Major networks have challenged advanced TV pioneer Netflix to release viewership data time and time again, but chief content officer Ted Sarandos isn’t budging. Part of Sarandos’ reasoning is that ratings are more relevant to ad-supported shows and networks. The other part has wide implications for TV buyers looking into advanced TV.
“The methodology and the measurement and the data itself don’t reflect any sense of reality of anything that we keep track of,” Sarandos explained. “Once we give a number for a show, then every show will be benchmarked off of that show even though they were built sometimes for very specific audiences.”
In rebelling against a standardized rating system, Netflix raises an important question for content and advertising alike: is it better to cater to the bulk of Americans who passively watch or to deliver something that speaks directly to a smaller, niche audience who are highly engaged? Netflix actively chooses the latter. And as the industry evolves, TV buyers should consider taking a page out of the Netflix playbook and try to embrace catering to these “very specific audiences.” This audience fragmentation provides a clear opportunity to deliver relevant ads that resonate with the viewer through Advanced TV.
Still, industry folks continue to argue whether traditional broadcast TV is dying or thriving and the truth is, they are missing a major point: scalability is the new reach. It’s more important to understand how you streamline your message to reach viewers meaningfully, no matter how, where, or when they’re watching TV. Your audience may be fragmented, but it’s more engaged than ever before.
Fortunately, advanced TV is actually doing as much to drive advertising convergence forward as it has done to fragment audiences. Buying programmatically through omnichannel DSPs helps advertisers shift from a channel-specific to an audience-specific mindset. Right now, the important conversation in programmatic is how linear and advanced TV should work together to drive an addressable advertising experience – one that homes turn away from 38 per cent less of the time than non-addressable ads.
NBCUniversal itself recently announced it’ll start selling programmatically through linear networks, making it one of the highest profile examples yet of linear TV entering the programmatic marketplace and providing strong validation that holistic TV buying may not be as far away as one might think.
Advertising through advanced TV is a natural driver for making sense of fragmented audiences. The power of knowing who’s watching, and the ability to deliver brand messaging with a higher level of precision and accuracy than traditional TV, offers potential in pulling this fragmentation together into a clear, cohesive picture. Despite buyers not knowing how to define it, Advanced TV continues to gain momentum. Though disruption to a marketplace can be confusing, we believe that advanced TV holds the keys to a far more relevant, expressive, addressable, and effective advertising experience.
James Shears is GM of Advanced TV at The Trade Desk