At Furious, we focus on helping TV sellers maximize the yield of their advertising portfolios. We’d like to unpack that concept for people who are more familiar with portfolio optimization in the context of finance.
Topics: Inventory Management
Notwithstanding the fact that 80 to 90% of linear TV sellers’ revenue still comes from traditional, Nielsen-measured television, the ecosystem of TV advertising is looking more and more like the digital LUMAscape. That’s because an ever-increasing number of data and technology providers are in the mix as sellers ramp up their addressable businesses.
Meanwhile, digital metrics have pervaded the TV landscape, making it difficult to hear the signal through the noise of possible ways to measure, buy and sell.
Living within sight of the Atlantic Ocean, nautical symbols are near and dear to me. Whales, dolphins, anchors and mermaids are all warm and evocative symbols of my beloved seaside community, but during these past few weeks, the lighthouse has become especially meaningful. It’s an enduring symbol that has transcended nautical significance to represent guidance, strength and hope. It illuminates the darkest waters and brings us safely to port.
Changing audience behaviors and the infusion of data on both sides of the value chain are forcing programmers and distributors to evolve from pure content creators and infrastructure owners into technology companies, like it or not.
These companies are making tech investments that would have been unheard of a decade ago. Take NBCUniversal, which is betting big on its own streaming service instead of letting Netflix own the audience for beloved shows like “Friends” and “The Office” indefinitely. Or Dish and Sling, which launched their own vMVPDs to distribute live and on-demand linear TV over the internet.
Though advertisers still tend to view TV as a medium for mass reach, investment in systems that can target specific households is growing, with addressable TV ad spend projected to reach $3.37 billion in 2020, according to eMarketer. That’s a drop in the bucket when you consider how much is spent annually on TV advertising, but a stunning amount given addressable started from zero not long ago.
Scale is still limited, but the growth curve for data-driven TV ad products is unmistakable. It’s now possible to deliver household-specific ads to 64 million U.S. homes, though only for a small percentage of linear inventory.
A decade ago, if you wanted to watch TV at home, your options for getting it onto your screen were limited. Annoyingly, you had to rely on your local cable or satellite provider to come to your home and install a set-top box. Streaming options were starting to come onto the scene, but most of the programming people cared about wasn’t available there.
When you examine how television advertising is bought and sold, it’s striking how many of the systems — and players — first became relevant when TV emerged as a dominant medium in the 1950s yet persist today.
Take the Gross Rating Point (GRP), which is still the prevailing metric for traditional TV advertising impact even though advertisers gripe about its limitations — specifically, the fact that it’s a calculation of reach, not performance. Or Nielsen, which has been the dominant provider of TV measurement for more than six decades and is now competing against Comscore, a company rooted in digital, to establish viable metrics for cross-platform viewing.
The Business of TV & Video Advertising, Explained
TV advertising once represented a world unto itself, distinct from other media channels. Audiences sat in front of their TV sets and watched programming at scheduled times. Commercials were sold by national broadcasters, local affiliates, cable networks, and distributors, usually on a GRP basis. Advertisers were content to leverage TV for reach — without drilling down into who exactly they were reaching. The vocabulary of TV advertising was insular and consistent.
As you know, that train has left the station.
image credit: D3Damon / istockphoto.com
Between 1950 and 1970, the Big Three networks (namely CBS, NBC and ABC) accounted for 95% of primetime viewing, and the transaction layer of TV advertising was relatively simple. For the most part, you had only networks, agencies and brand marketers in the mix, not layer upon layer of intermediaries as we have now.
It might surprise you to hear that most linear TV sellers are still driving 80% to 90% of their topline revenue from traditional, Nielsen-measured TV. While the future of TV is surely audience-driven, data-heavy and technology-enabled, it’s coming at us in slow motion. Rome is falling but only one brick at a time.