May 17, 2016

Programmatic TV is following the same path as digital

Critics want to believe the buzz is just that: big talk that the industry can’t deliver on. Though experts know it’s not just a pipe dream, a Wall Street Journal article from earlier this year gives weight to the idea that programmatic TV is stuck in its tracks, waiting for someone to bang on it and adjust the signal.

It’s true that advanced TV is a complex, fragmented landscape. It’s also true that not all TV buyers and sellers are convinced the marketplace needs programmatic. But is there truth to the imminent progression from linear TV buying into programmatic TV buying? Or is it all just white noise? (Is anyone else having déjà vu?)

Programmatic TV is still moving forward

When you get down to brass tacks, connected TV’s path to programmatic isn’t much different from digital media. What is different is where we’ve come in the space.  In the early stages of programmatic, everything digital started by taking remnant inventory and layering data and decisioning on top of it. It shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone that the highest quality premium inventory isn’t rushing to be first in line for Supply Side Platforms (SSPs).

The early days of programmatic TV is less about “remnant” inventory and discovering inefficient pockets of inventory.  That is why the earliest adopters have focused on local broadcast and longer tail cable networks first. Demand Side Platforms (DSPs) offer value by aggregating a lot of inventory at scale, a difficult prospect without the underlying framework. DSPs also give buyers better decision making tools to pick the ads they want. Following on the heels of the private marketplace explosion from digital last year, premium TV inventory is already leveraging this new tool.

Centralization for buyers and sellers

If marketers want to achieve a truly omnichannel experience, the precision, insights and optimization of programmatic need to be available for all media formats through a connected marketplace. That is the only way TV will play in the same sphere as digital.

Eventually, marketers will demand TV to have the capabilities that come standard on digital campaigns. They’ll want a simpler workflow and a centralized way to manage campaigns. Similarly, sellers will be able to cut costs by automating huge parts of their workflow. Though advanced TV has some kinks to work out, the market continues to drive forward.

So is programmatic TV stuck? Not exactly. It’s in an early phase, with plenty of potential.