TV Or Not To Be, Programmatic Trading Is The Question

Maybe I’m just reading between the lines, but I thought there were some telling things said by media buyers during MEDIA magazine’s Outfront Forum in NYC Tuesday that suggest the science of programmatic audience buying may soon begin to impact the way they buy television, as well as online media. The forum was a little unusual, for sure, with some journalists, including myself, role-playing TV network sales executives in a mock debate with some of Madison Avenue’s biggest media buyers. I say mock, but there were some really important things said. When moderator David Verklin posed the question about the role programmatic is beginning to have on the way agencies buy television, and even potentially the upfront, I expected the agencies to guffaw, but they didn’t. And at least three -- Media Kitchen’s Barry Lowenthal, UM’s Sarah Personette and Starcom’s Amanda Richman -- more or less implied it’s part of an inevitable progression. More importantly, I didn’t hear any objections from the other big buyers -- upfront TV buying vets Chris Geraci (OMD) and Helen Giles (Campbell Ewald).
Okay, so I don’t expect anyone to hold their breath on major network TV deals going down through exchanges anytime soon, but the way agencies think about buying audiences vs. buying media is beginning to change the way they buy television. In fact, I can tell you, even if I cannot report publicly on it yet, that some big shops are already beginning to trade TV audiences via exchanges and trading desks. It’s small scale, and mainly via local cable TV systems, but it’s starting to happen, and once we’re past the beta phase and both sides -- sellers, as well as buyers -- realized the value of it, I expect the whole thing to accelerate, much the way it has with online media. As they used ot say in the TV business, stay tuned.
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