The state of programmatic TV: A patchwork of parts that need to come together in order to automate the broadcast ad buy.
During a panel at Programmatic I/O in New York Wednesday, David Cooperstein, CMO of Simulmedia; Brent Horowitz, VP of business development at BrightRoll; Derek Mattsson, president and CEO of placemedia, Amanda Richman, president, Starcom USA and Jason Lopatecki, chief strategy officer for TubeMogul, took the stage to predict "The Evolution Of Programmatic TV."
While the panelists agreed we're still a couple of years away from data-driven, automated linear TV buys, many stakeholders are trying to grab a piece of programmatic TV pie. These include networks, cable MSOs, data companies, brands, agencies, video vendors and measurement houses.
And activity around the space is coming in at a trickle. Placemedia, for instance, referenced onstage a new buy-side partnership with TubeMogul to expand digital buys to TV. TubeMogul hooked up with Visible World's TV audience-buying platform AudienceXpress, as did generalist DSP Turn.
One factor precipitating these deals is the blurring line between digital video and television. As agency and brand budgets around "video" and "TV" evolve in to "connected" or "advanced TV" buckets, the tech will transition along with it.
"In digital, all the ads primarily run on one ad server, which is primarily DFP (DoubleClick for Publishers)," David Cooperstein, CMO of Simulmedia, told AdExchanger. "All the advertisers and publishers use one system to get the ad placed. That's a fundamental part of how the ad business works on the digital side. On the TV side, every TV company has their own billing system, ad-serving system and processes and workflow because they grew up organically. There really is no one platform that cuts across the networks."
If marketers try to buy ads on FOX, Disney, Turner and their various properties, there's no way to hit the "on" button and go cross-network. The process still involves plenty of faxes, emails and phone calls to connect the dots. Unlike in digital where inventory volume created need around rationalized pricing and yield management, the TV companies don't have a reason to upend their whole business and operational model.
Will that change and what will be the incentive? The opinions were mixed.
"Television has a finite amount of inventory and I think content owners will always protect premium inventory," argued placemedia's Mattsson. This is evident with the broadcast giants like NBC dipping its toes in automated buys in the form of guaranteed, private marketplace deals as opposed to an open exchange.
The key with automated linear TV, some panelists said, is the ability for programmatic to unlock inventory that has yet to be sold or packaged in a particular manner or tailored to one advertiser's interests.
"The reality is, everybody has unsold inventory, (and) using machines to get finer cuts of inventory… (based on) GRP accommodations, DMA, [etc.]…programmatic will surface in those smaller pockets of unsold inventory," Horowitz said. "If we're going to say programmatic TV is a reality, we have to be able to go into a video DSP or existing ad server and see placements/data that report across screens."
In addition, the ability to leverage consistent data sets along with real time decisioning, should be part of the workflow for programmatic TV buys. "While I'd argue TV workflows are incredibly efficient," noted Horowitz, the audience-targeting portion has not followed.
"Try finding 18-34 males on TV today -- I bet you'll be challenged," he added. "All of the top TV buyers (brands) have tremendous amount of data on their customers…we’re talking about Frosted Flakes buyers, not just operator/network subscriber data." This ability to extend first-party, transaction-based data into television buys is key.
But the most distinct challenge to the programmatic TV phenomena is getting the right people in order to automate buys. For instance, the cable infrastructure crowd isn't the same as the group responsible for turning subscriber data into (anonymized) marketable opportunities. The shift will involve technical, workflow operation/ad ops, and licensing execs working more collaboratively.