Lack of data standardization is a substantially bigger hurdle to programmatic TV’s speed of adoption than incompatibilities with the traditional TV selling/buying process.
That was one takeaway from agency, network and platform provider pros on a panel during the latest BIA/Kelsey webinar updating developments in PTV. The panel was moderated by Mitch Oscar, director of programmatic strategy, U.S. International Media.
PTV Should Complement Traditional Buys
Asked how compatible programmatic is with the existing television sales and buying process, the executives concurred that, given the shared end goal of enabling advertisers to reach their target audiences most efficiently, the two are — or should be — highly complementary.
While meshing traditional and PTV “definitely creates operational challenges,” the beauty of programmatic is the enriched audience data, and “we should use that data to make
purchases on behalf of our clients, whether we’re doing that buying in an [automated] fashion or in a traditional or direct fashion,” said Michele Toller, VP offline investment and
activation at the Empower MediaMarketing agency.
“The way we think about it, programmatic from a linear standpoint would be buys associated with spots and dots; it’s not something we’re looking to create a big program or big marketing element around,” she said. “Those types of media buys would be purchased programmatically. If we’re looking to do more than that, that’s when we would do more direct buying. But the data should be leading in both areas.”
“In the traditional selling or negotiating approach, the buyer and seller are working to identify a specific context or program opportunities on a local market basis that they believe match the marketer’s criteria,” noted Nick Garramone, SVP e-business operations and research, NCC Media. He agreed that direct negotiation between buyer and seller is needed for program buys, such as sports sponsorship packages that incorporate content. In other scenarios, he said, programmatic may allow the seller to offer inventory “without all of the associated labor,” and allow the buyer to acquire that same inventory to deliver impressions targeted from an audience-data and geographic perspective. “So yes, I think they complement each other very well at this stage — although where they go in the future, I’m not 100% sure.”
“We’re starting to train our sales team such that they can use the insights [from audience data] to have smarter conversations with the clients and agencies around what content, programming, or daypart they should be looking at,” reported Larry Allen, VP, ad innovation and programmatic solutions for Turner. “And in a lot of cases, that’s opening their eyes to programs or networks that they traditionally wouldn’t have considered for their product or service, because we’re shining a light on where their core audiences or potential buyers are actually viewing content.”
“Agencies and media owners are both witnessing incredible fragmentation of viewership,” said Brendan Condon, president of AdMore. “With more and more networks and content available, they can’t keep track of it all. But they know that there are valuable audiences there. So they’re looking for automated solutions to get access to that inventory” and achieve scale — which makes those solutions “absolutely compatible” with traditional television buys, he said.
When programmatic can be used to automate some of the implementation of the buy, the parties involved can have more strategic conversations about the marketer’s objectives, and “how we can go above and beyond traditional placement of [television], to evaluate [its] attribution and success in comparison to other media like digital, outdoor, radio,” he added.
The industry has been trying to align online video with television’s GRP measurement, and is now trying to apply “digital sensibilities” to define television so, “in theory,” programmatic and traditional television buying should be compatible, observed Jes Santoro, SVP, programmatic and advanced TV sales, TubeMogul.
However, he said, by and large, traditional television buyers still lack sufficient understanding of how to apply programmatic methods, and digital buyers lack understanding of the nuances of the television marketplace. That poses an obstacle to realizing “the real value” of PTV, which is “the ability to start looking at unique data sets and gauging and comparing their effectiveness across multiple screens,” he said.
Data Standardization Hurdles
Asked what most needs to be tackled to unlock the full value of programmatic television, Empower’s Toller homed in on the difficulties of trying to execute programs using varying data sets.
She pointed out that, presented with the same criteria for a buy, two different platform providers are likely to use “completely different sets of data” as overlays. While having a variety of data is good in some respects, it’s difficult to cobble the data sets together to present a “cohesive story” to the client, she emphasized.
“There are so many different data providers, and they’re all interpreting viewership differently and using different definitions for everything from age and sex demographics to behavioral patterns or intent to buy,” said Condon. “The industry needs standards defining audiences and what the data represent.”
Garramone noted that while he’s not certain that “perfect” industrywide standardization can be achieved, given “the democracy of data,” he agrees that platforms and data providers need to work with agencies to improve data alignment, in order to be able to fit into the plans created by agency pros.
Allen said that Turner believes that clients should be able to use their data across media outlets, and has built its own platform to include a capability that can predict viewership “across the entire TV landscape” — although additional discussions are required for buyers to be able to buy “at the same level of detail” that they can buy within Turner’s own networks.
TubeMogul’s Santoro stressed the need for better standardization of reporting and inventory.
“We’re getting dangerously close to a walled-garden approach in television” — the same model that’s become so frustrating for brand marketers because of the domination of Facebook and Google, he said. “We’ve already seen this in the addressable television space, where it’s very difficult, and it takes a unique and sophisticated skill to launch a campaign effectively because of all of the work required due to the different nuances across providers.
“If we really want to start taking a data-driven approach at scale, and allow marketers to learn at scale how different data sets affect their businesses, we need to have more consistency in inventory access and the ability to consolidate the reporting,” Santoro said.
What About Media Owners’ Pricing Concerns?
Asked about television inventory owners’ concerns that programmatic could result in commoditizing programming value and depressing CPMs, Allen said that clients’ ability to evaluate where specific audiences are concentrated across the networks in its platform has helped Turner spread inventory demand out across its portfolio. Further, he said, “just identifying the high-value audiences does create a lift in pricing.”
Condon acknowledged that some of AdMore’s broadcaster clients have concerns that real-time bidding could be a “race to the bottom,” pricing-wise, and that prices will go down in situations where a media owner has artificially inflated its pricing.
However, he argued that where owners’ rates are in line with market rates, programmatic “can not only create price increases because of the greater demand, but also [enable them to] realize incremental reach and frequency where [they] wouldn’t otherwise get campaigns.
“There’s an opportunity for every broadcaster, local and national, to participate and set their pricing so that they don’t have to worry about what I call that ‘misperceived notion’ of something being commoditized,” he maintained.