Most of the foundational elements of advertising today are setting the stage for a digital, addressable, television landscape. At the core are data and cross-device methodologies.
Much of the online landscape is still, rather surprisingly, based on third-party and first-party cookies. Mobile has some capacity for cookies, but is mostly based on device IDs. The TV landscape will be dependent on device IDs since cookies don’t work on set-top boxes, cable boxes, or TVs themselves. The methods for cross-device are applicable in this environment and will be a necessity for identifying and recognizing customers and what stage of the journey they may be in when they’re exposed to an ad in that environment.
Ad serving is also going to be challenged and refined in an addressable TV world. The commercial format is still the basis for advertising on a TV, and local boxes will need to be the launching point for addressable commercials. The local box or platform will need to identify, recognize and determine which commercial to serve up rather than calling from a remote location and serving it up over the Web. I foresee a technology where IDs are anticipated and commercials are served in the background, to be cached locally and called up at viewing. That means the local box can have a slew of commercials at the ready, and they can be delivered faster.
Being able to view the entire digital media landscape in one interconnected campaign is going to be powerful for marketers. Identifying and recognizing the customer and delivering a personalized message across online, mobile, TV and even digital OOH and in-store will create a truly addressable, customizable media experience. This makes attribution and measurement more accurate and provides marketers with the tools to optimize campaigns in a more efficient manner.
When this happens, the question remains: What happens to the upfront?
I think the model of upfront buying will still be important, but at a corporate portfolio level where larger conglomerates are able to purchase media in advance and optimize allocations based on the portfolio of products they represent. From Viacom and Time Warner to Clorox and P&G, this creates a new way to manage media that drives efficiency even further than in the past. When one product is not making good use of the media, another can be slotted in to takes its place and maximize the upfront allocation.
I for one am truly excited about the combined digital landscape, which I predict will be the case in just four short years. Today the numbers I’ve seen are that between 15 million to 17million U.S. households will be digital-TV-enabled by the end of 2016. I assume progress to speed up over the next three years, delivering the kind of experience I, as a marketer, am truly looking forward to.