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How Automation Is Bound to Change TV Advertising Metrics

July 19th, 2018   ||    by Oriana Schwindt

From manufacturing, to the service industry, to transportation, automation is the buzzword everyone is throwing around. In TV advertising, that essentially means programmatic.

At June’s Programmatic TV Summit in New York, Karine McMaster, associate media director of Advanced TV Local Investment at Amplifi US, said the industry needs a more efficient system, so planners aren’t left saying, “We can’t spend dollars in local.”

But while the industry is feeling its way toward automation, execs are still debating the TV advertising metrics that serve as programmatic’s plumbing. What’s the right mix of targets that are broad enough to encompass a useful set of potential customers, but not so broad that you’re reaching people you don’t need? How do sellers guarantee specific business outcomes? And how does this work on a local level?

Moving Forward

On both a national and local level, TV ad sellers’ feelings are the same: their competition is Silicon Valley. The days when sellers could guarantee a simple 18-49 demographic number and call it a day are over, thanks to digital juggernauts like Facebook and Google.

Those companies can serve up not just laser-precision targeting, but also real-time data around results like click-through rates. TV advertising metrics have in the past reflected weekly, monthly, and—especially when it comes to business outcomes—quarterly data.

And yet for all the shine emanating from Facebook and Google’s ad products, marketers say television is, and will remain, an essential part of their mix. They’d just like to see more concrete results in a more timely fashion—and that’s becoming possible.

A New Standard for Metrics

“In digital, there is no notion of a single currency except that its impressions measured [are] in some way agreed on,” Jonathan Steuer, chief research officer at Omnicom, said at the summit. The idea of a more fluid currency gives buyers and sellers flexibility, as long as the measurement is accurate.

The Coalition for Innovative Media Measurement (CIMM), an industry organization dedicated to pushing TV advertising metrics forward, partnered with Kantar Media to create a new audio watermark for media that can be read across platforms and track ad performance. That watermark has passed through testing, and CIMM members will soon begin using the new standard.

And there’s the coming adoption of ATSC 3.0, which, while not a cure-all, also provides a blueprint for addressability, measurement, and interactivity.

The advent of live, streaming TV has opened up a whole new world for local broadcasters. Sling TV, Dish’s live OTT service, is now seeing its two minutes per hour of ad inventory fly off the shelf, thanks to its ability to dynamically insert ads into streams.

For local broadcasters, the ability to not just automate real-time buys, but prove business outcomes, could be an enormous boon. Common consensus is that the leaders of this migration to automation on the buy side will be political campaigns.

“The difference between Philadelphia and Pittsburgh is drastic,” Frank Comerford, chief revenue officer and president of commercial operations at NBCUniversal, said at the summit. Local stations need to be able to accommodate not just local campaigns, but broader ones. “Issues advertising is transitioning to year-round,” he added.

In an ideal world, marketers will be able to set up their targets, automatically bid for spots, have their ads dynamically inserted in real time, and see results much more quickly.

The future may not match that ideal exactly, and local media still has a ways to go. But as McMaster said, “We need local media.”

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