TV Programmatic: A Horizontical Transmutation

I remember that when I started in the media business, around the mid-‘70s, the community's attention was focused on reach. Mass reach. Broad reach. Television. The cult of the horizontal. Three broadcast networks. Some black-and-white syndication. TV upfronts concluded no later than late May's, Memorial Day. In the early to mid-‘80s, emulation expanded beyond the limits of its reflection, as cable co-opted the vertically magazined approach and injected it with horizontal modifications. ESPN, MTV, CNN, Nickelodeon and Discovery sought and won their niche psychographic and demos.
At the turn of the 21st Century, as the televisual universe expanded and video became much more prevalently experienced across all static and mobile TV platforms (traditional TV, broadband, mobile), we entered the horizontical epoch. Snuck up on me, too. I first witnessed this phenomenon when salespeople – particularly start-ups – presented their pitch in what first appeared to me as contradictory parallels. From their vantage point, one could utilize their value proposition in an either/or basis. I think I need some illustrations:



Social Video Networks
Social video networks, such as NextNewNetworks – acquired by YouTube in 2011 – and For Your Imagination, built their video brands by discovering meaningful social networking communities and generating video programming that was attractive to that audience. Oftentimes, they will discover their program hosts, champions and content within that community. Once they have established a foundation within the communal vertical, they forge ahead to generate another vertical of loyal socialists that have similar characteristics (age, wealth, education, hobbies) but are drawn to different subject matter. In their sponsorship proposition to the marketer, they stress the value of their vertical i.e., males that watch boxing, as well as the value of their horizontal i.e., males that watch boxing programs, males that watch basketball programs, males that watch baseball programs, and package it all together: niche and broader reach unique audience synthesized into one package.

Addressable Media Companies
By mid-2005, addressable media companies Navic, which was acquired by Microsoft in 2008 and subsequently laid to rest, and Invidi evolved internal corporate value propositions that travel down opposite roads simultaneously -- though only at first glimpse. When I first started utilizing Navic's interactive TV applications, it was to send the appropriate message (banner overlay on video commercial) to Zip codes as well as to individual households in a select group of markets. I was able to match the technology with Acxiom's segmentation analytics and provide what I hoped was the most relevant messaging to a particular household. The vertical approach worked for me. Navic introduced its Admira ad auctioning product, which drilled down into the individual set-top-box program usage and was able to sell, through auction, specific programs delivering video commercials to specific set-top boxes within a cable zone (a gaggle of Zip codes) as well as aggregate those STBs with similar program-viewing characteristics to create a broad reach of a narrow demographic i.e., the horizontal.

Invidi, whose investors include Google, NBC, GroupM, and who is now the predominant video addressable technology utilized by the majority of MVPDs (Dish, DirecTV, Verizon, Comcast, Cox), had a similar but different approach. Its technology delivers specific video commercials to households with specified characteristics. These characteristics can be determined by partnerships with dataminers, marketer's loyalty databases or their fuzzy mathematics. In fact, Invidi has said on occasion that it doesn't matter what program is being viewed, they know the broad psychographics of those watching and have the ability to deliver the appropriate video commercial. That's the vertical. However, in the same breath, they continue to hint at a model in which they partner with a pay TV operator (cable, satellite, telco) to sell commercial time in an accumulation of audience ratings to rival local TV stations. As an example, in a given market the broadcast TV station delivers on average a 5 rating during a particular daypart, whereas the average cable operator delivers a .5 rating per network for the same daypart. The Invidi horizontal solution: Aggregate enough local cable inventory to equal a 5 rating, offer competitive pricing and increase the local cable operator's market share.

OTX & Its LMX Study
OTX was a leading independent global consumer research and consulting firm that was acquired by Ipsos in 2010. One of its publications, “The Longitudinal Media Experience Study” (LMX), first pointed out to me that the 24-hour day is now 33 hours, we still sleep a consistent eight hours a day, and the additional nine-hour expansion of our day is the result of multitasking mostly within and accompanied by media consumption. OTX developed this tome to provide understanding into the evolving U.S. consumer's multimedia experience from a behavioral and attitudinal perspective. In other words, provide insight on the media dynamics across the life cycle and the implications for content choices and device adoption moving forward.

Although I remember as a kid doing my homework and watching TV or my next door neighbor, Uncle Bill, the policeman, watching baseball games with the volume off and the radio on, or practicing the piano and simultaneously speaking on the phone (landline) with my girlfriend, multitasking didn't have a dramatic effect on my daily existence and marketers' media plans. The OTX LMX suggests that it does now. Simultaneous media usage through vertical absorption of content as well as horizontal aggregation of impressions for marketing campaigns suggests further immersion in the horizontal and vertical crossroads.

Turner Broadcasting's TVinContext
In 2008, Turner Broadcasting introduced a new advertising system, TVinConext, whose altruistic mission was to match commercials with the content of its programming. Theoretically, the system is designed to match the ability of digital media to place ads next to relevant content. For example, if a movie features a scene about pregnancy, the next commercial break would feature a related product, such as gift ideas for new moms and newborns; if the program featured a bathroom scene, then the next commercial break would feature a related product, such as a comb for a woman or Rogaine for a bald man. Turner Broadcasting continues to position itself as a broad reach network – a horizontal rival to cable siblings and challenger to the broad reach broadcast networks – as well as offer advertisers the opportunity when appropriate to vertically target pregnant women, and people with and without hair.

TV Programmatic

Since 2013, when TV programmatic platforms and concept sound bites began peppering the trades more regularly, there appears to be many similarities to the aforementioned examples of vertical and horizon integrations for marketers to exploit:

-- Footprints

The majority of TV programmatic platforms allow marketers to purchase TV schedules comprised of broadcast and cable programming – national and local - to reach broad audiences or proffer addressable opportunities for specific verticals via Clypd and Videology. RevShare’s Admore offers broadcast only inventory from TV stations across the country, while AudienceXpress provides a rich trove of national cable inventory for advertisers to vivisect.

-- Data

Inventory can be measured, planned and purchased through traditional Nielsen age, gender and light/medium/heavy viewership or vertically through a combination of first party and third party data from Acxiom, Experian, Epsilon and Rentrak special segmentations.

-- Cross-Media Applications/Implications

From a horizontal view, TV programmatic schedules can be purchased and analyzed – cause and effect – in a standalone fashion, or in combination, with complementary digital verticals media including search, social, display, and video via a value proposition offered by Turn, and I imagine soon by TubeMogul.

 -- Secret Sauce

Platforms like AdapTV, Simulmedia and Collective (TBD) utilize their proprietary algorithms to help marketers purchase traditional linear TV inventory by selecting programming that have the highest concentrations of desired audience to extend the reach of the traditionally negotiated TV schedules. AdapTV acquired PrecisionDemand to enable the platform to ascertain which is the most valuable TV inventory given a marketer’s criteria; Simulmedia is able to analyze a marketer’s current and/or prior campaign to provide unduplicated reach extension; and Collective, when it announces its TV programmatic foray, will most likely incorporate its TVA product that measures the symbiotic relationship between TV program viewership and site visitations.

-- Automation

Automation is the theoretical backbone of the successful TV programmatic implementation. Some argue that it will save time that is valued and translated into GRPs while others are of the allowance for greater individual productivity. Regardless, at this juncture, TV programmatic is still one phone call away.

Welcome to the horizontical.

1 comment about "TV Programmatic: A Horizontical Transmutation".
Check to receive email when comments are posted.
  1. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, August 22, 2014 at 5:01 p.m.

    Very interesting, Mitch. Still, before we get overly excited about the wondrous advances in targeting capabilities that all of these new concepts and methodologies seem to afford advertisers, it should be remembered that media sellers also have to benefit by these refinements. For example, take the case of the primetime program schedule on a hypothetical broadcast TV network. At any given time, the network may be airing 25-30 series. Let's also say that this network is selling its commercial time to advertisers who are selecting only those shows that index above par in targeting their prime marketing prospects. Here is where the difficulty sets in. No matter how each advertiser defines its primary target group, the odds are that shows with fair compliments of 25-54 year old and upscale audiences are going to be the most desirable for a majority of marketers----- except for a relatively small percentage that are after very old or extremely younger viewers. This means that the majority of the buyers will be asking for time in the same shows----perhaps 10 of the network's 30 programs-----while trying to avoid the others. Faced with this situation the network could either triple the commercialization in its 10 high demand programs while running mostly public service spots and promos in the others, or, more realistically, it could triple the CPMs for time in the much demanded shows, thereby making them far less appealing and forcing the buyers to revert to the tried and true selling practice of bundling all of the shows----the good, the bad and the ugly ---- into "packages" which allows the network to sell all of its GRPs. In other words, it's a mistake to assume that the seller is simply a passive bystander who bows to every whim of the advertiser, allowing agency buyers or
    programmatic" computers to cherry pick whatever goodies they like from the seller's portfolio, without paying a much higher price for this privilege. That's not a realistic assumption and, often, the penalty incurred by trying to be overly selective in media buying negates the presumed advantage of superior targeting------especially if almost everybody wants the same thing. I realize that digital media offers more modes of target selection ----mindsets, recent online site visiting patterns, etc. ----- but even so, I would expect the sellers to wake up, once they see where buyer demand is most concentrated, and mimic what my hypothetical TV network would do----raise the cost for whatever is in most demand. Result: checkmate!

Next story loading loading..