Member blog: Turning Legacy TV Roads into Programmatic Superhighways

Author: Kyra Steegs, Senior Director Video, Improve Digital 

Contributor: Shivara ten Berge, Product Consultant TV Inventory & Data Trading, MediaKind 

For years, full programmatic TV has seemed like an elusive dream in the digital ad industry. We’ve all been waiting for the moment when it will be possible to marry the reach and content that broadcast once had with the targeted, real-time, personalised ad experience that user-based data can offer. Now for the first time in the ecosystem, we’re seeing the emergence of a bright, new reality. Partnerships are arising in the digital ad world that will soon deliver mature programmatic TV revenue streams for advertisers, broadcasters and distributors alike.

The programmatic TV pipeline has been set in motion

For a long time, benefiting from user-driven TV ad revenue has been a distant glint in the eyes of the entire advertising ecosystem. But legacy practices were keeping all parties in a holding pattern. Broadcasters had no access to individual user-data; telecom providers had that data, but no way to leverage it because the tech was not there to guarantee brand safety; and advertisers needing that brand safety long accepted day-part targeting as “just how we do things in TV land”.

Now, with the coming of dynamic ad insertion, telecom providers can start offering the application of audience-based user data to the kind of premium, brand safe TV environments brands crave. Full programmatic TV isn’t here yet, but there’s a lot we can do already to start providing an effective end-to-end solution for automated TV ad trading.

You don’t have to own the entire data chain

Because data drives programmatic targeting, the main stumbling block to creating it was gaining smooth, unrestricted access to that data when almost no party owns the entire data chain. Now, you don’t have to be part of the digital duopoly to access a data chain.

Here, workable access to telecom provider set-top box household data has been key. Before dynamic ad insertion (DAI), there was no way to cut and match pieces of creative effectively to who’s watching. Legacy practices meant that ads were predefined within  programmes and the first cases of dynamic ad replacement were clumsy and limiting. However, by cultivating the audience insights owned by telecoms and exposing this within the flexible machine-smart architecture that DAI offers, we are able to run dynamically placed ads of much higher relevance for viewers than were ever possible with legacy TV.

Cross-device and cross-service plug-and-play pipelines

That’s one piece of the puzzle, but you still need a delivery pipeline to viewers. Since telecom providers can deliver across TV services – Linear, VOD, DVR, Catch-up – on any device, that piece is now also in place. In terms of targeting capabilities, we are moving towards data enrichment. That means that, in a digital TV environment, where cookies don’t apply, we’re moving from contextual meta-data targeting (which is arguably similar to legacy demographic targeting) to anonymized data segments of 100 households. These segments, apart from gender, age and location, include viewing behaviour garnered from set-top boxes. This is addressable TV and it’s the next step towards individual targeting, otherwise known as full programmatic TV.

Partnerships are gearing up

As a result, we’re seeing the emergence of workable partnerships between telecom providers and broadcasters that plug into a data chain with effective targeting capabilities. With telecoms having the content delivery capabilities that track and serve to viewers on one hand, and broadcasters having the premium content that viewers tune in for on the other, it’s only natural that the two come together – with tech protocols and programmatic tech providers there to bind their collaboration.

In the Netherlands, we’re seeing a new ad delivery system being dreamed up by incumbent telecom provider KPN and network Talpa. In the UK, there’s the partnering of Sky and AdSmart. For our part as an ad tech provider, we’ve joined forces with content delivery platform MediaKind, formerly known as Ericsson TV, to offer broadcasters, telecom providers and advertisers a ready-made pipeline to the kind of data, ad trading and delivery capabilities that open up rich revenue opportunities.

Is this full programmatic?

We’re not at full throttle yet. There are still some technical hurdles to overcome, such as defining a suitable, universal technique to replace client-side cookie IDs (which are currently needed for features such as Frequency Capping), but with industry forces marching in step, it’s only a matter of time before all the pieces are aligned. For now, there’s already a lot we can do for broadcasters, advertisers and telecom companies to start taking advantage of the revenue benefits of a ready-made TV ad revenue pipeline.


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