Commentary

Viacom's Zilberbrand Talks PTV, Audience Segmentation And Data

At OMMA’s Programmatic Conference on Tuesday, Julian Zilberbrand, Viacom’s EVP of audience science and a veteran of agencies ZenithOptimedia and Starcom MediaVest, told the audience that programmatic TV (PTV) is a long way off.

Zilberbrand, who manages a Viacom unit that handles audience onboarding and segmentation, advanced analytics and data activation, said that the buzz for PTV  “is a nice fantasy but it doesn’t truly exist in the way people want it to exist.” He explained that there’s a data-driven vs. programmatic concept. Programmatic is the ability to use technology to allow for operational efficiencies. An audience-based approach is a proxy for reaching a consumer. “PTV doesn’t understand how the broadcast marketplace functions.”

So what is the biggest challenge for implementing PTV? Zilberbrand explained that the infrastructure of traditional broadcast delivery isn’t set up for the dynamic insertion of ads. For example, he said, “I see an audience, I deliver them an ad in real time that is relevant to them. The world of broadcast today isn’t structured for that.” As connected TV and over-the-top TV grows, an environment for PTV will become more realistic, he maintained.

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What steps need to be taken to inch closer to PTV?

“Technology on the backend needs to be enabled, consumption patterns need to be monitored, and digital content delivery needs to be streamlined.” And, he says, “a broadcast signal is not a digital signal,” Zilberbrand explained. “The digital-delivered signal needs to be similar to a dynamic insertion of an ad unit.”

Viacom buys programmatic media on the open market and from private marketplaces; the company sells only through private marketplaces. Zilberbrand is focused on building audiences by using Viacom’s first-party data, and many advertisers now want to bring their own first-party data. The goal is to build audience and segmentations that feed into consumer marketing and help support sales-driven initiatives.

As for cross-device targeting and viewability, Zilberbrand said companies like comScore and Nielsen will need to build and improve the ability for their tools to measure across devices “effectively." These companies are either just now building or will release cross-device tools to measure programmatic video content within the next year.

Once these tools are built and in the market, they need time to mature, Zilberbrand said, which means the methodology needs to come into check with accreditation through the Media Ratings Council (MRC), for example. All the networks will need to go through this process individually, but standards will need to be created and accredited.

"Those standards are still being talked about and structured," he said. "It's complicated because of the numerous ways content gets consumed."

2 comments about "Viacom's Zilberbrand Talks PTV, Audience Segmentation And Data".
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  1. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, May 18, 2016 at 10:01 a.m.

    Good piece, Tobi. I hope that some of the "TV has embraced programmatic" dreamers read this article.

  2. Tom Cunniff from Tom Cunniff, May 18, 2016 at 12:40 p.m.

    While it's undeniably true that "the infrastructure of traditional broadcast delivery isn’t set up for the dynamic insertion of ads", it's akin to arguing that it would be too difficult to retrofit a horse and buggy for a jet engine.

    Vewers want the content they want and don't much care how it's delivered, or on which screen.


    Advertisers want to use the data they want, and will follow consumers.

    I predict the legacy TV business will drag its heels for as long as possible in an attempt to forestall the inevitable. Consumers will move on, and programmatic TV will become a reality.

    We can debate whether this will be a good or bad thing and my guess is that it will be both.

    But the way the incentives and disincentives are aligned, I find it hard to see how the future will unfold in any other way.

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