Media analyst Michael Nathanson recently reported that national TV advertising grew just 0.2% in the second quarter and that 98% of the growth in total ad spending came from online. More significantly, Nathanson estimated that digital platforms are taking 3% to 5% of TV budgets.
Digital demand-side platforms (DSPs) have set the bar for what today’s media planners and buyers require. Intuitive user interfaces, easy application of first- and third-party audience data sets, automated workflows and daily reporting of campaign delivery and optimization are becoming table stakes to compete in today’s media business. These platforms are the media planner’s equivalent of logging into Ameritrade daily to manage a stock portfolio vs. waiting for a printed statement at the end of the month in the mail.
A number of digital DSPs have gained widespread adoption by agencies and advertisers. These companies have raised vast sums of private investment and many have recently become publicly traded companies. These are funds they can further invest in best-in-class digital tech platforms.
TV is not standing still in this quickly morphing tech environment and is rapidly adopting programmatic selling platforms to be on par with digital. What was considered highly innovative just six months ago in TV, such as a self-serve dashboard to manage a TV campaign, has now become standard. More importantly, programmatic TV platforms are starting to fuse with digital DSPs to meet the needs of the emerging video planner and buyer. Just as the lines between digital and TV are beginning to blur, and the mix matures, so is the role of the agency and advertiser, planner and buyer. And this more evolved user demands simplicity, integration and cross-platform execution.
We are in the early stages of the fusion of the programmatic TV and digital platforms but the integration will gain speed and accelerate quickly in 2015 because of two drivers: first, the overwhelming demand already exists from advertisers and agencies; second, the back-end technology to automate TV already exists at scale. This fusion will occur in three stages over the next 12-18 months and will follow the model of “do the easy stuff first and save the hardest for last.”
Phase 1: Similar platform user interfaces for digital and TV. This phase is already underway, with a handful of leading agencies and advertisers now managing their digital and TV campaigns with similar user interfaces. From these platforms, reporting and optimization are managed simultaneously, albeit independently.
Phase 2: Integrated user interface through API connections.This next phase provides a common user interface for both digital and TV for cross-platform planning, optimization and reporting. The integration of digital and TV occurs in the background, using standardized APIs for campaign data distribution.
Phase 3: Common first- and third-party audience data sets.Phase 3 introduces truly cross-platform campaign planning and optimization using first- and third-party data sets that are common to both digital and TV. Additionally, reach and frequency can be managed and optimized cross-platform. Set-top- box, SmartTV and cookie data are used to measure the reach and frequency of the audience targeted daily on both digital and TV.
These phases of cross-platform integration will take us that much closer toward breaking down the proverbial media silos and placing the audience at the center of planning and optimization. It also brings together the inherently complementary strengths of TV and digital—the broad and instantaneous reach of TV with the precision targeting of digital. And both will share in an intuitive campaign user experience with common planning and optimization data and methods that achieve the highest measured outcomes.
The demand from the advertiser and agency community is a resounding holler for greater cross-platform integration, and the fundamental technology to make that happen already exists at scale. This is an important evolution for TV to build on its current stature and retain its singularly key place at the media table.