What Will TV Advertising Look Like In 10 Years?

It’s 2028 and no one remembers the uproar surrounding Cambridge Analytica (CA) and Facebook anymore.  The latter’s market cap returned to its prior level after a short time. A lot of people made enormous sums of money back in 2018 buying Facebook stock when the perceived data breach caused the price to drop.  Both Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg have a lot more gray hair today than they did ten years ago.

The ICO’s forensic data investigation eventually cleared both Facebook’s and CA’s reputations.  Unfortunately, the cost from all of the law suits and the irreparable damage to its brand were too much for the small data analytics company and it had to shut down.  Sometime later, the pink-haired whistleblower was found out to be what he was: a disgruntled former contractor with no real knowledge of CA’s current operations. He was simply making things up to draw attention to himself.

The use of psychographics for TV ad targeting is now old school; everyone eventually realized that it is simply a better way to advertise.  There isn’t anything sinister about it. People like that the commercials they receive more often include messages and products that interest them.  Advertisers like that they’re able to get more bang for their buck.



Social media users can now decide for him or her self whether or not they want to allow their data to be used for advertising.  Most people choose to allow it so they don’t have to pay to use the various social media sites.

The government now regulates online news and old journalistic values have returned.  People are receiving more balanced news reporting and as a result beliefs aren’t so polarized.  It’s once again possible for two individuals with opposing views to discuss their differences in a collegial way without the conversation denigrating to personal insults and hatred.

Without CA’s data and ad targeting expertise, Trump struggled in the 2020 presidential race and ultimately lost to Oprah.  She’s in the last year of her second term. His new TV network and media empire have been extremely successful. “The Apprentice” is back on the air and it’s the highest-rated series on TV.  

These days roughly thirty-five percent of U.S. TV homes are getting their pay-TV over the top via the Internet from virtual multichannel programming distributors (vMVPDs).  More homes would have switched; however, the traditional pay-TV providers (cable systems, satellite TV companies and telcos) make a lot of money from the equipment they rent out and took steps to keep subscribers on their existing platforms.  All the TV set-top boxes and equipment in subscriber homes provide a deterrent for people to unsubscribe: it’s a nuisance to unhook everything and install new equipment.

Not willing to sit back and watch their subscriber bases erode, the traditional pay-TV companies began to roll out skinny bundles of their own to compete with the newer Internet-delivered virtual pay-TV bundles.  At the same time, they started to improve their services and began to offer TiVo-like functionality that brings all the disparate types of TV distribution into one easy-to-use interface. This gives their subscribers the ability to find the shows they want regardless of where they air – on broadcast TV, satellite, cable or over the top

The virtual pay-TV providers couldn’t afford to lose money year after year offering skinny bundles for less than they cost.  They eventually had to raise their rates, which made them less competitive with traditional pay-TV companies’ services. Today, the difference in price between traditional pay-TV and virtual pay-TV subscriptions are negligible.

There are many TV-network-specific apps available now.  Many of these are offered in ad-supported and non-ad-supported versions.  The vast majority of people opt for the former. At the end of the day, someone has to pay for the TV content and most people would rather watch ads then shell out cash to subscribe.

Amazon Video finally allowed advertising on its service.  As a result of this and all the new ad-supported versions of TV-network-specific apps, the issue of ad-supported TV impressions moving to commercial-free over-the-top TV is no longer a concern for advertisers.  The supply of ad-supported TV impressions is better than ever.

TV advertising is still complicated; however, the complexity is largely handled by fully automated programmatic TV platforms.  TV buying now looks a lot like digital buying did 10 years ago. It’s executed via an amalgamation of platforms: demand side (DSPs) as well as supply side (SSPs).  There are multiple TV-related data management platforms (DMPs) connected to TV DSPs and SSPs with every kind of data imaginable. WideOrbit was finally able to win out as the ad exchange of record and most programmatic TV ad inventory feeds into it.  Advertisers and agencies are happy because they’re able to score across lots of ad inventory rather than in silos. Real-time bidding for TV is only just beginning to catch on for addressable TV buys.

The government finally mandated the rollout of the new ATSC 3.0 broadcast standard several years ago.  The move dramatically increased the number of addressable TV homes reached as well as the amount of addressable TV ad inventory available for sale.  Addressable TV now reaches the entire country and more than half of TV ad time is sold as addressable.

The reporting dashboards for TV are fantastic now.  Buyers are able to see conversion rates practically in real time and it no longer takes weeks to shift dollars around.  They’re able to move money to the best performing audience segments and TV ad inventory within hours like they’ve been able to do for digital campaigns for years.

TV costs per thousand are on par with digital and media buyers no longer view TV and digital as an either-or decision.  Cross-platform viewing metrics have been in place for years and combined TV and digital optimization is standard operating procedure.  The name of the game today is to have the right proportions of each media type. Most of the TV companies also own digital properties and vice a versa.  It’s now all one big happy media and entertainment business instead of FANG (Facebook, Amazon, Netflix & Google) versus TV like it was back in the day a long time ago.

Ed DeNicola is former Head Of TV for Cambridge Analytica.
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