The Human Side Of The Shift to Programmatic T/V (Television/Video)

“It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it.” -- author Upton Sinclair

This quote, as single-gender as it was in the early 20th century, captures one of the most powerful barriers to change: the human desire for stability and predictability in our life and careers. When forces like automation and competitive innovation threaten the value of all the knowledge and expertise any one of us have built up over time, it’s not unreasonable to feel a threat to our livelihoods.

Technological change and competitive pressures have driven change at an ever-increasing rate over our lifetimes. Is the world then actually passing us by? Will we no longer reach our financial and career goals, as others more experienced and trained in the newer innovations take our place?

Programmatic technology and targeting are certainly making the digital video side of the business, with its benefits of targeting and accountability, more attractive to advertisers. Traditional television budgets are already starting to shift to online video. In response, programmatic technologies are now coming to the traditional providers of linear television.

And yet the existing business models that continue to make television and video so profitable still need to be attended to. Should we hang on to the bitter end until the existing business models collapse, or jump into a new career track and start over, probably at a lower salary?

And where will we find the time, focus and energy to just stay current, let alone gain the kind of expertise we will need to excel in the next wave of programmatic and targetable T/V?

For those who work in traditional television or digital, in sales or media planning and buying, in advertiser marketing management or in legacy media or distribution companies, I recommend the following:

1.     We are what we think we are. Find ways to banish the self-protective thinking that prepares us to struggle with and/or avoid the changes, rationalizing reasons why what we have to bring to the party will be irrelevant. Any change will require transition from the old business model to the new, and those that can bridge that transition will be more valuable than those who only understand the new or stay immersed in the old.

2.     Love learning. Every industry association has training sessions and committees addressing the issues that new technology brings. There are neutral outside teaching individuals and groups as well. Business schools offer professional development, online if not in person. Google them and ask around. Pick an area of growth that stirs your passion. Suspend that inner judge that tells you what you cannot do. Just imagine what you’d really love to be doing three to five years from now if everything you hope for comes true. Focus your learning efforts on that vision, and allow that learning to fulfill you.

3.     Make reading time a part of your job. The many B2B online publishers that track the older and newer industry sectors are pumping out pieces revealing daily incremental change. This is more important than that extra administrative meeting on the schedule, so put first things first.

4.     Go to conferences and meet the change-makers. Industry associations and B2B media publishers hold frequent conferences on horizontal and vertical topics of change in ad-supported media. Both presenters and attendees are just like you: trying to gauge the next right move to benefit from the many new ways of doing things. Get to know them and be part of it all!

5.     Write an article. Trade publications often invite industry voices to share their ideas and opinions through articles distributed across the industry. Getting your voice out there lets others know your interest and commitment to the business, with the fringe benefit of the hyperlink you can share with current and future employers and customers. You don’t need a Ph.D. to write an interesting thought piece.

More than anything, successful businesspeople are change-surfers, catching a wave of change. We’re all uncomfortable beginning something we haven’t yet mastered, yet success is measured by the risk inherent in doing just that. And don’t forget to enjoy the pure pleasure of learning along the way.

2 comments about "The Human Side Of The Shift to Programmatic T/V (Television/Video)".
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  1. Doug Garnett from Protonik, LLC, October 17, 2014 at 4:30 p.m.

    John - Thoroughly agree with the importance of staying open - all businesses including programmatic companies must do so or die. At the same time, there's a critical role with programmatic buying for the skeptic. Having ad some significant experience with programmatic on TV, I don't think it's going to deliver what is being promised for it. Even worse, the theory of targeting that drives it has huge flaws. For example, it makes no sense to describe your consumers in the ways that programmatic offers. So how accurate is that targeting? Someone I know has observed that the risk with programmatic is that "it finally gives companies the ability to target so highly that they'll kill their brands more quickly".

  2. John Grono from GAP Research, October 20, 2014 at 7:08 p.m.

    Doug, I agree with you and that someone you know. Try and get a copy of Prof. Byron Sharp's "How Brands Grow". You will see empirical evidence supporting that stance.

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