Apple and Comcast are rumored to be cutting a deal that would send a mix of live TV and on-demand video through an Apple set-top box. That’s just the latest in a series of partnerships or acquisitions that could someday let advertisers buy, traffic and analyze online video and TV content together. A look at how agencies and digital vendores are preparing for the TV-Video Convergence.
Nielsen is partnering with Videology to use data to help TV advertisers target young audiences that are watching more digital channels. Comcast bought FreeWheel. And Adap.tv, owned by AOL, launched a programmatic TV buying platform, which it says lets advertisers use data to buy the same audiences online and on TV.
This is clearly the path we’re heading down: to make video buying more seamless, efficient, and data-driven
“This is clearly the path we’re heading down: to make video buying more seamless, efficient, and data-driven. It’s all video buying. We want to use data to inform buying video wherever we’re buying it,” says Marla Skiko, EVP and director of digital innovation for SMG Multicultural.
How close are we to true convergence of the buying process? Not all that close: These deals are about helping TV content owners target ads in the digital world. There is technology and business challenges to work through for brands, agencies, content creators and vendors alike before digital and TV will become apples and apples.
Could DSPs buy TV spots?
SMG, part of the Publicis Group, has access to sister agency VivaKi’s Audience on Demand platform. Skiko says, “They are running hard against trying to buy TV on the platform. It started with display and then folded in social.” She thinks that eventually, anything that can be bought programmatically will be –including TV.
She says that tools like comScore validated Campaign Essentials and Nielsen Campaign Rating already let advertisers talk about online video and TV in the same way, albeit through the TV focus. When placing a GRP focus on digital video, she says, “If you want to buy Hispanic 18 to 49, let’s look at what you actually got of that demographic that you were trying to reach. All of it is still bought on the CPM basis, its’ the nature of talking about the reach and frequency dynamic.”
One of the common criticisms of Nielsen’s and comScore’s audience tools, she adds is, “It’s awesome in the verification but not in the planning phase.” DSPs still need to use their own data together with third-party sources to plan campaigns.
Some agencies — including SMG Multicultural — already are converging their TV and digital video teams for planning and buying.
Some agencies — including SMG Multicultural — already are converging their TV and digital video teams for planning and buying. Sometimes, this is easier for smaller agencies. Says Mark Dominiak, media strategist PACO, a multicultural agency that handles digital, TV and social media, “At our agency, it’s small enough to where we don’t have the luxury of a department. We have a small group of people who serve all the media goals of the agency. When you have people who are working on all facets, it works to your advantage. There’s no siloing.”
Analytics — the lack of common metrics between broadcast and digital channels — could be the biggest barrier to converged buying. Says Jeremy Helfand, vice president of video monetization at Adobe, “What is the common currency I can transact across all channels? A lot of our customers are using Adobe Analytics to understand the, digital audience but ultimately market needs to go to a true cross-platform currency to allow dollars to flow freely across wherever the audiences are. The consumers are not different between the TV screen and the screen in their hands, so how can we truly monetize that experience across those various channels in an easier way?”
Adobe recently introduced a major upgrade to Adobe Marketing Cloud that converges six products, including Adobe Analytics. Adobe Primetime, the sell-side platform that lets broadcasters package TV content for digital distribution, can take advantage of customer data in the analytics product to target advertising delivered with video content via Primetime. But there’s no way within the product suite to combine this with GRP data from Nielsen. Ashley Still, director of product management for Primetime, says companies could “try” to do this internally.
An agency like us, we almost never talk about how many rating points you are delivering. It’s about, how well does the buy you manufactured serve your marketing objective?
It might behoove agencies to focus less on trying to match gross rating points to CPMs, anyway. Says Dominiak, “An agency like us, we almost never talk about how many rating points you are delivering. It’s about, how well does the buy you manufactured serve your marketing objective? GRPs and impressions are an output you look at but are not critical to deciding if this is a good plan.”
Beyond the data plays of Adobe, Comcast and others lies a deeper question for Hispanic marketers, Skiko says. “Our ideal goal would be to rely on first-party data as much as possible.” That could be derived from a tracked visit to a Spanish-language website, search in Spanish or from a data partner. However, she says, “We need more at scale. Creating pools of first-party data is helpful to enable some of these platforms. When Nielsen or AOL makes an announcement, one of the first questions we want to ask is, ‘Have you thought about how to enable this for multicultural audiences?”
In other words, while the convergence of TV and digital ads is a blip on the horizon, Hispanic marketers have an even longer journey to get there.
No pricing convergence
Even if the metrics and analytics problems get worked out, no one sees the prices of video ads and TV spots converging. But that does not mean that online video will be cheaper than broadcast. Already, we’re seeing some high-value online video reaping higher rates than TV scatter ads — although it’s hard to compare due to the different pricing and metrics.
Increasingly, broadcasters are selling digital as part of their upfronts. For example, NBC offered a huge digital component for the Sochi Olympics, with a website and three different apps that offered a mix of live streaming of TV, video clips, news and custom content.
According to Julie De Traglia, SVP, digital and broadcast marketing research for NBCUniversal, Sochi Olympics broadcast and video ads were sold as a package, and this will be increasingly the case for premium content that’s delivered across channels. “Advertisers buy multiplatform,” she says.
This kind of packaging, to some extent, obviates the need for convergence of TV and video within DSPs and analytics programs — especially while the demand for premium video outstrips the supply, especially in the Hispanic market. Adds Skiko, “Some video may be on parity with television, depends on how the deal is made. And there shouldn’t be a distinction. We have video buyers and we are about to enter another video upfront. You won’t talk about the TV Upfronts anymore.”