TV Audience Buying Is Only Half the Story [Breaking News]

January 20, 2015 Walt Horstman

As I read through the multiple year-end wrap-ups on the growth and future of programmatic in media, it seems many commenters put TV at a disadvantage.

A common refrain was that programmatic for TV really just means adding audience buying to TV. TV just moves too slowly, has too much legacy, so therefore the best we can expect from TV in the near term is a moderate transition from context-based buying to audience-based buying, based on first- and third-party data sets. Any tech advances that have emerged in digital are many years off into the future for TV.


But TV audience buying is only half the story of programmatic TV. The other half is technology automation. And the good news is that the tech is much further along than many realize. In fact, in some areas, it has leapfrogged over digital tech.

True TV audience buying means that first- and third-party data is matched with set-top-box or other TV viewership data to determine the audience composition of various networks and dayparts. For example, the audience data prove that heavy coffee drinkers have very high audience composition on History 2 in Late Fringe and BBC America in Early Fringe among other networks and dayparts. This insight is determined by analyzing every network across every daypart to rank their composition for a given audience segment. In cable TV alone, there are well over 100 ad-insertable networks. There are also 12 standard dayparts in a week. That amounts to over 1,200 network/daypart options to analyze for audience composition per week for a campaign. 

But a true TV audience-based plan doesn’t just evaluate audience composition. It also needs to take into account reach and frequency, budget and cost. These multiple planning dimensions must be balanced appropriately; otherwise, too concentrated an audience will sacrifice reach targets or cost targets. Very sophisticated tech algorithms must be used to solve these multidimensional planning challenges.

To execute, deliver and optimize the plan effectively during its flight requires even more advanced technology. Unlike digital, which is a real-time decision medium, TV requires advanced planning and forecasting. When the audience-based plan is put into execution, the back-end TV technology must support automated daily reporting, recalibration and optimization based on shifting viewership so that the multiple goals of the campaign are achieved with precision. This execution and optimization simply cannot be effective at scale using phone calls, emails or fax machines. Audience-based TV campaigns are simply too complex, too multi-dimensional to be effective without full end-to-end workflow automation. 

And here is the best news. A leading TV inventory provider is currently beta-testing a fully touchless end-end programmatic TV campaign. It’s an effort months long in the making. The entire campaign will be planned, bought, trafficked, reported, optimized and posted using only advanced TV technology. True programmatic TV, audience-buying plus advanced TV tech, is much further along than many realize.  It will be the sleeper hit of 2015.

Source: Media Post

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