Bringing Law and Order To Wild West Of Programmatic TV

We are still in the early days of programmatic TV, and by that I mean more automated, machine-driven processes for buying and selling TV inventory, not necessarily real-time bidding (though that may be coming down the pike as well).

Many years of tradition, and an infrastructure that necessitates continual human interactions, have made it difficult to transition to the types of transactions that are second nature for digital. Still, there has been much success on the technology side of things. What’s of more concern to me as a researcher (and admittedly, a bit of a nerd), is the lack of industry standards for aggregating and reporting on audiences.

The vast majority of TV inventory available for more automated forms of trading is local, and sold, directly or indirectly, by MVPDs. Because these ads can be dynamically inserted, it opens up a host of possibilities for targeting consumers and strategically supplementing national TV buys.

The difficulty comes when we want to tally up the audience that was exposed to our ads and determine how this impacted the overall reach of the campaign. We do our best with the resources we have today, but there are some pieces missing that are preventing us from getting the most accurate reads possible. Namely:



-- 1. Detailed counts of the number of insertable homes by MVPD, cable zone, and network.
-- 2. The demographic makeup of TV homes in a given MVPD footprint, to be able to assess the audience that was exposed to our ads.
-- 3. An industry-vetted methodology for tallying the audience using the pieces of information above and any other relevant data.

Other than number three, the information above exists, but is not universally available. In order to establish the type of “bottom-up” process I am describing, we will need to work together as an industry to create some rules and set some best practices.

To that end, we at Magna Global have set up a task force (or posse, to stick to the metaphor) to discuss these issues and drive toward a solution. We hope to solicit industry opinions once all of the challenges have been outlined. Since local seems to be the proving ground for TV’s programmatic future, having a clear understanding of the audiences being transacted upon is critical for building trust.

If nothing else, it would make this nerd very happy.

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