Programmatic TV advertising has become a hot topic over the past year, but what does it really mean? The digital advertising players have been developing a programmatic ecosystem for some time, yet they define programmatic in what amounts to a "I'll know it when I see it" manner. So how might we map such a loosely formed concept to the TV advertising industry?
I remember that when I started in the media business, around the mid-'70s, the community's attention was focused on reach. Mass reach. Broad reach. Television. The cult of the horizontal. At the turn of the 21st Century, as the televisual universe expanded and video became much more prevalently experienced across all static and mobile TV platforms (traditional TV, broadband, mobile), we entered the horizontical epoch.
Programmatic TV is the combination of audience data and automated execution to make TV planning, buying, optimizing and reporting smarter and more effective. Over the past few years, we have built a wealth of audience data from multiple online and offline sources that we now can use in TV. Then comes the invariable "BUT" -- and we hear the sound of the programmatic TV gears stripping. "But programmatic TV needs automation and TV is not automated," or, "Can you believe they still use fax machines in TV?"
When a phrase like "programmatic advertising" takes hold - just as "the Internet" took hold in the '90s - it tends to be wrapped in imperatives and superlatives. "Everything is going programmatic." "It's the future." Executives making strategic decisions, when confronted with these imperative phrases, can feel a level of panic. Everything is going programmatic? It is? When? What do I have to do? As we collectively prepare for a future that involves programmatic TV, it may be useful to try and be accurate about how much TV media is likely to be traded programmatically, versus through traditional means. What …
The gossip is true. The mother of all media measurement, the Gross Rating Point, got her groove on with the man, Digital Measurement, and unto them was borne a new measurement standard: the Audience Rating Point (ARP).