Where Do We Go With Programmatic? Experts Weigh in at the Addressable Advertising Conference

As the television ecosystem continues to evolve with ever increasing speed, it is difficult to keep up with not only all of the new advancements but also all of the conferences whose panels and speakers keep us up to date. This past week was the fourth annual NYC TV and Video week comprising of four major conferences that included a range of compelling speakers on topics from virtual reality, addressable advertising, data, diversity and programmatic. These series of events offered an up to date appraisal of where the media ecosystem is headed.

When it comes to programmatic, the conversation comprised of many of the issues that now face television in general. That is, the need for standardization (in the case of programmatic that means standard buying segments), a common language so that terms are clearly understood (the recently updated CIMM Lexicon addresses this issue) and the ability to get to scale cross-platform, especially with niche targets (there are no easy solutions as of yet and the landscape continues to change).

What are the pressing needs to move programmatic and addressable advertising forward?  Here are some takeaways:

Standards are Important … When we talk about creating standards, we need to specify the areas that benefit from standardization (such as terms and definitions) and those that can’t (such as CPMs and pricing). Eric Schmitt, EVP, Communications, TV & Media, Acxiom, noted that, “the lack of segmentation standards is the single biggest impediment in rolling programmatic TV out across the industry. How segments are defined is also a problem across advertisers. We are tackling this because we want segmentations to be actionable across industry.”

… But Not for Every Aspect of Programmatic or Addressable
But when it comes to pricing and CPMs, Nick Troiano, CEO, Cadent, stated, ”Audiences are different across MVPDs. New York is different than Iowa. Advertisers are used to buying across the nation but we price by specific markets, according to supply and demand.” And Maria Mandel Dunsche, VP, Head of Marketing, AT&T AdWorks, added, “Pricing depends on the category. The price for the initial buy could have a higher CPM than for a linear buy. But the effective CPM can wind up lower.” 

Scale Needs to Be Addressed
“Where does an addressable campaign fit in with the rest of the media?” asks Jonathan Bokor, SVP, Director of Advanced Media, MediaVest|Spark. He continued, “Standards are important. Do we base it on frequency or reach? We look at addressable as targeting. Scale is an issue.” Troiano explained that at Cadent, “We are placing media across platforms and work closely with our engineers to support addressable advertising. We recognize that, with any new medium, scale is fundamental. Fifty to 60 million homes are addressable today but they have different workflows. From a technological perspective, we unify and make it simple.

Walled Gardens Have to Come Down
The walled gardens that exist across MVPDs, content owners such as networks and agencies are preventing the easy access, execution and calculation of addressable campaigns. As long as they exist, this will stunt growth. “The siloed and walled gardens that exist today have to come down,” stated Troiano. “We need to be able to execute campaign across operators. Until there are mechanisms for agencies or buyers to execute across operators, we won't get out of the small end of the funnel,” he added.

Everything takes time and the media ecosystem appears to be in constant change and evolution. If we as an industry can start to collaborate by dismantling the walled gardens, agree on even the most basic terms and perhaps even a standardize-able list of acceptable metrics, it could move the business further faster. Everyone benefits.

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