As the TV industry starts to take its first tentative steps into the programmatic world, LiveRail are one of the companies helping them make the transition. However, the average broadcaster’s requirements are often different to those of their online counterparts. Here Yoav Arnstein, General Manager for LiveRail in EMEA explains how the TV world perceives programmatic advertising, the future of connected TV and the targeting capabilities of the new platforms.
What is LiveRail bringing to the market in terms of programmatic TV?
For several years now, we have been helping guide premium publishers, including many broadcasters, as they adopt programmatic. Working closely with the likes of A&E, MLB.com, and CBS, has played a big role in our product development. We’ve gotten a lot of valuable insight into the type of controls and capabilities that are most important to broadcasters and been able to shape our product accordingly.
We have also been involved with dynamic ad insertion (DAI) for a few years now. As VOD viewing continues to increase, so does emphasis on dynamic ad insertion, as it creates new revenue opportunities for broadcasters. Today, we are integrated with the leading DAI vendors in such a way that makes connecting the LiveRail programmatic platform to any VAST-enabled video stream, quite easy.
Will programmatic TV be confined to IP-delivered content or can we make it work on traditional broadcast too?
I do think it can work on traditional broadcast, although my assumption is that by the time programmatic TV is widely adopted, majority of TV consumption will take place via IP-enabled devices. From a technological standpoint however, majority of the tools available today for linear TV programmatic are media planning tools for agencies to be able to forecast ad availability numbers and audience demo data.
Overall, I don’t think it’s technology, or specifically the lack of IP connectivity, that is the issue. The matter is whether targeted TV advertising, fueled by user level data, can push overall revenues upwards for broadcaster. Another interesting thing to watch will be the amount of pressure that brands will put on broadcasters to change their TV products due to increasingly fragmented consumption. The determining factor will be the commercial benefits gained from allowing targeted TV ads versus the risk associated with changing the current model for selling TV advertising.
It will also be interesting to see whether programmatic will be adopted as a way to handle TV consumption spikes, (in the same way it helps Internet publishers today). We are already seeing some broadcasters starting to think of programmatic platforms as a monetization tool for unexpected consumption.
One of the big issues on connected TV has been platform fragmentation. Has this been a help or a hindrance to LiveRail?
I think when it comes to connected TV, we are still in the early days. Obviously platform fragmentation is never helpful, however, I don’t feel this is currently our main obstacle. A lot of it boils down to the size of the organisations and the revenues at stake. Within large traditional broadcasters, we typically see very advanced digital thinkers, but at the same time, they have a lot at stake, causing them to take a more cautious approach when it comes to programmatic.
How is the TV industry responding to the rise of programmatic media? Has there been a shift?
There has definitely been a sizeable shift with platforms that are already connected. Desktop and mobile are being enabled with programmatic tools, both in the US and in EMEA. At LiveRail, we’ve taken a unique, consultative approach when working with broadcasters. A lot of broadcasters are now deploying or starting to deploy programmatic solutions.
We also see broadcasters starting to plan for the introduction of programmatic on other platforms. However, we must remember that unlike in the world of display, where programmatic helped accelerate growth and create efficiencies, TV advertising is already a very scalable business. As such, their venture into programmatic will be driven by other factors.
Lastly, we will need to bridge a potential gap in expectations. Digital agency trading desks sometimes see programmatic buying as an efficient method for accessing relevant audiences at cost efficient price points. Broadcasters on the other hand, expect programmatic, data driven access to inventory to increase yield that will surpass that of traditional TV sales. It will be interesting to see if there will be a price point that will work for everyone while generating scale.
Will connected TV ever be a match for desktop video when it comes to data and targeting?
From the broadcaster standpoint, yes. Unless behind a paywall, desktop and mobile consumption can leave broadcasters with little unique consumer data to leverage. Connected devices on the other hand, assuming consumption is in an environment controlled by the broadcaster, put the content owner back in control.
Let’s also remember that for now, desktop consumption is still associated, by some brands, with questions regarding consumer attention to advertising, viewability, and even fraud. Connected TVs, for the time being, are perceived to be protected from these issues.
Overall, connected TV can provide a rich data set that presents new opportunities for advanced targeting capabilities, personalization, and brand engagement. In fact, research shows that majority of consumers would engage or would consider engaging with a smart TV ad if it is advertising a product or brand they’re interested in. I think the industry has really only just begun to scratch the surface in regards to the potential of connected TV advertising and that we will see savvy, data-driven marketers embracing and experiencing great success with this new format over the next several years.