Automating Traditional Television Buying Process: Why? Why Now?

In the same week that the ANA named “programmatic” marketing term of the year, a product is being launched that aims to simplify the process of making traditional, linear television ad buys. IPG Mediabrands’ MAGNA GLOBAL agency, the media software company eMediaTrade, and network partners NBCUniversal and Viacom Media Networks are debuting AdCore OneView, “a central cloud-based repository of buying costs and specifications for each transaction,” according to a press release.

Since I have a background on the buying side but now live in the world of programmatic consulting, where programmatic TV promises to simplify the labor intensity of television selling and buying through open exchanges, private exchanges and direct deals, I was curious about the benefits of this new product. And why a traditional TV solution now, when so many tech companies like TubeMogul, SpotXchange,Turnand others are introducing programmatic platforms for television?

I asked Ellen Weinstein, vice president of business development/professional services at eMediaTrade, for a demo of the platform. I also spoke with Janice Finkel Green, executive vice president of buying analytics for Magna, about how her agency intends to get buyers to embrace the new process. She suggested that because buyers basically designed it in tandem with eMediaTrade, it is being received as a “light at the end of the tunnel” of labor-intensive manual TV buying.

My impression is that this new tool brings some definite improvements to the legacy buying process:

1.     Because it sits between buyers and sellers in the cloud, and both the buyer’s RFP and the seller’s proposal are uploaded onto the platform, everything exists in the same location: accessible, organized and easily referenced through user-friendly dashboards for each side.

2.     Buyers can call up proposals on an analytical dashboard where they can evaluate them side by side along with uploaded Nielsen, Rentrak or other first/third party data. Since no re-inputting is needed, inefficiencies and the more error-prone steps in the traditional process are eliminated.

3.     A shared screen function allows the buyer and seller to look at the proposal together and discuss/negotiate through text bubbles on the side of the screen, which are stored for reference.

4.     When the buy is approved, EDIs are sent to the agency, accepted and easily uploaded into the agency’s accounting system.

5.     “As Run” activity is then uploaded daily from the networks, catching discrepancies and keeping real-time modifications to the schedule in one place.

Why it matters now

Two things are clear as content providers, advertisers, agencies and online video tech companies determine how programmatic T/V (Television/Video) will happen in the legacy television space as well as in the digital publishing space.

First, whether for cable, satellite, streaming T/V or independent video ads running instream or outstream on publisher sites, there will always be a market for direct buys. Brands will always be willing to pay more for context, time placements, brand safety and sponsor-style involvement with trusted media sellers.

Second, linear television networks will move slowly and carefully into programmatic buying, and will likely avoid open-exchange RTB-style buying platforms. The initial interest over the next five or more years will be in the multi-named processes that include premium programmatic, private marketplace (PMP), automated guaranteed, unreserved fixed rate, programmatic guaranteed, programmatic direct, programmatic reserved, preferred deals, private access, first right of refusal, invitation-only auction, closed auction, buying with deal tags, etc.

So it makes sense that now is the time for television buyers to learn how to work with two-way dashboards where buying specs are input and matched with appropriate offerings from a menu of specific and transparent media suppliers and programming. This kind of step is necessary for television and video buying to move out of their silos into a unified marketplace for T/V (Television/Video).

So kudos to all of the parties who’ve invested in and contributed to the launch of AdCore OneView . By cutting back buyers’ and sellers’ hours of manual creation, inputting, re-inputting, and dealing with discrepancies, there will be more time for strategy, cleaner executions and the important work of navigating the right pathway to programmatic T/V.

5 comments about "Automating Traditional Television Buying Process: Why? Why Now?".
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  1. Leonard Zachary from T___n__, December 11, 2014 at 11:51 a.m.

    This is a most informative "hands on" read on programmatic.

  2. Joe Fabiano from eMediaTrade, December 11, 2014 at 12:40 p.m.

    Good write-up John. Another reason this matters is that programmatic can't "just happen" in a vacuum. Real buyers, planners and sellers have to exchange real budgets for real products. That can't happen by some mysterious system that will take away all your problems without actually ever having been in the media business. This is about making the business of real TV budgets an efficient, repeatable, online process with many automation helps. Once that happens in a real way, it is possible to then start making those same things happen in a more fully automated way.

  3. Leonard Zachary from T___n__, December 11, 2014 at 3:42 p.m.

    Joe do you have a perspective on future integration of your platform with the newer standards emerging from mobile infrastructure such as LTE such as eMBMS?

  4. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, December 11, 2014 at 3:45 p.m.

    Agreed. A good writeup. Anything that expedites the communication between buyer and seller and avoids errors in accessing and interpreting relevant data---like audience surveys---should be welcome. Instead of promising the moon---like claiming that automated buying will give advertisers "undreamed of efficiencies and targeting capabilities"----which is unlikely, this step by step approach will make it all understandable and credible, rather than an oversold magical whiz bang that scares everybody off. Best of all, humans will control the process-----not the computers.

  5. John Grono from GAP Research, December 11, 2014 at 6:36 p.m.

    If you looked at the list of (real) reasons that 'programmatic trading' is being adopted, I bet that trading efficiency for the buyer and seller would be much further up the list than advertising effectiveness for the client.

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