It’s an Impression-Based World

18 February 2014 | Blog

TV advertising has traditionally been organized around units—advertisers buy specific placements, by network and daypart and pod, and their ad runs at that time regardless of who is (and isn’t) watching. Until recently, there wasn’t really much other choice.

But it’s becoming increasingly clear that a change is in the air. Digital advertising is organized around the impression, making it possible for advertisers to specify the audience they want and have their ad placements tailored to that. Now, with new technologies becoming available, it’s starting to be possible to do the same for TV and advertisers want in.

Local TV has suddenly gained new value—buying inventory from an MSO makes it possible to easily combine multiple networks, which also makes it possible to use ad tech to convert traditional units into impressions that can be aggregated into the specific audiences that advertisers want. But it’s not just the advertisers who benefit. Moving from units to impressions essentially creates additional supply for MSOs to sell. Unrated networks gain new value and undervalued inventory can be used to extend effective reach for advertisers (and for the marketing teams of the MSOs themselves).

Magna Global’s new Media Economy Report heavily features the potential for impressions-based trading of local TV inventory. As MediaPost reports,

The shift to “impressions-based trading,” Magna argues, would:

  • “Create additional supply by turning tiny, fickle percentages into hard numbers that can be aggregated.”

  • “Make local TV more comparable to other media.”

  • “Enable more precise targeting when combined with additional qualitative data.”

  • “Feed into new, more efficient buying processes for both broadcast and cable inventory.”

Essentially, switching from units to impressions gives inventory holders more supply to sell while increasing the value of that supply. It gives advertisers  an ability to supplement their effective reach easily, which in turn will create more demand. Inventory that used to underperform has suddenly gained a lot more potential.