Commentary

Programmatic TV: Marrying Before You Date (A Possible New Standard)?

A New Yorkermagazine visual: a small mound of ashes with proportionally fitted angel wings is facing an attentive male angel. Both are standing upon a cloud. The caption, spoken by the small mound of ashes with proportionally fitted angel wings: “If I had it to do over again I definitely wouldn’t have been cremated.”

Since mid-2015, there have been a plethora of organizations and individuals calling for all media peoples associated with the programmatic TV realm to create standards as befits a proper media vertical: trade groups, advertising agencies, trade desks, prominent aspirational broadband network video providers and errant posers of failed endeavors.  

I’m all for evolving our programmatic TV universe whether scrutiny is focused on any or all of its components. To name a few: deployment, formats, reportage, workflow, metrics, efficacy, software, value propositions… My concern is that we, as well-intentioned conspirators, spend too much time formalizing that which is still in its primordial testing phase. The perspiration that goes into the articulation of perceived value propositions could easily, in my opinion, be re-diverted to actual in-market trials where the participants share with its brethren the directional learnings — and not just back-slapping pronouncements.

First step: Let’s agree to outlaw the phrase “sales channel conflict,” which provides platforms, data-ists and content distributors (broadcasters, cable networks, cable MVPDs, satcasters, telcos, ad supporters of VOD, streamers, TV Everywherers, connected TVers) with an easy “out” when queried about results and/or experiences — even partnerships. Let’s agree to make industry conclaves about learnings and trade knowledge instead of paid political announcements coupled with a heavy does of conventional wisdom – that which the convention is already familiar with.

Often  I hear some sectors of the media community clamoring for the “less-evolved” media to follow the online community’s search and display example of standardization. If memory serves me well, the online community jumped on the notion of standardization after it claimed 10 years of disunity impeded its members from enjoying deserving revenue generation from marketers. It had to contend with two physical issues: speed of delivery (dial-up and high speed as well as traffic control) and ad format sizing for sites. Their model and subsequent success did not involve legacy issues, such as competing organizations selling what is perceived as the same inventory, cultural warfare between conflicting agency personnel, opaque transparency of commercial inventory, engagement prestidigitation, data indexing, and of course, the net/gross/transaction conundrum.

A friend of mine related a story about an early culinary experience circa 1931 between his newly matrimonied mom and dad. Soon after the honeymoon, on Friday night his mother was preparing a chicken dinner – a weekly ritual in some households of certain persuasions. As she set the inaugural dinner plate before her husband, tears gushed down her cheeks. Concerned, his father asked why she was crying. She explained that she had burnt the chicken. Noticing the blackened fowl, he inwardly cringed — but outwardly responded by taking her hands in his and explaining that very-well done chicken was the way he preferred his bird to be roasted. For the next 50 years, the family was served burnt chicken every Friday evening.

So I recommend that we implement the old approach to the tried-and-true standardization process that has worked through the millenniums: a couple of dates, a few dinners, a few home-cooked meals (hopefully not burnt chicken unless desirable), a movie or two, a sleepover if warranted, the survival of a weekend sojourn together, the three-month and six-month anniversary celebrations — and then, and only then, some formalization.

1 comment about "Programmatic TV: Marrying Before You Date (A Possible New Standard)?".
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  1. Drew Corry from Free Agent, January 22, 2016 at 1:02 p.m.

    Mitch, I say we figure out all the ways we might fail first before ...we ...fail.  Nothing worse then fowl fowl. 

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