New Software Disrupts Old Way Of Buying TV Ad Time

Cox, Google, ad tech players embrace programmatic

A new advertising platform is set to inject automation into the buying of television commercials, thereby replacing the mechanics of an industry that still sells ads the old-fashioned way.

Software company clypd is launching a system that lets media partners sell commercial television space using the same tools that deliver ads online. Clypd and partners like Cox Media said this is the first step to a programmatic television future.

“We’re finally getting to the point where we have the technology and the interface to bring traditional linear TV to programmatic,” said Mike Zeigler, vp of business development at Cox. “Legacy systems are focused on scheduling 30-second spots in a traditional fashion, but now we can do it in a much more automated manner.”

Google, BrightRoll, DataXu, Accordant Media, TubeMogul, Turn, Collective and The Trade Desk will use clypd to buy commercials from television providers like Cox, which also handles inventory for DISH Network and SuddenLink.

Clypd’s new software API is trying to make programmatic TV advertising uniform for the ad tech companies to buy and the media providers to sell. 

“It’s a big moment for the industry and it’s not just about clypd, it’s about the partners we’re engaged with,” said Joshua Summers, CEO of clypd. “We have to make sure we get this right.”

Summers would not say how much ad inventory or what size audiences would be available through the new software platform. 

Television has been slow to adopt any programmatic tools, as some fear that programmatic will devalue highly coveted ad time on the most popular media properties, including the Super Bowl. If programmatic creeps in, then it could open the whole system to selling ads in auctions, just like online where the highest bidder wins, the thinking goes.

Clypd’s technology enables ad buyers to place orders and TV providers to deliver the commercials in an automated way, but it's not a real-time bidding platform for trading ad space in millions of auctions a second.

That capability isn’t impossible, but it’s still a ways off. There are plenty of technological hurdles left in television. For instance, broadcast is more limited than cable in its ability to sell through digitized channels.

The big innovation for the TV industry is to change how media planners buy audiences, Zeigler said. With programmatic buying it won’t matter what show a ad appears against but rather what household it targets. For example, a buyer places an order for a million men in their 20s, and the commercial gets shown anywhere that fits the profile.

“It runs like a meter until however many impressions get delivered,” Zeigler added.

The programmatic TV players admit there is more work to be done to get the level of data and sophistication that powers online advertising. They are trying to build the infrastructure that makes cross-screen marketing a possibility, and helps advertisers hit a consumer on a tablet or in front of a TV. Clypd’s tools are meant to help identify the right targets and track the data that measures the campaigns and how they performed.

"The world of TV and digital advertising are colliding and major players in programmatic video are investing in technology to enable cross-screen execution—but there's still a long way to go before standards, workflow and measurement allow buyers and sellers to transact across screens,” said a BrightRoll representative.

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