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What Marketers Need to Know About Programmatic Linear TV Advertising

programmatic linear TV

Because it’s so new to many, there’s a lot of confusion around programmatic linear TV advertising in the marketplace. To clear things up, we asked Mike Zinsmeister, executive vice president and chief revenue officer at our partner WideOrbit, to explain what today’s marketers need to understand about buying television ads programmatically.

First, it’s important to first define programmatic, because it means different things for different mediums. For digital, programmatic often means real-time bidding on what is, effectively, infinite inventory. For linear TV programmatic, buyers are competing for limited inventory, so it’s less about finding any impressions, and instead about securing the best inventory for a client, in the most efficient way.

The biggest challenge associated with local TV’s premium, fraud-free, geo-targeted inventory is simply the time historically required to transact it. Realistically, the time and expense required to transact TV is significant, and compared to easy-access mediums like digital, its broad reach, effectiveness and overall value are diminished when weighed against those transactional costs.

What programmatic really offers is workflow automation. It makes it faster, easier and more transparent to transact linear TV. The entire process, from negotiation to order reporting, is accomplished in a fraction of the time.

If marketers understand the immense value that linear TV offers, and if the industry helps by automating the transactional process to improve efficiencies and reduce discrepancies, we’ll enable more effective, balanced campaigns that leverage the unique strengths of both linear and digital mediums.

Basically, then, the three biggest benefits of programmatic for marketers are:

Accessibility: Historically, to purchase valuable and effective linear TV inventory, a buyer needed specific buying systems and a deep understanding of the approach to avail requests, negotiations, stewardship and posting processes. The complexity of that buying process created a barrier to entry for many brands. Our programmatic platforms have effectively helped eliminate those barriers, both by automating the process and through integrations with agency buying systems and DSP’s such as Viant’s Adelphic, making TV accessible to new brands and marketers.

Targeting: The concept of broadcast, or one message to many people, has always been an efficient way to reach a wide audience, for a reasonable cost. However, it has also typically lacked the ability to compete for the addressable buys enabled by digital, (albeit at a much higher cost). That has changed since we now offer tools that allow a buyer to find a middle ground via targeted advertising, using data to determine which programs are best suited for their brands, indexing at or well above the average and providing a more cost-effective buy than was previously possible.

Attribution: The reporting piece is the next thing marketers will see tremendous value from. Programmatic provides specific data that increases the value of TV to buyers, not only in the planning phase but to gauge effectiveness throughout the campaign. We provide data the same day a spot runs, so marketers can correlate when the ad ran with the sales or clicks that resulted, allowing them to evaluate a campaign’s performance in-flight. This allows them to better assign “credit,” or attribution, for the results each medium drives, regardless of where the ultimate sale happens.

To learn more about the kinds of brands and agencies that can benefit from leveraging programmatic linear TV, click here to read our full Q&A with Mike Zinsmeister

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