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How Quickly Can We Create a Television Spot?

May 7th, 2019   ||    by Rick Howe

Some time ago, sitting in an agency presentation, I expressed my frustration with an agency’s creative director droning on and on about his “vision” for my product.

“Excuse me for interrupting,” I said. “But would you PLEASE get out of your own head and get into MY head!”

And that’s how it worked back then, and pretty much how it works now.

Joanna O’Connell, VP and Principal Analyst for Forrester Research, speaking at the recent AdExchanger Programmatic I/O conference in San Francisco, illustrated the traditional wisdom for advertising creative by quoting William Bernbach, Founder of Doyle Dane Bernbach:

“Advertising is fundamentally persuasion, persuasion happens to be not a science but an art.”

Ms. O’Connell went on to illustrate the classic process of advertising creation as “time-consuming and uni-directional.”

Admittedly the industry has sped up the creative process, if only for (the increasingly commoditized) digital space. But that has come with a cost. Ms. O’Connell referenced the 2018 Forrester Research report on the Future of Omnichannel Advertising telling the audience that we are REALLY pissing off (my word, not hers) consumers with the way we are creating and placing digital ads on mobile, websites and search engines. (Doctor’s Note: are you really surprised?). Over 50% of consumers will go out of their way to avoid those ads (I know I do; don’t you?):

So, we have expensive advertising messages that take forever to create, and we end up alienating a large portion of consumers.

Great business, isn’t it?

Not long ago, I postulated that we could actually deliver an effective advertising message in one second. My tongue was firmly planted in my cheek, but there apparently was some truth in the concept.

At the Programmatic I/O conference we learned from a number of speakers, including MightyHive CEO Pete Kim, that we need to view the process of advertising creative as a conversation, not a lecture; not a single speech but a continuous campaign. That in and of itself, isn’t all that ground-breaking, until you realize how frequently we connect with our consumers on multiple devices.

Consider how often you might see a message from any given brand (probably one that is relevant to you) on your various devices in a single 24-hour period. What if all those messages were linked into a conversation, each piece recognizing that you saw the prior message and building on that.

While this might sound like artificial intelligence at its best, it’s actually rooted in a proven (and widely-deployed) concept. For years, DIRECTV and Dish Network have reserved a “partition” of their subscribers’ DVRs to download and store a variety of television spots. Based on their own algorithms, the satellite companies would select and play one of those spots at the appointed time.

Expand that out to an omnichannel ad server that handles web, mobile, in-game, television and more.  Tracking each consumer’s exposure to short-form video ads throughout the day (for example), they would deliver the long-form pay-off during prime-time television.

Is that final ad created on the fly? Nope. But it’s being selected on the fly. With dozens, or hundreds, or even thousands of nuanced messages loaded and ready to go, we are very close to creating meaningful ads in less than a second. Server Side Ad Insertion (SSAI) with brains.  Perhaps a :30 spot that includes a broad-based :25 product message and a :05 custom intro that is selected based on what I’ve already seen that day.

I’m not holding my breath, mind you. But it’s coming.

But today, the traditional television ad business is still carrying the industry’s water and generating the lion’s share of impact for ad buyers and revenue for ad sellers. In fact, we are seeing a substantial uptick in television antenna sales (for local broadcast television), reported by Horowitz Research.

And Fast Company quotes proprietary research from the Consumer Technology Association, saying that “Young TV Viewers are turning to antennae to escape cable’s insane prices.”

This is great news for technology companies like Videa, who are helping local broadcasters automate the ad sales equation in order to level the playing field with their national and digital competition. And Videa has the numbers on their side today, with coverage in 161 markets in 48 states and 612 local television stations. Videa averages 90% reach across 83.9 million households, and 1.4 trillion annual impressions!

(graphic courtesy of Forrester.)

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