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Senior Director Video | Programmatic Video, TV

Programmatic TV Advertising is Like Teenage Sex: But How Do You Do ‘It’ Right?

blog, Improve Digital, TV advertising

Programmatic TV advertising. It’s everywhere. It’s said to be the future of programmatic advertising but the more people talk about it, the more confusing it seems to get. Hence Dan Ariely’s quote came to mind, and programmatic TV fits right in: “Programmatic TV advertising is like teenage sex: everyone talks about it, nobody really knows how to do it, everyone thinks everyone else is doing it, so everyone claims they’re doing it.” What are the tall tales of the school yard, and what actually is essential information? To avoid awkward firsts, let’s explore what programmatic TV is about and have ‘the talk’.

“Everyone talks about it”

Ok but what does full programmatic TV mean? It means delivering a programmatic, data-driven ad experience in a digital TV environment. Very important aspect here is the data: data can be used in combination with the software automation that programmatic provides one-to-one targeting, allowing advertisers to target more specific audiences, with the high quality tv, yet very personal, experience.

“Nobody really knows how to do it”

Important to consider is, who will benefit from this, and who needs this? Broadcasters should be very eager to go the next base, as advertising budgets are shifting from TV to online. They can now take the opportunity and set the rules.
This will involve creating new, dedicated protocols specifically for the new situation, ensuring they will work, and basing them on what demands need fulfilling. Not fixes cobbled together, taken here from TV, there from digital. Broadcast TV content is morphing into digital video content, and we need to innovate to get past the novice stage and create a new fusion. Essential in this is obviously the safe-guarding of the quality of content of TV and combining that with the potential one-to-one targeting online can offer.

“Everyone thinks everyone else is doing it”

In the meantime, there are plenty of misconceptions and claims about what is and isn’t possible, but technically we can do a lot already. You can see them as the typical tall tales of the school yard. A few to consider:

“We’re moving towards a utopian, global programmatic TV solution”

The way any final programmatic TV solution will play out will greatly depend on where you are in the world. With such a reliance on data, different laws in different parts of the world mean that what works in the US, for instance, won’t be applicable in the EU. One regional example is the GDPR looming closer (effective May 2018). the digital and broadcast industries will have to create new work-arounds as consumers gain more control. That could mean educating consumers as Channel 4 did with their awareness campaign in the UK. Preparing for the stricter data privacy laws that come with the GDPR is as essential as facing the challenges regarding data storage and mining.

“To compete with Google, Facebook, etc., you have to be a tech company; programmatic trading is too unpredictable for our TV industry and will commoditize our inventory”

It’s true that owning the entire data chain makes it easier to then offer a personalised ad solution. But as a broadcaster, you have powerful data, and the gateway to consumer subscription, viewing, contextual, browsing and content data, that’s linked to the kind of quality content that attracts audiences and, by extension, advertisers. The right partners will help you leverage that data to compete against the big guys. Getting the most out of your data programmatically will lead to combatting fragmentation, regaining advertiser budgets, and expanding product life cycle.

“So, everyone claims they are doing it.”

Despite all the doubts and misinformation, there are benefits of programmatic TV for broadcasters, cable and TV content providers.

Better targeting that woos advertisers and their budgets

While programmatic TV’s final incarnation won’t be a straightforward linear-digital hybrid, there are plenty of opportunities to move past the awkward stage through addressable TV. This form of digital TV ad delivery mixes panel and census data by retrieving data from set-top boxes, and then selectively segmenting and targeting consumers. It allows to combine marketing and performance data to give advertisers a better picture of their target market. Better targeting and better data can be a magnetic combination for advertisers.

Keep the home fires burning by extending product life cycle

TV has always had a powerful role in any brand’s marketing strategy. With dynamic ad insertion combatting advertiser nervousness around brand safety, experiments in Connected TV, HBBTV and digital TV apps are giving broadcasters new opportunities to combine products and services through syndication. That means giving advertisers new, efficient, engaging ways to reach audiences, and generating more revenue from existing content.

Offering premium quality content, more than any other online party can do at this moment, provides broadcasters with a premium position within the programmatic advertising ecosystem. Combine this with the potential of individual targeting programmatic technology makes available, and this position improves even more. The technology being developed enables programmatic advertising to appear in a very ‘brand safe’ environment.

Stronger together: start experimenting together during recess

There’s no need to wait to get into the partnering game and compete against the big US guys. German broadcast group ProSiebenSat1 took matters in its own hands and joined forces with MediaSet (France) and TF1 (Italy) to form the European Broadcaster Exchange (EBX) not so long ago, to further internationalise its online video business.

It’s important for all parties in the TV content industry to partner up because integrating sources of data can open doors to new formats and advertisers who want to target their audience programmatically. You’re not alone in this. An ad tech provider can be called upon as a good adviser on this count. They can find the right complementary match and inform about video consumption analytics (usage data, EPG data, integrated video insights), access services (data used for captioning and subtitling can be used for contextual marketing in video content) and external data (social media usage, weather data, national holidays, etc.). A quality match will mean that you as a broadcaster aren’t selling yourself short.

Do it with someone you trust

Ok so what now? You’ve got more information, should you jump into this straight away? I say, yes! But before you do, get informed and educated. Find a partner that you can trust (dare I say, even love?) and experiment. Learn by trial-and-error, make mistakes but also work together to fix them, and strive for a better experience for everyone. That will ultimately bring greater business satisfaction.

Kyra leads Improve Digital’s video department as the company’s senior video director. In her role, Kyra oversees strategy both within the department and helps content providers improve their own programmatic video strategy. Before joining Improve Digital in 2016, Kyra gained extensive experience in broadcast, video and publishing while serving at international publisher Metro, NEP Group, where she specialised in OTT and VOD, as well as by serving at full service TV entertainment production and distribution company FCCE. In her position at FCCE, she launched China’s first crowd sourced movie concept which was the Winner of the International Digital Emmy Award 2013 and awarded as "The Most Influential Culture Event for Chinese Entrepreneurs". Kyra is a seasoned speaker, having appeared on stage at the Programmatic Video Conference in Scandinavia and many others.