For most of the next decade in the U.S., TV viewing -- and TV advertising -- will be a mix of linear and streaming. For brands, agencies and their media professionals desiring to use high engagement, high impact video advertising to reach, persuade and convert target customers at scale, the next decade will mean navigating a mix of linear and streaming TV channels and platforms to have any hope of efficiently reaching audiences at scale.
This fact is not news to any reader of this column. For years, we have been talking about what a cross-platform linear and streaming TV world means in terms of planning, buying platforms and measurement, and work in those areas will be non-spot for years.
However, none of that work will matter if the folks who work in our industry aren’t able to fluently and seamlessly navigate both the linear and streaming sides of the business. We desperately need cross-training so cross-platform TV and streaming advertising can work.
As Dish Media senior vice president Kevin Arrix told the TV of Tomorrow conference in San Francisco yesterday, our industry will be held back if our ad buyers and sellers aren’t fluent in both the language of TV (gross rating points, households and demographics) and the digital language of CTV (uniques, impressions and first-party-data targets).
Everyone who wants to work in cross-platform needs both, because we are not going to see the discrete methods of TV delivery go away anytime soon, nor are we going to see siloed budgets and buying teams suddenly become integrated and holistic (no matter what they say and aspire to).
CTV ads will be sold into linear TV budgets. Automated, data-driven linear ads will be sold into digital video budgets. And mixed, cross-platform programs will be sold into both.
It will no longer be enough to have someone on your teams who can translate between the two languages, effectively serving as your cross-platform interpreters.
No, everyone on our teams will have to understand the languages, strengths, weaknesses and key differentiators of both.
If you think that linear TV will die before you have to understand what a GRP and P2+ target is, you are sadly mistaken. Both will matter for many years to come. Those who can travel seamlessly between the languages and channels will do very well. Those who can’t, won’t. Which will you be?
True Dave, though what we see over and over again are digital and "linear" TV specialists operating independently of eachother and brands treating both as separate options with arbitrarily assigned budgets for each and often different people involved---brand managers vs sales promotion folks.
Also, The bulk of the metrics and buying mechanisims that have been developed for digital are based on direct response/search thinking---which is not surprising as these---mainly search---account for the lion's share of digital ad dollars. But the vast majority of "liner TV" and, increasingly CTV/AVOD ad dollars come from branding advertisers who are interested in gaining exposure for their commercials as part of extended awareness building and sales motivating campaigns, rather than evaluating each exposure in terms of immediate clickthroughs or conversions. As a result many of the digital media concepts and buying approaches don't fit the branding advertisers' needs. Yet the pressure is on, constantly, to make branding advertisers operate like direct marketers, which, of course, means that they should plan and buy media the digital way. In my opinion, that's a mistake as it drives many branding people away from learning what can be taken from the digital media experience. In short digital sellers need to modify their modus operandi to be more relevant to branding needs---just as "linear" sellers need to adopt----or emulate-----digital targeting and frequency capping ideas.
Ed, you hit a very point. So many of both the sales and buying teams are orgainzed by tactic - brand versus performance, with linear folks being brand-focused and digital being focused on performance - rather than holistically cross-channel first, and then by tactic. Hopefully, that will change.
The question, Dave, is who is going to lead the charge? Certainly not advertisers as their CMOs are not interested in getting involved in media buying details and they won't even support viewer attentiveness measurements for TV ratings with funding---even though such information could give them invaluable insights about how their ad campaigns are functionning in garnering ad exposure.
As for the agencies, they are under constant pressure by client bean counters to hold down their handling fees as much as possible. Will they invest significant amounts of their profits to "re-train" their "linear" and "digital" groups so they understand both disciplines thoroughly? Moreover, will the people involved ---"linear TV" planners and time buyers want to learn all about digital DSPs, programmatic buying, etc. and will the digital folks want to learn about how national TV time is bought---and sold, and all of the machinations that goes with such activity?
Which leaves us with the sellers but here, too, I see nothing but roadblocks as each will instinctively try to promote its own interests and these often conflict with reality.
The solution will probably evolve gradually as the old guard elements on both sides of the equation are replaced by younger people who become exposed to a broader range of thinking---like understanding how branding campaigns work as opposed to direct response/search efforts. Once those distinctions are fully appreciated, the best tools will be used while old tools that serve no purpose are discarded.
Excellent point Ed. This was a key issue of discussion yesterday at TV of Tomorrow in SF. I think that it will need to be the large TV companies, operarting together, since they have the most to gain - and lose - if this doesn't happen. They will need to make it easier for the agencies to operate cross-platfomr and simpler to explain to clients. If they don't, Google/YouTube and Amazon will domiante the CTV spend and take the brand dollars from them too over time.
Good discussion, Dave and Ed. To tag on, I'm reminded of a comment an erstwhile business partner of mine -- Tim McHale -- once said: "The business will change with every retirement party." This is the kind of evolution Ed refers to. This iterative alteration to practice and process, however, has to be preceeded by a reframing that must come from on high at both advertiser and agency. Someone on both ends who have both responsibility and authority needs to demand an approach that brings the best of both worlds together. A kind of "brand response" ethos, if you will. A modus operandi based on a principle that merges the best of the digital/DR and linear/branding disciplines can be established by a) proving the logic of the apprach, b) demonstrating success of that approach, and c) aligning the emotional and material incentives of marketing and media teams to put it into practice. The tools are there -- or almost there -- and the talent is there (or almost there). All that's missing is will.