Programmatic TV: The Mandate for Training & Education

Programmatic TV spending is expected to top $10 billion by 2019, up from $69 million in 2014.  Across the country, agencies cite ambitious plans to grow their programmatic TV business.

It’s all pretty impressive — but hold on.  Our industry may not realize these projections unless we also realize the imperative of continual education and training for the people on both sides of the programmatic TV transaction.

What’s driving the push toward programmatic TV is advertisers’ desire to buy video across all screens:  They want to reach viewers on every platform, and they need access to linear TV inventory to do that.  Also, the metrics of digital video are appealing to advertisers, and many would like to see a similar approach in the traditional TV space.

I’m not the first person to write about the need to understand the new language of programmatic TV.   In recent months we’ve seen a plethora of new players in the space – DSPs, SSPs, DMPs, and agency alliances -- and yet, does the growth in actual transactions correlate with the growth of providers ready to service those transactions?  Right now, programmatic accounts for well over half of all digital-video transactions, but programmatic TV remains a single-digit percentage of linear TV transactions, according to various sources.  

I’d submit this very gradual rollout is due not so much to uncertainty regarding the benefits of programmatic technology to linear TV, but to misperceptions and insufficient understanding of how it works.   If buyers and sellers can master the language and mechanics of programmatic TV, they can capture the potential ROI on their investment of time.

We’re still in the early stages of ushering “traditional TV” experts into the digital worlds of automated transactions and actionable metrics, and the digital millennial generation into the engaging medium of linear TV and its unique power to build brands. Many TV media buyers as well as sellers still speak the language of age/gender demographic CPMs and units rather than audience-based, “strategic target” impressions.  While agencies are getting more sophisticated about the evolving metrics, real challenges remain in understanding and managing the aggregation of inventory, automation and true audience-based targeting.

If I were to offer two important elements for programmatic TV buyers, sellers and technology partners to consider as they develop their strategic growth plans, they are:

Train your sales teams before they go out to pitch programmatic TV to agencies.  The currency for programmatic is based more on audiences and impressions and less on programs, spots and gross ratings points.  In fact, the best programmatic platforms succeed by finding audiences and impressions in places that typical media planners haven’t been looking for.

Develop industry best practices and publish FAQs.  Needless to say, treat these as “living” documents, scalable to reflect new release features and data.  Share them with your agencies – help to educate the industry, not just your sales teams.
The rewards for investment in education and training could be transformational.  If your sales teams are well versed, they’ll be able to better demonstrate value to your advertisers.

We know that programmatic TV means more effective and efficient reach for marketers; it helps produce “found money” for cable and broadcast sellers and operators, and has proven to be wildly successful for clients (for an example, see "For Programmatic TV Buying, Small Can Be an Advantage").  Ensuring optimal success will take a concerted effort in industrywide education and training, across party lines.

1 comment about "Programmatic TV: The Mandate for Training & Education".
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  1. Gabe Greenberg from Gabbcon, October 21, 2015 at 5:40 p.m.

    I cannot agree more that the industry must have a common vocabulary, technical standards and great education. This is precisely why we started GABBCON, Global Audience Based Buying Conference.

    We will release our first version of our Programmatic TV glossary, to ensure the industry begins speaking the same langauage with common vocabulary, a critical first step, at our November 3 event. The glossary has had collaboration from leaders across the infdustry (Agencies, Boradcasters, OTT Players, DSP's, SSP's and TV Measurement Companies).

    We invite the industry to participate and hope you will join us at our nearly sold out event on 11/3. Our next body of work will be technical standards for Programmatic TV.

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