The Programmatic Promise: Part I

09 April 2014 | Blog

exclamationProgrammatic TV advertising has been picking up quite a bit of steam lately. More and more inventory holders and agencies have become interested in using automated, data-directed systems to buy and sell impression-based ads for TV. While the premium inventory continues to offer the value of unparalleled reach, there is still inventory in the TV ecosystem that is underutilized. Programmatic selling offers the opportunity to create new value by aggregating audiences and selling them on an impression-basis to offer additional reach to targeted consumer groups.

That doesn’t mean that there still isn’t some skepticism out there. For example, Mark Trefgarne of LiveRail worried in a recent AdExchanger article:

This data is a step in the right direction, but it’s not being applied in a particularly sophisticated manner. While TV advertising planners have the information to efficiently outline media plans, Trefgarne is skeptical whether they’re actually maximizing these benefits.

“[The data] probably generates email or facts to someone who then sticks that in a tape player somewhere at a TV station,” he said.

A key component to making programmatic TV work, then, is workflow automation. TV’s legacy systems have slowed down the progress of the programmatic wave that has engulfed digital publishers. But a lot of these automation tools already exist, and agencies are taking advantage. Steve Hobbs of Amnet recently spoke at Advertising Week Europe, saying,

For years and years, planners and clients have been able to create custom audiences via segmentation devices that have been really interesting, really rich, and very exciting.

Then they pass that audience to the TV buyer who says ‘they look like ABC1 adults to me so I’ll plan that schedule just like all the other ABC1 adult schedules I’ve planned for clients that have got completely different segmentations’ so the schedule come backs and looks exactly the same.

Programmatic – for the first time ever – allows us to be able to buy those custom audiences that we’ve planned against.

The potential is enormous, and agencies are just starting to take advantage. As Hobbs notes, programmatic buying offers the kind of targeting opportunity that advertisers have always wanted, but that have never before been available. With the opportunities that automation and Big Data are now opening up, it’s now possible to sell the audiences that advertisers want. As household addressable TV becomes more common, these target ad campaign opportunities are only going to increase.

But what about those legacy systems? A few key players know how to work with the systems to create an environment in linear TV that’s significantly closer to digital than traditional TV. And as we’ll explore next week, it’s possible that having that roadblock has helped TV in the long run.