"On TV And Video" is a column exploring opportunities and challenges in programmatic TV and video.
Today’s column is written by Walt Horstman, president at AudienceXpress.
Programmatic TV ignited a flurry of energy across the TV business last year. At times it even felt a bit chaotic, like a toddler learning to walk. Agencies new to programmatic engaged in a flood of RFIs, evaluations and position papers, while the seasoned holding companies drove everything to be faster, smarter and easier.
TV inventory providers jumped into advanced data with gusto. Data companies from opposite sides of the TV and digital aisle suddenly got married. New tech platforms emerged, others departed. Some built bigger pipes. And the “head of programmatic TV” became an official job across the industry.
While all this activity may have seemed frenzied, it sowed the seeds for advanced audience data and automation to drive the future of TV and create new value. If programmatic TV was a toddler in 2015, it will surge into young adulthood this year. Its energy will be more focused, its direction clearer and the transition to programmatic will become more stable.
However, the rapid growth in 2015 created a number of questions that must be addressed. The answer to many of these questions is increased transparency across the programmatic TV landscape. Transparency is an issue that digital has grappled with for far too long. Consequently, TV should address it quickly and with vigor.
Providing transparency will bring more maturity and at-scale adoption for TV. An all-encompassing term, transparency can be broken down into several key elements for TV.
Transparency Of TV Inventory
Agencies and advertisers should have transparency of the source of TV inventory for their programmatic campaigns and through which channels, either direct or indirect, that inventory is secured.
It is important to know if the campaign is being routed through different intermediaries before reaching the final inventory source, and, if so, what the value provided by each intermediary is along the way. Further, the more handoffs a campaign requires to reach the final inventory source, the more distorted its reporting may become.
Transparency Of Reporting
Agencies and advertisers must know where and when their impressions are airing. This reporting ensures that campaigns are delivered correctly across a national footprint. It also provides critical data for campaign attribution results.
As programmatic TV campaigns are increasingly measured against business outcomes through multichannel attribution models, detailed impression reporting is key to establishing TV’s correct contribution to overall business results.
Transparency Of Advanced Audience Data Application
Multiple data companies provide advanced TV audience data today. Applying that data to a programmatic TV campaign often requires decisions to be made about the size and duration of the audience segment to use. Outliers must often be excluded due to sample size.
Fusing multiple data sets can be complex and should be fully understood. Moreover, the translation of the audience segment data to the TV campaign should be fully transparent; agencies should be able to walk their clients through the audience data methodology used to select the networks and dayparts that are part of their campaign. Proprietary data methodologies or “secret sauce” data recipes should be viewed with skepticism.
Transparency Of Campaign Delivery Objective
Establishing clear understandings of the campaign delivery goals at the outset is tantamount to ensuring success. For example, is the goal to deliver the highest audience composition over the course of the campaign or to deliver strictly to network and daypart goals? These goals can often be in conflict so the trade-offs should be defined early on.
Transparency Of Business Model
As the programmatic TV sector has developed rapidly, it has launched a range of business models, such as software as a service, ad network, exchange, private marketplace and inventory provider rep model, as well as hybrids of the above. Transparency around the business models in the marketplace are important to ensure that goals and incentives are understood and properly aligned.
Programmatic TV raises many of the same questions that digital faced in its early development. The history of digital provides an important road map of issues that should be addressed early on in TV’s development. Without resolution, they could inhibit programmatic TV’s growth due to uncertainty from agencies and advertisers about how their campaigns are actually being run.
Transparency is the most direct route to resolving this question and it will guide programmatic TV’s transition into young adulthood.