A (former) TV buyer’s perspective on Programmatic TV


In my previous role as a TV Buyer, the two buzzwords that inevitably circulated around our office on a near daily basis were “programmatic” and “addressable.” However, the biggest struggle faced by our video investment teams with regards to these buzzwords was understanding how these terms relate to TV. Were they even applicable to the world of television? If so, how could we as TV buyers best convey programmatic’s TV-specific benefits to advertisers?

TV’s official measurement benchmark has historically been the number of GRPs (gross rating points) captured within a target demographic. In 2017, pushing advertisers beyond the narrow view of age and gender as sole qualifiers is needed. However, that requires education on the part of the advertiser with regards to the benefits of audience-based targeting. And even if advertisers do express interest in learning more about audience-based targeting, they will more than likely ask the following question: “How do we measure against our core demo?”

The answer is simple but perhaps unwelcome: you don’t. In an ideal world, advertiser investments should be focused more on targeted approaches (programmatic and addressable) than on traditional linear buying. Yet going cold-turkey on linear tomorrow is unlikely for most brands. TV is used by most advertisers as a reach/awareness vehicle and is considered highly effective. So one viable first step towards testing the waters could be adding in programmatic and addressable to an existing mix and moving forward with a blend of both. Advertisers will immediately reaps the benefits of an improvement in targeting, and a combination mix is likely a more realistic starting point for most brands.

Programmatic buying within the realm of digital media has evolved into the industry standard due to proven performance and efficiencies. Dollar allocations towards programmatic come from the advertisers’ digital buckets, which still typically remain completely separate from television budgets. TV budgets traditionally hold the lion’s share of the overall budget for many advertisers; however, advertisers have been reluctant thus far to leverage programmatic tactics on their TV dollars. The onus is on programmatic providers to demonstrate that programmatic and addressable deliver value within the TV ad space as well.

A final barrier to programmatic adoption on the TV side materializes in the strict divide between digital and TV teams on the advertiser side that is (unfortunately) the norm. The digital team typically has different KPIs, tactics and even uses a different general language than the TV side. This divide makes it challenging for traditional digital sellers or vendors to pitch programmatic and addressable offerings to TV buyers. More impactful and successful partnerships will occur when sellers and vendors are well versed in both the technology as well as the overall TV marketplace and its needs.

At DataXu, we view it as our job to take our extensive experience in programmatic and translate it into easy-to-understand benefits of programmatic/addressable offerings specifically relevant to TV buyers and their needs. The same goes for advertisers. We are committed to making marketing better for all, and TV buying represents the next logical step on our journey towards helping make consumer ads more relevant and effective than ever before.

Rapid Rise Programmatic Television White Paper