The TV Advertising Landscape Is Changing Just as Quickly as Our Viewing Habits

By Adam Flomenbaum 

While most of the recent TV news has, rightfully so, surrounded over-the-top and unbundling changes, equally as compelling are the advances in the programmatic buying and selling of TV advertising and cross-platform targeting.

Google Fiber in Kansas City recently began experimenting with addressable ads; Scripps has begun executing programmatic buys for its owned stations; ESPN also recently sold a slot programmatically for the first time.

Retargeting, especially across devices, is perhaps even more difficult of a problem to solve than programmatic is. AdRoll, one of the leading retargeting companies, has been investing into new technology and platforms to address both programmatic and cross-device targeting as they relate to TV.

For more on the changing TV advertising and targeting landscape, we spoke with AdRoll President and CMO, Founding Team, Adam Berke:

LostRemote: One of the most challenging aspects about TV second screen advertising is cross-device attribution and targeting. What’s the solution for this?

Adam Berke: I don’t think there is any silver bullet solution when it comes to advertising measurement and attribution. Cross-device attribution is a hard problem. There are so many different platforms, devices, and systems that make measurement of it imperfect at best. But marketing has never been an exact science. With the data that we do have, we can glean deep insights and learnings. Marketers today are better informed than ever before, the trick is putting together frameworks for decision making to avoid analysis paralysis. Speed matters in marketing.

LR: TV networks are quickly embracing programmatic ad selling – what impact do you see this having on the TV industry in the coming years?

Berke: I don’t know if TV networks are embracing it as quickly as there is demand from programmatic buyers. The obvious threat is that people are watching video outside of TV networks on platforms like YouTube, Hulu, Twitch and Facebook. That audience is growing much faster than television networks are adopting programmatic buying.

LR: More and more people are using mobile devices and PCs while watching TV, limiting the efficacy of TV ad buying. What’s the argument for brands to continue buying on linear, and how can they reinforce their message on digital?

Berke: Buyers who like TV have bought it the same way for years and years. They have enough experience where the process and results are predictable enough, if not as precise and accountable as they could be. The challenge is that the audience continues to migrate to other platforms and methods of content consumption are evolving rapidly.

The technology to buy digital advertising is complex and continues to only get more complex. Complexity and education are the two big barrier for advertisers who want to reinforce their message on digital. We think there is a big opportunity to improve the UX of ad buying tools and educate marketers as they migrate to digital.

LR: AdRoll is a leading retargeting company. What may be surprising about how audiences behave based on the device they are being retargeted on?

Berke: We consistently see that people shop around on mobile, but they are still more comfortable buying on a PC. All the metrics we have support this hypothesis. We see high CTRs and CPCs on mobile devices, but the CPAs still lag. For desktop first businesses, mobile represents a crucial mid-stage touch point, but usually doesn’t win the last touch attribution credit. This may change with better integration of payment options, new mobile devices with larger screens, and people just getting more comfortable with mobile commerce over time.

LR: Why did it take so long for networks to embrace over-the-top and TV Everywhere offerings, and what’s the biggest opportunity here for how they can monetize?

Berke: Inertia. They had a great business. There are not a lot of examples of established industries adapting to disruptive technologies quickly. But, the networks are better positioned than the cable companies. Cable companies have struggled to become more than a dumb pipe, and regulation will only make that business more challenging.

Similar to what we saw with newspapers and websites, the traditional networks that will succeed will be the ones that understand the value of their audience and first party data beyond just their owned and operated ad inventory.