Programmatic + Immersive TV Experiences

As the ink dries on upfront deals, this is the time of year when we start talking about the ongoing impact of television for advertisers, but I wanted to take a slightly different approach.  Rather than talk about the ongoing marriage of digital video with TV, I wanted to address what a fully integrated digital TV experience is starting to look like, and how that will change over the next three to five years.

More and more, the question arises: Going forward, who owns the “TV” experience? Is it the network who creates the show, the MSO that provides the access (both via cable/satellite and through delayed viewing), the set-top-box manufacturer who owns the hardware and the operating system, or the digital platform that extends the program into the digital eco-system, through streaming and other methods?  I think the answer is “all of the above.”

On numerous occasions, I’ve made the case for programmatic and/or private exchanges being implemented against TV inventory, but I would couple that prediction with the rise in truly immersive experiences that many cable operators already offer,  which will continue to be augmented with digital media. 



I’ve seen some very interesting offers coming from the likes of AT&T U-Verse, among others, that package together online display, local commercial inventory, customized in-guide content and infomercials that reside on stand-alone channels within the on-screen guide.  If you take these experiences and continue to add in social and mobile, you create truly cross-platform, immersive experiences that marketers can use to engage their audiences in a much deeper fashion.  This drives customers conversions at higher double-digit rates vs. the poor conversion rates for standard digital display.  Consumers are self-selecting, with only the most interested starting the process, but that’s OK if the ROI is strong enough.

Digital media enables customization, and these kinds of immersive experiences, when combined with addressable media vehicles, can drive efficiency for marketers.  TV is still the Holy Grail, and money is still being poured into the channel.  A recent study from LUMA Partners calls out the dramatic differences between digital media and TV media spend, with about 100 companies  responsible for $150 billion in TV spend, while the digital media space has around 400 companies generating about $6 billion in spend.  You do the math – if a marketer leaves the train station with $100 million to spend and is traveling 100 mph north, towards which media channel will they arrive fastest?  I know – that makes no sense, but the answer is TV!

TV is important, and it’s going to become more important as it maintains its position as the lynchpin of marketing and advertising for years to come.  Marketers will approach the major players in TV and look for standard commercial inventory, augmented, immersive experiences, programmatic add-ons and digital extensions wherever they can get them.  On the digital side of the business, more companies will be expanding into video and creating collaborations with the traditional media world while still taking advantage of audience-based marketing tools and technology.   These one-stop opportunities will be the core of a great brand strategy, offset with the rest of the ecosystem via technology and data-driven audience buying. 

Consolidation will happen, but not at the rate you might think, because traditional companies may not dive so deeply into digital that they need to acquire all of these companies.  The tech platforms are where the acquisitions will happen, enabling traditional media channels to continue their focus on content and distribution of that content.

Of course, I could be wrong.  I just don’t think that I am.

What do you think?

4 comments about "Programmatic + Immersive TV Experiences".
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  1. Mike Einstein from the Brothers Einstein, July 16, 2014 at 12:32 p.m.

    The TV guys will continue to dominate because they know that the commercial media business model is not (and never has been) one of ad-supported content, but rather one of content-supported advertising -- evidenced by their good sense to cede total control of their identities and signals to paying advertisers one at a time. While the digerati spend their time rationalizing what constitutes viewability, the TV guys are ready with an answer that has them laughing all the way to the bank.

  2. Christopher Sanders from The Ingredients Group, July 16, 2014 at 12:43 p.m.

    You're right that consolidation and unification is well on its way. And in my humble opinion is a trend that will continue. I think the Digital Video + TV Inventory "convergence" is already happening from a cost and analysis POV. More and more senior folks at agencies and clients are not responsible for "National Video" (aka digital video + Linear TV). But, the inventory systems are years from being elegantly merged. "Unified reporting" is not a single programmatic solution and most unification of TV and digital video inventory/reporting are nothing more than report consolidation, which is useful but no where near what you describe above. Despite many articles written to imply the contrary, Programmatic (automating) TV buying and selling seems unattainable in the next 3-5 years. Some aspects of TV Buying/Selling, surely will be, particularly workflow, which is still faxes and phone calls in many cases. But the currently envisioned "AdTech" for TV inventory, the resistance for the loss of control on pricing, and the entrenched interests of MVPDs makes most other aspects seems far, far off. So the idea of real consolidation, where TV and digital inventory are really managed off the same platforms and systems (including device PII, cookies, Buy instructions, trafficking, etc) seems to right up there with the jetpack I was promised as a kid.

  3. Gabriel Cohen from Starcom, July 16, 2014 at 12:49 p.m.

    Great article. Although, in general, we have to stop comparing $1 to $1 of TV and Digital spend. An Digital Programmatic/RTB CPM and a TV CPM are very differently priced. Also, I feel that we generalize too much on TV vs. Digital ad spend by using national numbers. Of course, TV is going to be a higher spend - ads cost more and have more value to big brand, national advertisers. On the local level, if we do our jobs as educators in the media industry and advise on the best option available for reach, frequency, cost effectiveness - digital will blow away TV spend on the local level, because digital gives a much lower entry point.

    Great article. Very engaging and well written!

    I am excited for the future of programmatic TV. I hope it will do 2 things - drive a better cost, in some instances, and/or drive more efficiency and stabilize costs and inventory.

    Multi-screen, integrated marketing plans are the future. Traditional media shops and digital media shops will find themselves out-classed by the agencies that work, study, and hone a strategy, case studies and data to make an integrated media plan.

  4. Pat Dunbar from DiMAS Group, July 20, 2014 at 12:22 p.m.

    Another thoughtful post Cory. I think your call out of AT&T is really on point. Gabriel also adds great insights, and alludes to a very important idea - which is that TV is not monolithic. It is made up of at least 5 different sub categories - national broadcast, national cable, local cable/MVPD, local broadcast and syndication - each with its own buy/sell and reporting program. Adding additional screens is only adding to the complexity.

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