want, as you would with a direct buy, but you can transact programmatically.

Programmatic guaranteed is more expensive than buying on an open exchange, because it’s worth it. I think marketers are beginning to understand that and work it into their plan.


How are you handling viewer fragmentation?

Multi-screen viewing and fragmentation are, of course, a reality and a growing trend. That said, for the time being, linear TV is still the best tool for broad reach, with on demand services providing additional incremental reach. And that includes a multitude of screens and devices. So, all of these options need to be considered carefully. Ultimately, fragmentation makes marketers’ lives more difficult, but also provides more choice to the consumer.


What are some of the biggest challenges or opportunities you’re seeing in TV and video convergence?

A game changer in this area is on-demand viewing, which has shifted content towards “anytime anywhere” viewing. Bell Media has embraced this trend by allowing consumers access to recorded shows from wherever they choose via our app. From an advertiser point of view, ads and programs are only counted as being watched for seven days after recording, but many are watched long after that. I expect we will ultimately see the ability ad insert in real-time, also enabling advertising to be more relevant depending on the time and type of consumer who is viewing that content.


What are your clients’ initial learnings and first impressions of Advanced TV?

I think there is a real appetite for understanding programmatic TV in Canada. That said, we still have a lot of work to do in terms of actually bringing a product to market. There will need to be a lot of education around what programmatic TV can and cannot entail before we see real adoption.

Making linear TV addressable is harder here than in some other markets, because the broadcasters don’t have an automatic carve-out of time as they do in the US, where the BDUs have a two-minute window to dynamically ad insert. In Canada, ad insertion has to take place on top of existing linear inventory – and that’s hard - it’s like asking an entire industry to shift.

I think what we will see instead, and I think Bell Media will work with Videology to achieve this, is
a way to automate buying, and enable audience targeting in a smoother and more effective way. But of course, we’re still at the stage of understanding the needs of market, so I think it will be a step by step evolution. The first step will be automating the buying process, and the next applying audience segments against swathes of programming, as opposed to program specific, which is the way it’s currently purchased.


Do you think programmatic TV will appeal more to traditional TV clients or to non-TV brands? Do you believe the value proposition of programmatic TV is different for each group?

I think it can appeal to both. Traditional TV clients for instance are going to appreciate the automation of the buying process. For non-traditional TV clients, there could be real benefits too – because instead of having to pick top brands, or day part for instance, there’s an opportunity to apply a more rigorous planning strategy around what audience you want to target, allowing that audience layer to run across a broad range of programming.

It’s going to allow us to tweak efficiencies, and then understand, if you tweak one element, does that improve costs or efficiency? How does that better activate your campaign objective? And I think that’s going to be the real value of programmatic TV - automating that planning in a smooth and elegant way.

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