The enduring appeal of traditional linear TV to national advertisers has lulled many sellers into a false sense of security—and no small amount of denial about the headwinds they face.
Meanwhile, the facts on the ground are hard to argue with. TV audiences are shifting to new platforms, many of which aren’t ad-supported. And while ratings for tentpole events like the Super Bowl and “The Bachelor” finale are reliably huge, viewership of broadcast TV overall is in decline. According to the Nielsen ratings for 2018-19, broadcast networks averaged 28.5 million viewers in primetime, a 20% decline since 2014-15, and the 35% drop-off among adults 18-49 was even steeper.
Amid the ongoing erosion of traditional linear audiences, sellers need to embrace the idea of their business becoming more audience-driven. When deploying new platforms for linear distribution, such as VOD services, they need to think about how to aggregate and package audiences across platforms to give buyers the reach they want. The focus should be on ensuring that each platform becomes part of an integrated whole instead of a silo, and that’s only feasible when data is harnessed and data science is applied.
Here are three common mistakes sellers may be making with their traditional linear business—and how to course-correct:
1. Not using your available data to inform pricing and planning decisions
Sellers have massive troves of historical pricing and sales data, which can be transformed into actionable information to improve forecasting, pricing and inventory management decisions. But relatively few organizations have made their data conveniently accessible by investing in solutions that extract data and then scrub, cleanse and process it to allow non-technical users to receive information from the data ocean without help from their IT department.
Sellers should implement a data warehouse to ensure that the data already under their roof can be used to provide answers to hard questions.
2. Not investing in enterprise-level software and infrastructure
The quest to reach increasingly fragmented and diverse viewers has led marketers to use an expanding array of new media types, which attempt to narrow-cast to fine-grained audience segments. This in turn has created an expanding “LUMAscape” of marketing technology to support transacting in new media. But instead of allowing buyers and sellers to transact “across platforms” in easy and harmonious ways, the business silos persist and become even more entrenched.
Sellers should invest in enterprise software that harmonizes data and leverages data science to inform decision-making on pricing and inventory management across media types.
3. Failing to cross-pollinate talent
Seller organizations still tend to have separate linear and digital teams. This has become a point of weakness—especially as linear and audience-based businesses continue to converge and as sellers and buyers want a more seamless cross-media transaction experience.
Digital natives should be cross-trained and inserted into working on your linear business, and vice versa. This will empower your teams to speak fluently to advertisers and buyers about traditional TV tenets like reach and frequency, as well as performance-driven metrics and ROI. It will also encourage a solid understanding of the systems and processes that have been implemented to support each line of business, which may inspire ideas about how to better integrate and simplify cross-platform activities.
Sellers should organize their teams to straddle digital and traditional TV operations.