TubeMogul this week launched a self-serve software platform for programmatic TV ad buying. The company partnered with major programmatic TV supply-side platforms (SSPs) including WideOrbit, AudienceXpress, clypd and placemedia to launch the platform.
Real-Time Daily spoke with Keith Eadie, CMO of TubeMogul, about the new platform.
Real-Time Daily: Have you been in the programmatic TV space before?
Keith Eadie: We announced partnerships with AudienceXpress and clypd previously, so we’ve been testing it for a while, but this is the first public debut of the self-serve software.
RTD: What does “programmatic TV” mean here?
Eadie: The way we are defining it is pretty simple: automating the transaction using software-based buying. At the moment there is absolutely no RTB (real-time bidding) involved anywhere in the TV world. We’re automating the workflow and trying to bring greater efficiency to that process. We’re also trying to bring audience data to enhance the targeting.
RTD: How do advertisers use data on the new platform?
Eadie: It’s panel data, and one of our data partners we can talk about is Nielsen. There’s a data set that Nielsen has that enables advertisers to choose specific strategic targets -- audience-based targets such as ethnicity, presence of children/pets, etc. -- and then the software can determine what available TV inventory indexes well against that audience.
RTD: So the advertiser starts at the audience level, and then they go to inventory?
There are two levels of targeting. First, there’s what they’ve been using for five decades -- demographic data, age and gender, etc. After advertisers choose their primary demographic, then they do strategic data, which is the audience-profile type targeting [mentioned above]. They are going to get reporting in terms of impressions and CPMs as well as a combination of the two.
RTD: Who are you competing with in this space?
Eadie: It’s hard to say because nobody has been terribly open with what they have. Nobody has shown software.
RTD: Why roll out your platform on a self-serve basis? Is it simple enough to understand that advertisers and agencies won’t need their hands held?
Eadie: I think we will absolutely be doing a lot of joint exploration of what’s possible with this tool. Certainly they will be educating us with how they want to be buying TV, and we will be educating them on how to use the software.
It’s not: “Here’s the software -- best of luck!”
RTD: What kind of broadcasters are your SSP partners plugged into?
Eadie: They position themselves as SSPs for linear TV inventory. They are working with both national cable networks and local broadcast stations to enable those companies to sell a portion of their inventory in an automated fashion.
RTD: How “real-time” is buying via the platform? In other words, how far in advance is the advertiser buying ad space? Months, weeks, days, hours, minutes?
Eadie: We’re working in days right now. It’s not minutes or hours, but we think that timeline will compress as we get scale level of integration with these partners. It’s certainly as fast as advertisers are used to buying TV, if not faster. We haven’t had any complaints with speed to market.
RTD: Is RTB for TV ad inventory possible in the future?
Eadie: It’s difficult to say right now whether RTB will ever be an element in TV advertising. It’s an ecosystem with various groups of different companies, and we want to do whats best for the ecosystem.
This will not work if we try to push a particular approach that is completely misaligned with how the ecosystem is used to working. We are a long way away from an infrastructure that would allow for RTB and real-time delivery of ads.
RTD: How much money is being spent on programmatic TV?
Eadie: We asked this question to the panel [of SSP partners when the platform was launched]. One of the press questions was: “Is this real?”
Universally the panel said: “Yes this is real.” They all said they are running or have run anywhere from hundreds to thousands of programmatic TV campaigns for their advertising clients.
The level of intended commitment various dramatically. Some people are pretty aggressive [with what] they think they will move over from TV.
This [can be confusing] because we’ve all been talking about shifting dollars from TV to digital, and now we are talking about allocating from regular TV to programmatic TV.
RTD: Are the programmatic TV campaigns cheaper?
Eadie: The way we are quantifying this is we are looking at the cost savings that advertisers are gaining against their strategic targets. It’s essentially a representation of is this software more efficiently determining the inventory that best matches up with the audiences that the advertiser wants to reach. We’ve seen about 30% cost savings against the particular strategic targets.
RTD: So the advertiser is spending the same amount of money to buy the actual TV ads, but from what you’ve seen, they are up to 30% more efficient with that money in terms of targeting intended audiences?
Eadie: Yes. They are spending the same amount of money but getting better results in terms of reaching their target audiences more frequently.
RTD: Is the software suggesting that advertisers buy inventory on channels they likely wouldn’t have considered in the past? Or are most of the results intuitive?
Eadie: Most of the results are pretty intuitive, but what’s important is those results are available within five seconds of setting up targeting parameters. It rapidly determines the best inventory combinations.
As we get deeper, we may uncover results that are maybe not intuitive but are very cost efficient.
RTD: Are there any cross-screen capabilities built-in that allow advertisers to reach the same audience across digital and TV -- and verify it?
Eadie: Not today, but thats exactly where we are headed in the next year.
[Running cross-screen campaigns] from the platform is possible, but right now we don’t have the cross-screen audience verification between TV and digital formats. You can imagine that’s exactly where we are going.