While the television inventory available through programmatic buying has indisputably broadened in the past year, in particular, some pros believe that the industry may be reaching an availability “plateau” at this point.
“From an inventory standpoint, TV is going to be the biggest challenge [to programmatic] at the moment,” said Matt Glaeser, VP, digital integrations & data, Palisades MediaGroup, at this week’s Programmatic Insider Summit in Lake Tahoe, during a panel focused on programmatic buying in television and other traditional media.
The networks don’t have much incentive to release strong inventory, “particularly when there’s a strong upfront, or when there’s a strong scatter market — and this fall’s is really selling well,” Glaeser added. “Why release into [the programmatic] space when you might be able to do better outside of it?”
“A lot of media companies were incentivized to release inventory to programmatic because they weren’t selling it through other methods,” added Eric Perko, director of media services, Muhtayzik-Hoffer. “But I think we’re reaching the cap of that, where they’re probably going to protect a lot of inventory that they’re making a premium off of. So certainly in TV, I think we’re a long way from any of that really premium prime-time inventory being available programmatically.”
Ashley Evenson, director, Ciceron Digital Media Group, pointed out that based on the seven or eight years that it took for programmatic to “really be taken seriously” and take hold in digital media, widespread adoption of programmatic in television and other traditional media could be another five to eight years off.
Looking beyond television, Perko noted that when it comes to trying to leverage programmatic in the out-of-home space, there are both inventory and legal issues. For example, the Los Angeles City Council has severely limited the use of digital in outdoor media, he said.
In the audio arena, Evenson reported that she recently participated in a beta test for programmatic through Spotify, currently the only audio channel that can be bought programmatically through a DSP. While other channels are expected to follow suit with DSPs, she said, scale is also a big issue for audio at this point because of lack of DAS (distributed antenna system) compliance among the players.
In short, summed up Perko, “we could be reaching a place where we’re getting to a plateau of what’s available programmatically.”