Secret Meetings to Advance Advanced TV

Even something like the Secret Society cannot be kept secret for too long. On a very rainy day in New York City, the room was packed with attendees. 

The most recent meeting focused on, as Mitch Oscar, USIM Advanced Television Strategist, noted, “Dialoguing issues on Advanced TV.” Speakers from networks, agencies, data specialists and research companies offered their perspectives on the advantages, challenges and futures of Advanced TV, Addressable TV and Programmatic.

Data has never been more important to ad tech and the systems that are emerging for targeted advertising. In an important next step, some of the walled gardens are coming down as the industry is starting to coalesce around shared interests. Since the Secret Society meeting, Viacom, Fox and Turner announced their joint effort called OpenAP.

The full adoption of Advanced TV still has its strengths and challenges. Obviously, the ability to more finely hone an ad message delivered to the right audience makes Advanced TV a ‘must consider’. Yet, the available inventory is still somewhat restricted and issues like workflow, fragmentation and walled gardens need to be addressed. And we need more overall industry participation to accelerate progress.

Strengths and Challenges
      Ø  Targeting. Finally there is a way to go beyond age and gender in a meaningful way. For those of us who have been in the industry for a while, the opportunity to target is seismic. “In 1975 when I was negotiating for broadcast TV, it was the first year that the guarantees were based on age and gender and not household,” Oscar reminisced, “At that time we said, ‘households don’t buy products, people do.’ Forty plus years later, we are looking at households that have people of different ages and genders that exhibit behavioral characteristics as behavioral targets. We are getting closer to targeting people who might be interested in the product and eventually purchase it.”

      Ø  Inventory. However, there are not enough national opportunities to target. The inventory currently available in Advanced TV is two minutes of local inventory per hour.  

      Ø  Workflow and Fragmentation. “Workflow for audience systems does not exist. We need a universal workflow instead of taking bits and pieces from various media companies,” Oscar noted. But even before the workflow, there is a need to address the myriad of platforms, networks and data sources that silo efforts. “The most important challenge is how many different platforms and data sources there are,” he continued, “Seven addressable TV platforms, 15 programmatic platforms, 6 contextual audience networks that offer 31 flavors of products, and over 68 data sources across these platforms makes it difficult to evaluate and implement.”

      Ø  Participation. Getting more clients on board and involved is paramount according to Dave Morgan, CEO and Founder, Simulmedia. “It is critical that the Advanced TV industry work harder to get clients - the marketers - much more directly involved in development,” he stated, “Customer and purchase data is the key fuel in all Advanced TV applications and it is the client that controls that data.”

      Ø  Marketing Focus. Demonstrate the value of Advanced TV. Morgan believes, “We need to make it more about marketing - driving provable sales, ROI and other desired business outcomes - than advertising - delivering impressions and other media metrics. The future of advertising is about performance. That is where Advanced TV efforts should be focused.”

The Next Step
Arguably the next step in advancing Advanced TV is working together towards shared interests.Enter OpenAP. Audrey Steele, EVP, Sales Research Insights and Strategy, Fox Networks Group, spoke about OpenAP as a way to break down some of the walled gardens, set some level of standardization and accelerate the adoption of Advanced TV advertising. She explained that the three partners, Viacom, Fox and Turner, are “Frenemies,” who are, “similar in intent but the execution of sales inventory is different.” Steele noted that OpenAp:

     Ø  Offers the ability to optimize existing base buys.
     Ø  Is unified in need for standardization.
     Ø  Offers the promise of digital programmatic.
     Ø  Enables the most persuasive message for ad placement.
     Ø  Is an immersive environment with digital precision for your brand message
     Ø  Is fraud free and is transparent.

The Future
Some media executives believe that the future of Advanced TV is now and is quickly enlisting many more players. Morgan stated, “I think that we are going to see a significant acceleration of data-optimized linear TV ads, particularly as we see big enterprise tech companies like Oracle and Adobe getting more involved and as we see the big digital players like Facebook and Google getting more and more involved in TV advertising.”

Others think that despite the recent advancements, progress still seems slow. “In 1996 addressability was thought to happen any day now,” posited Oscar, “So we do have more platforms rolling out. But its deployment slow. Right now with Addressable TV, we have 34 million homes that can get addressable linear TV commercials and 19 million in the ad supported VOD addressable realm. That is 20 years later and we are nearly in half the country of 118 million homes.”

For me, while it has taken decades to reach this point, the technological rollout is accelerating and the industry is embracing all of the elements of a successful Advanced TV marketplace. So I believe that the future is now, as long as we keep the channels of discussion and cooperation flowing.

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