Commentary

Time To 'Do More Digital' -- But Rationally, Not Blindly

You read and hear it everywhere in the ad and marketing world: Do more digital. Do more digital. Do more digital.

I’ve been in digital advertising since the early 1990s, so I’m happy that the market has finally gotten the religion. However, we’re seeing a lot of unintended consequences from those calls for digital being followed too blindly, too literally. Too much knee jerking and not enough rationality.

Problems with viewability, fraud and bots have been just a few of the unintended consequences of doing more digital without really understanding what might happen if budgets for “programmatic” were increased tenfold without understanding where the inventory could come from — particularly CPMs that seemed too cheap to believe (and were).

There are some pretty cool ways to “do more digital” that seem very rational, though. Last week, we heard from a number of television networks that they were making significant amounts of their TV inventory available with digital-data targeting.

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NBCU’s Linda Yaccarino promised to hold $1 billion of its inventory for audience and outcome-based buys, measured on deeper, first- and third-party datasets.

Fox, Turner and Viacom reiterated their recent announcement of OpenAP, a common, cross-network taxonomy and process for advertisers to buy audience-based buys in a coordinated way across the combined inventory of all three.

In both of those cases, the networks and the advertisers that buy in are “doing more digital” — but many of those marketers may not get digital “cred” from doing those deals, the same way that they would if they bought some “social, mobile, video-first” inventory. Not a lot of “atta girls” in the exec suite for doing TV smarter.

At the same time that the large TV networks touted their new audience-buying capabilities, a purely digital cousin, Hulu, announced a way to “do more digital” in a very smart and rational way. As Hulu Senior Vice President and Head of Ad Sales Peter Naylor told us during its upfront, Hulu is changing the currency that it sells on.

When it launched nine years ago, Hulu was only viewed on desktops, and ads were sold on a digital, ad server-counted impression basis. Today, desktop viewing is down to just 9%, mobile and tablet is at 16% and living room viewing is now at 75%.

So Naylor announced that Hulu is conforming its measurement to the TV industry. According to Naylor, “Starting this fall, Nielsen’s digital ad ratings (also known as DAR) will count every viewer of every ad on every device for Hulu campaigns. And here’s the headline: MAGNA, Horizon and GroupM have all adopted DAR as a currency.”

 Hulu and Naylor are now giving marketers a way to “do more digital,” but in a rational way that they can compare to their TV investments. No knee-jerk there.

What do you think? Should everyone just “do more digital” for the sake of doing more?

5 comments about "Time To 'Do More Digital' -- But Rationally, Not Blindly".
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  1. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, May 25, 2017 at 6:42 p.m.

    Good question, Dave. As we both know, there's a lot of smoke and mirrors regarding "programmatic buying" and/or so-called "audience buying" refinements that often do not deliver anything like what is promised or are baised in favor of the sellers not the buyers. As with everything else that should really matter, haste makes waste and much greater care and management involvement---like asking the right questions and demanding real answers----is required to really benefit from some of the new approaches that are being touted.

  2. Henry Blaufox from DragonSearch, May 25, 2017 at 7:22 p.m.

    That 75 percent of viewing in the living room Hulu refers to, or at least a large and growing portion of it, is on "connected TV", also called "Smart TV" sets. These are TVs connected, or able to be connected to, the Internet. That ultimately leads to more precise household level audience measurement. In turn, with some analysis, that gets us to the targeting around interests.  This is a work on progress, though. We won't see a new, across the board measurement and ad buying process replace the current ways overnight. Digital technology proceeds in a continuum, and that continuum is ragged, not a straight line.

    It might be difficult for those who've spengt long, successful careers in the post World War II stage of the industry to accept at first glance. But it is happening. Let's remember, William Paley ran  his family cigar maker after World War I. He saw the value of radio, bought a regonal radio broadcaster, and builtb CBS. Because of the ad potential, not the programs alone. This shift is happening again, to digital broadcasting and the data collection that goes with it.

  3. Dave Morgan from Simulmedia replied, May 26, 2017 at 6:42 a.m.

    I totally agree Henry. This will have a big impact - in a good way - on living room video measurements.

  4. Ron Stitt from Digitec Global Advisors, May 25, 2017 at 8:17 p.m.

    I like the direction although it does feel odd to be adopting KPIs that are basically intended to guide mass (reach/frequency) media.

  5. Dave Morgan from Simulmedia replied, May 26, 2017 at 6:43 a.m.

    Good point Ron, though since so much is already bought that way, Hulu's adoption here gives them comparabilty to advertisers linear TV buys. I don't think that it means that they won't release other data as appropriate.

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