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Under Construction: Why is Programmatic TV Behind Digital?

05 August 2014 | Blog

Under constructionProgrammatic advertising in the digital space has surged ahead, while programmatic TV is taking a little longer to catch up. While some advertisers are frustrated at the disparity, it may end up being a good thing.

Why is programmatic TV taking longer to go mainstream? The legacy systems of television make the answer obvious. TV is an enormous business, with $63 billion dollars spent in 2013 alone. And it’s a long-standing one, with methods and traditions that go back for decades. If digital is a top-of-the-line speedboat, zipping along and turning on a dime, TV is an aircraft carrier. It’s enormous and effective and very impressive, but it’s not going to turn quickly.

So it’s taking some time to build out all the infrastructure necessary, and to get all the players on board. The speed in which programmatic TV has been built out to date is pretty impressive—only two years ago, it barely existed. Now, hundreds of advertisers are flocking to buy audiences on automated platforms.

But is this relative slowness really a problem? Maybe not. There’s already been some backlash in digital over programmatic. Advertisers are upset over fraud and viewability. Inventory holders are upset over Race-to-the-Bottom bidding tactics. TV’s relatively slower construction pace has given the industry time to learn from its younger cousin, building in the analytics and business rules that will protect both parties so that the ecosystem as a whole can prosper.

We’ve come a long way in a very short time. But the measured, controlled pace at which programmatic TV is being expanded is turning into its own blessing.