In what likely is the most significant development yet to bring programmatic media-buying to local broadcast television, Interpublic’s Mediabrands unit today will unveil a new platform that will enable its agencies and clients to plan, buy, post and retarget local TV viewers with nearly the same precision as the most advanced digital media platforms. The core of the system is a deal with WideOrbit, a technology company that enables local broadcasters to traffic their TV advertising buys with advertisers and agencies, which will enable Interpublic to begin trading linear local TV ad inventory based on customized geographic areas ranging from specific local market footprints to total U.S. coverage.
While Magna won’t yet be able to plan, buy, post, and retarget at the individual viewer level -- the way it does with digital online, social and mobile media -- it will integrate WideOrbit’s trafficking systems with Magna’s proprietary AMP audience targeting platform as well as a new Nielsen service, “Local Buyer Reach,” which will enable its clients to approximate audience targeting in real-time, or near real-time. It will also enable them to “retarget” TV viewers the way they do with digital advertising, repeating or airing new ads to viewers based on what they were exposed to previously, and what consumer segments they fall into.
“We’re moving to audience impressions-based buying instead of ratings. There will be less emphasis on ratings and dayparts and more on the audience we are reaching,” explains Janice Finkel-Greene, executive vice president-buying analytics at Magna.
Finkel-Greene, a long-time veteran of local broadcast media-buying, says the platform delivers what advertisers, agencies and local stations have been trying to achieve for decades, a direct electronic interchange enabling advertisers to see exactly what local broadcasters delivered in real-time, or as close as current technology can enable it.
“This is the feedback loop we’ve always dreamed of. We’re going to get reports in real-time or near real-time, which will give us greater transparency. It’s a big deal.”
While not yet true audience-level buying, the platform helps accelerate Mediabrands’ goal of managing 50% of all its media programmatically by 2015. Local broadcast TV represents about 26% of total TV ad spending in the U.S., according to estimates from Pivotal Research Group. More significantly, most of the advances in programmatic TV advertising buying have either been national, or at the local cable TV inventory level, including initiatives like Simulmedia (national) and AudienceExpress (local).
WideOrbit’s systems traffic advertising buys across station groups reaching about 70% of local broadcast inventory, and one of the biggest of those groups, Tribune Media Co., has agreed to deploy it, while other big station groups including Hearst, Meredith, Raycom, Scripps and Sinclair have agreed to test it.
Finkel-Greene says the stations she’s spoken to like the shift, because it will increase their accountability and give them a chance to participate in a “pay-for-performance model” based on the value of the audiences they deliver brands, as opposed to fighting for shares of Nielsen rating points.From the agencies’ point-of-view, Finkel-Greene says it will enable them to plan, buy, post and retarget TV with nearly the same precision as digital media, shifting ad budgets dynamically based on performance and consumer behavior.