Programmatic Cable Can Unlock VOD Inventory, But We’re Not There Yet

"On TV and Video" is a column exploring opportunities and challenges in advanced TV and video.

Today’s column is written by Chris Maccaro, CEO at Beachfront.

People who have spent their careers buying linear TV advertising are confronting a much different world. From direct-to-consumer streaming to cross-platform metrics, media buyers have new opportunities to garner and measure the attention of people consuming premium programming everywhere, including smart TVs, desktop and mobile.

Meanwhile, video ad buyers accustomed to OTT programmatic buys don’t have many options to bid into the linear TV environment. The aspirations of cross-platform “TV everywhere” are still not a reality. Disparate systems speak different languages, and no one has yet built a system to translate them all.

MVPDs have made tremendous technological strides to improve the ad buying process for traditional TV media buyers. However, there’s still a way to go before dynamic MVPD inventory is unlocked and unleashed into the modern demand side, enabling digital-like ad buying, particularly in the video-on-demand (VOD) environment.

Traditional VOD is untapped gold

The proliferation of video streaming has led to VOD ad spend growth outpacing other media, such as search and traditional formats, including TV and print.

That’s because set-top box VOD’s sales workflow is traditionally different from linear and OTT, the primary platforms on which buyers and sellers are transacting. The set-top box really needs to be opened up to the modern demand-side marketplace.

It’s premium inventory choked behind the red tape of legacy systems.

But unskippable commercials, which people purposefully watch and can't use the remote to click away from, create a captive audience and a powerful opportunity.

Part of the problem has been putting the cart (cross-platform audience) before the horse (fundamentally new technology). For example, cable conglomerates Comcast, Charter and Cox Communications said in 2018 they would build ad products that extend across their collective footprint. Achieving the full potential of this promising NCC-led initiative is no small feat, and it will require MVPDs and OTT programmatic tech companies working hand in hand on the complicated solutions required.

And while cable companies can focus on building solutions that deliver audiences across linear, digital and VOD platforms, they’re not all aligned on the technology mechanism – the ad tech piping – to make it all work.

The problem is legacy cable infrastructure is designed to efficiently and reliably deliver live content. And it does not naturally fit into the modern ad tech ecosystem.

Cable and programmatic moves toward VOD addressable

MVPDs need more than a modern OTT partner for ad sales; they need engineering. More specifically, MVPDs need to marry their own state-of-the-art TV engineering with modern digital advertising engineering.

But no technology has yet delivered the modern demand side to MVPDs in tandem with enabling programmatic, real-time ad buying in the VOD environment.

MVPDs and vMVPDs, which sit on vast VOD libraries, want to participate in modern ad selling such as open real-time bidding and develop real-time capabilities that tap into the modern demand side. But crossover technical strategies bridging TV and digital advertising have proven difficult to execute.

We have a lot of work ahead of us as an industry. It’s time to work together.

Follow Beachfront (@beachfrontmedia) and AdExchanger (@adexchanger) on Twitter.

 

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