Programmatic TV Following Its Own Path

Programmatic television is slowly taking shape -- with nearly everyone involved in data-driven TV ad-trading hammering home how early in the process it is -- but new data suggests the application of programmatic technologies to TV is occurring in an entirely different way than it did in the digital display world.

According to data from programmatic video ad platform TubeMogul, over a quarter (29%) of the programmatic TV ads purchased on their platform during a brief time period this year (March 27 through April 5) were placed in primetime, or 8 PM to 11 PM. Another 25% of the programmatic TV trades TubeMogul facilitated during that time period were placed in the "early fringe" time slot, or 5 PM to 7 PM.

Over one-third of programmatic TV ads were purchased during the daytime (10 a.m. to 4 p.m.), and the remaining 11% were purchased somewhere between 11 p.m. and 9 a.m., per TubeMogul.

This is significant because it shows that the application of programmatic tech to TV is aligning with what's "premium" -- the polar opposite of what happened with RTB and the perceived "race to the bottom" the programmatic industry started with in the digital world.

Just over a week's worth of data is not, of course, enough to prove a trend. It could, however, be showing us where the programmatic TV industry is heading. TubeMogul says it analyzed over 30 million ads for the study, so while the sample size isn't large enough to conclusively prove something, it does carry some weight.

The notion that programmatic TV is getting its legs in a more "premium" environment has other support as well. When ESPN sold its first "Sportscenter" ad via programmatic earlier this year, I mistakenly assumed they aired it in a subpar time slot just to test it out. However, the "Sportscenter" ad ran at 1 AM on a Saturday, and an ESPN representative told Real-Time Daily that this edition of "Sportscenter" was the highest-rated daily edition among men 18-34 in 2014.

Of course, even "premium" has tiers. All of the ads TubeMogul analyzed were bought at the local level. This is in line with the Super Bowl ads TubeMogul helped facilitate earlier his year -- those too were "premium," but at the local level.

Even still, programmatic TV appears to be writing a different first chapter than programmatic display.

1 comment about "Programmatic TV Following Its Own Path".
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  1. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, May 19, 2015 at 4:45 p.m.

    @Tyler, I read these stats quite differently. Assuming that these are "linear TV" transactions, I suspect that they are primarily spot buys on local stations as well as some national ads on certain cable channels--- not broadcast TV network deals. In view of all of the speculation about "programmatic" buying coming to TV, it's important to get as good a definition of who the players might be as is possible. Also, it would clarify matters greatly if the approximate dollar volume involved was cited. If its $235,000 then we're not talking about a lot of activity; if it's $500 million, that's significant.

    Returning to the premium vs non premium point, the rather low percentage for prime time ( 29% ) suggests that we are dealing mainly with non-premium buys---probably at modest CPMs, not the opposite.

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