Today’s column is written by Scott Ferber, founder and CEO at Videology.
They say the first four stages of change are precontemplation, contemplation, preparation and, finally, action. After attending the recent National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) convention, it’s clear that the TV industry has entered the fourth stage when it comes to embracing advanced TV advertising.
Historically, the NAB attracted large numbers of engineers, operations and production professionals. Perhaps it’s no surprise then that much of the conversation this year, both onstage and off, centered on how to get things done. Those “things” focused on advanced TV advertising, defined loosely as the ability to bring new data sets and increased automation to TV transactions.
Why the uptick in interest surrounding Advanced TV this year? Things are changing quickly. NBC said it will set aside $1 billion in audience-based inventory this season. Rivals Fox, Viacom and Turner have teamed up on a platform, Open AP, to standardize audience targeting.
The underlying impetus for these changes is multifaceted. Shifting cross-device viewing patterns are fueling the move to new data-driven TV advertising opportunities, as is a relatively weaker TV environment in a non-Olympic, nonpresidential election year.
But when it comes to pressure to move fast, perhaps there is no greater force than the digital giants. Google and Facebook alone now account for 20% of all global ad dollars and 87% of all digital ad dollars outside of China. Moreover, on the first day of the NAB conference, Google announced that it was adding advanced TV-buying capabilities to its demand-side platform, DoubleClick Bid Manager.
What does all this mean for the TV industry?
TV Must Create The Standards for Advanced Advertising, Or Someone Else Will
Standards can mean many things, but let’s start with the big picture. Google defined the rules of search. Facebook defined the rules of social. And it’s not impossible that with its size and scope, Google will try to define the new rules of TV.
How do TV players stop this from happening? First, let’s consider what Google and Facebook are best at: targeted audience reach. They have a lot of users and data. How can TV broadcasters compete?
While some network groups have significant scale, when it comes to highly targeted audiences, such as dog owners, it might be necessary to buy inventory across different providers to achieve adequate, unduplicated reach. That’s why an initiative such as Open AP, which allows advertisers to target consumer segments consistently across networks and present unified post-campaign measurement, is a great example of the industry coming together to solve its own challenges. Without such efforts, digital-first giants maintain an advantage.
Of course, this is just one example involving data. We also need to come together to bring greater symmetry and standardized protocols to workflows, operations and measurement for this new world of audience-based, data-driven TV advertising. I applaud the efforts of the Future of TV initiative that gathered more than 150 broadcasters, networks, MVPDs and technology companies during the NAB show to discuss and map these issues.
TV Needs To Flaunt Its Advantages (Because They Still Matter)
TV has been great at certain things for a long time. Efficiency of the planning and buying process is one. Providing brand-safe, engaging, premium content is another. This is an area where TV consistently wins, and it still matters to advertisers – a lot. Look no further than YouTube’s recent troubles and the major advertisers who cut spending due to brand-safety concerns.
TV also remains the core ROI engine for many advertisers. Its ability to drive awareness, brand affinity and purchase intent is well documented. As we begin to apply data to TV, we must remember that it is a very different medium than online media.
In the past, data-driven, digital media campaigns have been measured in clicks, searches or online conversions. TV – even highly targeted, data-informed TV – does not necessarily drive these same metrics in the same way, particularly in terms of last-touch attribution.
However, the top and the bottom of the marketing funnel are intrinsically linked. That’s why it’s so important as we enter the age of advanced TV advertising to put mechanisms in place to tie TV exposure to eventual outcomes, such as a website visit or offline sales. There have never been more ways to measure TV’s impact, but we need to measure the right metrics in the right way.
TV Must Recognize That It Takes A Village To Build A Market
As we learned from digital media, a point solution does not make a tech stack.
Interestingly, when I attended last year’s NAB, I saw many technology providers that were protective of their given turf as the land grab to stake a claim in the emerging advanced TV landscape began. This year, I saw a change.
Companies that may have viewed each other as competitors in the past were more open to discovering how their unique offerings might work together to move the industry forward, possibly faster than either could do on their own. Particularly in TV, with so many legacy system providers, the need to build upon, rather than displace, is greater than anything we saw in the digital space.
And this doesn’t just apply to ad tech. Broadcasters and networks also need to work together to make advanced TV a viable option for advertisers. Of course, this doesn’t mean that competition goes away.
Again, I’ll mention Open AP as a great example of this kind of strategic alliance. Even though the networks may agree to common data sources, they still need their own optimization systems to deliver upon those guaranteed strategic audiences. They still need great content to attract those audiences. And they will still need to distribute that content via the best channels to reach potential viewers.
It will take a village to reshape a market as large as the $72 billion US TV marketplace. While competition is good, any company’s proverbial secret sauce remains the topping on the burger. First, you need the meat. The end goal is allowing all TV ecosystem players to participate in the growth that advanced TV can bring by providing new solutions to advertisers, thereby protecting and developing TV’s share of the data-driven advertising landscape.