Dmexco 2016: The premium broadcaster adtech debate

16 Sep 2016  |  John Moulding 
Dmexco 2016: The premium broadcaster adtech debate

Holistic multi-platform TV campaign management is a reality, while programmatic barriers are breaking down, writes John Moulding

Debate attendees: John Moulding (Chair) Editor, Videonet // Marco Bertozzi, Global CRO, Performics // Jamie West, Deputy Managing Director, Sky Media // Damian Blackden, WW Chief Strategy Officer, Maxus // Stephanie Gaines, Vice President, Corporate Marketing, YuMe // Andrew Buckman, Managing Director, EMEA, OpenX // Ian Dowds, CEO, UKOM
During the first of two joint Mediatel and Videonet debates, hosted alongside this year's Dmexco, buyers including Publicis and Maxus, and the supply-side including Sky Media, discussed the benefits of gaining a truly unified view of consumers across all media, including the potentially dramatic impact of cross-screen frequency capping. They also outlined the value of programmatic and the remaining barriers to deployment.

Although itching to achieve a truly holistic view of consumers across all channels, the buy-side of the advertising industry is realistic about the challenges facing television companies when it comes to exposing their digital (online) and broadcast audiences to them either programmatically or in real-time.

During the debate, hosted on Wednesday ahead of Dmexco opening its doors, there was a consensus that everyone has to be realistic about the pace of change, and that even incremental improvement can have a profound impact.

Damian Blackden, worldwide chief strategy officer for Maxus, the global agency that is part of GroupM, highlighted the benefits that frequency control across devices can have for buyers.

Using Sky Media's Sky AdVance as a reference point for innovation in multiscreen campaign management, he noted: "It is useful to be able to attribute across screens and it is important to target across screens, and once you can control frequency across screens there is a natural advantage when it comes to reach.

"Usually, if you can control frequency you can increase reach for the same spend; not always, but usually. If you are operating across various publishers and walled gardens it is a challenge, although technologies like Sky AdVance are making everyone else raise their game. But the more someone can control their frequency across as much of the schedule as possible, that, in aggregate, has a beneficial effect."

According to Marco Bertozzi, global chief revenue officer at Performics, the performance unit for Publicis Media, frequency management across screens could reduce somebody's exposure to the same advertisement from 40 impressions to just five or 10.

"If you have not been tracking properly across devices and have multiple buckets that are not joined up, then even if you fix some of that you can probably reduce the number of ads that people see from maybe 40 down to five. That is a big step forwards."

The faster the information is available about how many times an advertisement has been seen, the better. That is one reason why programmatic systems are valuable, because they provide this information in something close to real-time so the previous exposures can be taken into account before making new purchases.

So if you have already reached the exposure limit you want for any individual consumer, you stop showing that ad to them and spend your money somewhere else.

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Jamie West, deputy managing director at Sky Media, the sales division of for Sky and an undisputed pioneer in advanced TV advertising, noted that real-time reporting on previous ad exposures is not possible on broadcast television infrastructure today.

"We have a daily panel and an alternate-day panel so there is a 24-48 hour wait for the data. The data will not be in real-time until all set-top boxes are fully connected."

Meantime, Sky will grow its panel every month beyond its current three million sample base and West revealed that ultimately the company wants its whole base [of connected set-top boxes] feeding frequency data back to buyers.

Despite the current latency in frequency data coming back from the traditional TV world, West pointed out: "You should compare and contrast where we are today and where we were yesterday," referring to the seven and 28 day delays when dealing with traditional panels.

A single view?

West highlighted how Sky AdVance contributes towards a unified view of consumers and more integrated multi-screen and TV/digital campaign management. One way marketers are using the solution is to help TV programme or channel sponsors extend reach by identifying consumers who have not been exposed to their sponsor indents and then targeting only those people online.

Another use-case is to allow big brands to drive consumers down the sales funnel with exposure to brand messages, then calls to action and then location-based messages served to mobiles. "More than anything, it gives you options and flexibility. You have the option to decide how you use TV within the wider total media mix and that has to be good for all of us," West said.

Bertozzi noted that in the digital domain, marketers have always tried to achieve the widest possible view of audiences and planning. "But there have always been big gaps, TV being one of them. A few years ago the picture was a little bleak from a buying perspective because it seemed that TV was not going to come around to the idea of a single view of the customer or programmatic.

"But a lot has changed since then and in all the different pockets - whether addressable TV or what I would call programmatic TV, we have seen massive advances in the last 2-3 years."

Bertozzi revealed that Performics has started to re-target viewers online, having seen what they have watched on linear television. "As a great example, we saw where people were watching during the Olympics on the BBC and then showed them tailored ads based on the sport they were watching."

It is worth noting that the BBC is not even a commercial broadcaster; the value in this case is in knowing what interests people rather than what ads they have already seen.

Ian Dowds, CEO of UKOM, which provides the digital measurement for the UK (across desktop, laptop and mobile), declared: "Everyone would love an entire single view across the TV/video ecosystem, from linear viewing to single-serving of long-tail publisher content to mobiles, and then across all other media."

He picked up on a theme that ran through the panel discussion, that the industry should welcome all incremental improvements rather than expect and wait for a big-bang moment. "Where we are now is much better than where we were," he said of holistic campaign management.

But he also warned: "I am not sure we will ever get a single view and should manage expectations about that. There will always be an element of walled gardens. If you are waiting for all the pieces of a massive jigsaw to be pieced together, that is not going to happen. It would help if people starting talking about incremental improvements because when the spend is so great, even small increments make a big difference."

Returning to the idea of frequency capping across screens as a powerful tool, he said: "That is incremental and if I can control frequency I can reinvest [the spend somewhere else]." Bertozzi echoed this sentiment. "If you talk to the guys at Facebook and Google they will say that we have to get over the fact that there are walled gardens," he said.

So when will we be able to ditch the 'multi-screen' prefix in multi-screen TV and start talking about 'TV' again - a single service for advertisers with one audience that just happens to be spread across different display end-points?

Programmatic barriers

Stephanie Gaines, VP corporate marketing at YuMe, the programmatic provider that supports both the demand-side and supply-side and both direct sales and programmatic demand, said: "We have to remove the idea of screen real-estate and which screen is more valuable, platform over platform. We need to focus on the consumer.

"In the US upfronts this year NBC spoke about building audiences and did not talk about ratings, while CBS were not only talking about the strength of TV but the strength of digital."

Programmatic platforms are a key technology when it comes to enabling truly holistic multi-screen and TV/digital marketing and the impact of programmatic generally was also a key theme for the debate.

The big questions were: Is programmatic working for the supply-side, what is holding back broadcasters who have not yet adopted this technology and how can the remaining barriers to adoption be broken down?

Gaines said one of the main barriers to programmatic today (for premium digital publishers/broadcasters) is, to some extent, prior experience of technology providers over-promising and under-delivering. She warned that the programmatic industry should be careful about the language it uses. Other concerns among broadcasters include protecting their inventory and to some extent have the right tools but also an understanding of programmatic.

She acknowledged that programmatic, which she describes as a tool or mechanism, is a long way from being perfect but added: "We are in a better place now. The first wave of innovation is not always the best; it is evolving and becoming more refined. We are just at the beginning and we will see more and more premium inventory [traded programmatically]."

Real-time bidding, the process of auctioning digital ad inventory in an open market, requires special attention before it will be accepted widely by the broadcast industry online (or on the set-top box). "There is a lot to be done there," Gaines said.

Scale and trust

Compliance has been one important challenge when introducing programmatic and Andrew Buckman, MD EMEA for OpenX, a supply-side vendor providing publishers with ad server, ad exchange and SSP solutions, said this depends on the control you have in place for the programmatic process.

"I don't think every broadcaster can confidently go to every technology provider and be sure that they will never see the wrong ads appearing on their site."

He highlighted scale and trust as two of the current challenges for programmatic. "The fact that Sky Media has humans checking on their programmatic delivery is a massive indicator that there is not enough trust yet that programmatic can deliver what it says is on the tin." He was referring to the revelation that Sky Media has staff checking all the ads being served programmatically into its Sky Go linear channels.

Jamie West provided a simple example of what has to be avoided. "You need to avoid having five car ads in the same break. This happened on some of our trials. He pointed out that for a subscription TV business, you have to worry about the consumer experience as well as regulatory compliance.

One of the challenges that programmatic systems must now face is dealing with viewability 'standards' that are being imposed by advertisers who will only pay for impressions when time viewed has exceeded a set threshold.

In the case of GroupM, an advertisement is only deemed 'viewable' if 50% of the ad is played (with audio) on fully visible players (after consumers pressed play). Programmatic systems are going to have to start forecasting which inventory can achieve this, or other defined thresholds, if they want to provide guaranteed buys for such advertisers.

Buckman believes that brand builders will care more about viewability than performance advertisers as they have no other immediate way to measure the impact of their advertisement. His company has been advising some clients to reduce their ad load in order to achieve higher engagement rates for the inventory that remains.

And he warns that inventory that achieves the higher viewability thresholds will not necessarily achieve a boost in CPM values.

If you have 100% viewability and only 5% of the total market inventory meets this level, it does not follow that you are going to get 20 times the price.

There will be different options for broadcasters using programmatic, from guaranteed programmatic with private marketplaces (which is already starting to dominate in online/multi-screen television) through to real-time bidding (which does have a place - and is being used by major content owners in Canada for their premium online video including sports, and by DISH Network in the U.S. for trading set-top box addressable TV inventory, as examples).

"There are different buckets," YuMe's Gaines declared. "If you are a brand you might only want to deal in a certain tier [like private marketplaces]."

On Sky Go, the multi-screen TV Everywhere service from Sky in the UK, there are lots of private marketplaces with floor prices and very little auction-based trading, West noted, before adding: "Conceptually, as a broadcaster and publisher, we are much more open now to programmatic then we were and are probably more open to it than our competitors across all our inventory. There is an industry recognition that programmatic does not necessarily mean 'cheap' or real-time bidding.

"We are working across linear TV, addressable TV and premium video, and we think about the levers we need to pull in order to transact with our customers [ad buyers] in whatever way they want. That could be direct, programmatic or real-time bidding.

"Across all media, that is what we are building towards. That does not mean we are giving inventory away or giving away our data, but it means system integration with companies like WPP or Performics. We are going to get there in a way that works for agencies and brands and publishers."

West clarified that he is not saying there is definitely a place for RTB in premium video sales. "There is an option there, where we have a choice about whether we serve this inventory in a biddable fashion."

The buy-side is keen for more programmatic in premium video, partly because the automation will streamline workflows. Maxus's Blackden said: "Everyone agrees that all media will be executed via machines pretty soon."

Another key benefit, as noted in the holistic TV/digital discussions, is the ability to achieve a more unified view of the audience. "Automation is one thing but having a system that allows agencies and brands to understand media - in our case the inventory from Sky Media - holistically, within the context of all other pieces of media, is what they want. As publishers we need to think about how we respond to this industry requirement."

Blackden agreed, but warned that you have to deal with the reality of multiple different technologies, and different places that data is found, when trying to achieve the holistic view. This includes the need to match standard global technologies used for online with the specific technologies used by broadcasters in different countries. "That is a particular challenge," he declared.

Knowledge gap

The final challenge for programmatic, agreed upon by the whole panel, is a lack of understanding when publishers, agencies and their clients are each talking to each other. As Marco Bertozzi noted, "In the swirl around programmatic over the last few years we have seen the wrong people talking to the wrong people. People ask questions that they do not understand and that means you cannot have a dialogue. Everyone has been talking different languages. That then leads to a loss of trust."

There is a skills shortage when it comes to delivering programmatic. Bertozzi added: "You talk to a sales director who has always sold TV and try to have a conversation about platform integration and that does not go anywhere. But this is improving as more and more people understand programmatic. The more people understand, and as we talk the same language, the trust will come back."

UKOM's Ian Dowds noted that this lack of mutual understanding is not entirely new, however, and he has sat in meetings where clients had no idea what an agency was telling them about BARB data and in the end just told them to "do what you need to do."

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John Moulding is the editor-in-chief of Newsline's sister publication, Videonet, and was chair of the debate.

To find out more about Mediatel Events, click here.

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