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Bridging TV and programmatic – how to effectively merge siloed channels

Phil Acton, Country Manager UK, Adform

TV has long been top of the pile when it comes to planning advertising campaigns, due to its ubiquitous nature and perceived high emotional impact. However, with the growth of CTV, planning and measuring on TV is now a comparably slow and inexact process that has got stuck in its own unique silo. This sits starkly at odds with what marketers have become used to in the digital ads space: a smooth, fast, trackable and ultimately measurable experience; driven by the power of programmatic buying.

Many of today’s marketers and advertisers are crying out to be able to plan TV campaigns in the same way, with all the benefits programmatic brings to digital campaigns. And to be able to link TV with other channels to create true multi-channel campaign experiences.

Defragmenting fragmentation

The problem is that the media ecosystem is still highly fragmented, and this serves to make it difficult for advertisers to plan and activate campaigns across multiple channels in this way. The fundamentals are so different it seems hard to picture an ecosystem where TV and digital could sit comfortably in the same process. Not even the metrics used appear comparable: TV advertising is about GRPs (Gross Rating Points), TRPs (Target Rating Points) and reach, while programmatic evaluates impressions, viewability and unique users.

The standards can also differ widely between countries. While many continue to bill using GRP, major Spanish media group Atresmedia recently began invoicing linear TV and BVOD advertising at CPM instead of cost per GRP. Although this could potentially be the standard adopted globally by media groups in the long term, it adds more fragmentation to the media ecosystem in the short-term. This lack of standardisation has helped to create an environment where TV is surrounded by high walls that have made it almost impossible for marketers and advertisers to easily link it with other channels.

The arrival of Connected TV (CTV) has started to make bridging this divide achievable. As things stand, most of the available CTV inventory is traded via programmatic deals or direct buys, as publishers look to retain the maximum control over their premium inventory. However, it’s widely expected that the market will start to gradually open up as accepted standards are established in CTV. It’s also expected that this will eventually facilitate the transformation of programmatic into a true omnichannel offering.

Improving the impact of advertising

A recent survey examining UK consumer attitudes to CTV found that its adoption has continued its explosive growth since the early days of the pandemic, which drove rapid adoption through 2020; so much so that today 94% of British adults are reachable by CTV. Furthermore, CTV is continuing to steadily eat away at linear TV, with 13% of people watching less linear TV compared to 12 months ago. On top of this, users are eager for a more user-friendly ad experience, with 78% of users preferring ads relevant to their interests and 71% preferring ads relevant to the content they are watching.

Bringing programmatic into the TV arena and enabling marketers to apply the same techniques across the board is a massive win for all those involved in the digital advertising ecosystem. Not only does it enable greater reach, it also opens up new target groups and brings the promise of greater advertising impact as brands start to benefit from increased relevance. it’s no surprise that advertisers are looking to get in on the action. This explains why the combination of TV and programmatic is expected to increase the number of advertisers using the format, and thus, the advertising spend in the sector.

Meeting new measurability standards

While it’s true that programmatic has some measurability standards that could prove difficult to transfer to TV advertising due to the fragmentation of the advertising landscape – this doesn’t mean that making them comparable is by any means impossible. If we look at things from a high level, a digital TV commercial is not really any different to an online video ad unit in a web browser. This means that in theory RTB, VAST measurement standards, and the OM Web Video SDK can all be applied to TV spots played on a smart device in exactly the same way they are for online video. Similarly, there are also opportunities to apply the IAB’s Transparency and Consent Framework and to tackle ad fraud. Once header bidding and the use of IDs on CTV become a reality, this lays the foundation for programmatic advertising, which in turn places true cross-channel frequency capping and integrated brand and performance campaigns comfortably within reach for marketers and advertisers.

Making TV omnichannel

The development and linking of other channels in the past gives us a clear historical indication of the evolutionary timeline for how we would expect CTV to develop over the next few years. We expect to see CTV turning TV into an integrated channel in the omnichannel digital media landscape in the very near future. This is a huge opportunity for advertisers, and one they need to get to grips with now, because as these previously siloed channels merge it will give both advertisers and users a much more desirable advertising experience. That is a powerful proposition as brands look to find new ways to reach and engage with their audiences.

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