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Future of TV Programmatic

Walking the Data Brick Road to TV's Emerald City

By Jason Burke, vp, product

March 21, 2016 | 4 min read

The below is written by Jason Burke, vp of product at clypd.

The latest hubbub surrounding data-driven television advertising might have some longtime TV cronies thinking they’re not in Kansas anymore, but this is really just noise about strategies that have been in existence forever. The ways in which data strategies are being invented for TV advertising are certainly innovative but data has always informed advertising, whether it’s the $5 million Super Bowl spot, the punch-the-monkey banner ad or the 14-story billboards in Times Square.

However, the recent infusion of new data sets coupled with the fragmentation of TV viewership across devices that are not on a 65-inch screen hung on the living room wall is forcing the media world to think about how to further enhance the way that television advertisers reach their intended consumers. The definition-elusive “Programmatic TV” can simply be defined as software-driven targeting, optimization and automation for television advertising and those employing it must consider several things:

Follow the Leaders

It seems that every month yet another industry juggernaut announces an innovative data-driven offering as part of its TV sales strategy. Discovery, Fox, NBCU, Turner and Viacom have each flexed their data muscles in varying ways, as the elite sales and research teams leading these media giants recognize that data drives results. Some networks use a “Bring Your Own Data” approach, allowing advertisers to use their own data or that of an agreed upon third party, whereas other media owners provide the data themselves. Regardless of the details, the takeaway is the same—the big dogs are realizing the importance of data and the rest of the media world is certain to take notice. The hosts of this year’s upfront parties are bound to be pouring bubbly from the data bottles and the brands will be guzzling.

Respect the traditions

Since the first TV ad in 1941, there have been long-standing traditions for the way that TV advertising businesses engage, transact and negotiate. A lot of that is related to the data and targeting tied to the transaction. These legacy modus operandi will not be changed overnight. The key in moving the industry forward is first to determine how data sets might enhance, rather than change ad deals. Fast-forward into the near future and we’ll likely see that the traditional age/gender currencies are still in play, but that their value has been amplified by advanced audience data that enables guaranteed transactions on some downstream purchase activity and/or brand-lift KPI.

Nothing comes easy

Operationalizing advanced data solutions by leveraging software-driven optimization and automation holds the promise of being able to plot the customer journey from the moment of branding exposure to the product purchase. But getting there is not without challenges. Defensible methodologies for the activation of household and person-level media consumption data is critical in gaining the acceptance of research teams within sales and agency organizations. Like most examples of innovation, these advanced shifts in television require the mantra, "test fast, fail fast, rinse-and-repeat."

Television advertising remains the most powerful branding vehicle, but those in this space recognize that the $74 billion media monster must evolve in order to stay relevant. And it starts with building enhancements on top of a sturdy foundation. Media companies and marketers who leverage the influx of advanced data sources on their journey down the brick path to television’s Palace of Oz are guaranteed to profit.

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