Video Ad Buying Should Be Customer-First, Not Channel-First

  • by , Featured Contributor, March 17, 2022
The following was previously published in an earlier edition of Media Insider.

The purpose of advertising is to create customers, either immediately or in the future. And how, where and when advertising is bought matters a lot to whether or not it will be effective at doing its job.

Both when media professionals follow processes or software-buying platforms are programmed, the focus and order in how they plan, buy and optimize ad campaigns is what makes them special and better at it -- or not.

Thus, every day in the trades, we hear media firms and software platforms differentiating themselves by what they or their systems buy, optimize or solve for first. What they do “first” becomes their calling card. It might be “digital-first,” “mobile-first” or “content-first” -- or, increasingly in the world of premium video advertising, “linear-first” or “CTV-first.”

I understand the desire to take this strategy, but isn't the first rule of media execution to be “customer-first”?



There was a time when each media channel was so siloed, specialized, and individually impenetrable that optimizing media, channel by channel, in a one-after-the-other manner, was the bread and butter of being a media professional.

That’s no longer the case. Now, the significant majority of ad-supported video consumption is either entirely digital, and thus fully addressable, or is materially digital and can be targeted in highly granular ways -- as national linear TV is today, finally -- and thus is proto-addressable, to borrow a phrase from Forrester Research.

In this world, no advertisers with any kind of breadth and scale in their consumer offering, should be channel-first when they can build video campaigns across TV, streaming and embedded digital video. There’s no longer a need to only buy linear, or only streaming, or only digital video, and not buy across all in an integrated, automated and optimized fashion.

Now, modern marketers can focus on the critical features that they need from premium video ads first and foremost: reach, brand impact and sales response. And they can get those with certainty, efficiency and speed (CES).

Getting this “CES” from cross-channel video campaigns is becoming the new table stakes in video ad campaigns, as digital-born marketers and media professionals ascend in our industry and increasingly drive budgets in an omnichannel way, focused first on reaching and impacting target customers -- and only secondarily on each channel.

What do you think? Are we finally ready to truly embrace customer-centric media execution?

2 comments about "Video Ad Buying Should Be Customer-First, Not Channel-First".
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  1. Gabriel Greenberg from Octillion, March 17, 2022 at 5:31 p.m.

    Hey Dave, great article. In my experience with buying, we find it is necessary to have a hybrid of channel and customer for optimal sales and web attribution. This is needed both for optimization and for transparency.
    For example, if we take solely a customer first approach and decide to not buy certain apps/pubs because a platform does not have access to them, we do see markedly lower performance from that same audience when executed with all pubs. 
    So, for example if you were to eliminate key pubs like say Peacock, Hulu or Pluto (just examples - not necessarily best performers), we see dramatically lower performance then a straight audience first approach, unless that approach is executed against ALL inventory.
    My experience is that platforms or sellers pushing a pure customer first approach are doing so because they do not have access to certain apps/pubs and need to weave a marketing story to get out of the pub discussion.

  2. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, March 17, 2022 at 5:54 p.m.

    Dave, in those cases where a brand is buying its own media and, as a result, it can tailor its targeting, reach/frequeny, content compatability, etc. requirements to suit its needs, most go after "audience" ---or "customers" first and use whatever channels or platforms ---or combos thereof to accomplish their goals. This is not as likely to be the case with big, multi-brand, corporate buys---"linear TV" or otherwise---where targeting, reach/frequency, etc. are not really considered and many buyers---in conjunction with their clients---decide how to deal with individual  sellers in order to maximize their dollar clout and focus on low CPM audience tonnage. Afterwards, the corporate buys are divvied up among the brands and  there is an attempt to consider their specific needs---where feasible. So  here---and especially in upfront deals, its most often a channel first mentality with a plan developed for each channel.

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