Chris Anderson's tome, "The Long Tail: Why the Future of Business is Selling Less of More" (2006), wrestled the "long tail" distribution concept from the dominion of theoretical statisticians into the upturned palms of e-tailers, who the author posited would inherit the earth, to the bemusement of entertainment Goliaths. The strategy: sell a large number of unique items with relatively small quantities sold of each, in conjunction with the sale of fewer popular items in large quantities. Within months, the TV community appropriated the long-tail concept, adding the term to its lexicon.
We are entering the stage where anonymous data-matching techniques are improving enough that an individual's television-viewing behavior can be directly matched to his or her purchase information. This development will have a dramatic impact on how television advertising is bought and sold.
Programmatic buying can be used to extend TV audiences to improve a cross-channel campaign. These audiences can be targeted in a number of different ways: by show, for example, target audiences of "Big Bang Theory"; by category, for example, target audiences of televised sports; by TV events, for example, target the Super Bowl audience; by daypart, for example, target day-time audiences; by custom segments that combine any of the above with first- or third-party data; and by viewership, for example, target light viewers of any of the above.
Network groups' increasing investments in TV audience data suggest that this is not a passing fad -- and may soon become the lingua franca for most TV campaigns. That means TV media buying is about to become very complex very quickly. To build a data-driven TV plan requires understanding several key aspects of the data available and how it will be applied to the inventory.
Welcome to a world of multiple exchanges, complex algorithms, confusing jargon, aggressive middlemen, and tuned-out clients. Sound familiar? Well, it's not ad tech. It's Wall Street. The eerie parallels between today's Wall Street and the increasingly automated world of advertising are unmistakable in Michael Lewis' new book, "Flash Boys." (Lewis has shed indirect light on our industry before with his 2003 book "Moneyball," which became the the hero narrative for quants.)