Apple TV: the ‘game changer’ for the global TV advertising industry

Lee StephensThe re-launch of the Apple TV is a game changer for the global TV advertising industry argues Lee Stephens

There have been a mountain of articles following last week’s Apple Worldwide Developers Conference announcements. Yet one of the least talked about innovations is a game changer for the global TV advertising industry.

In between iPhone announcements the conference took the time to re-launch the company’s underrated Apple TV. Tim Cook led the conversation by saying, “Our vision for TV is simple and perhaps a little provocative. We believe the future of television is apps.”

Apple TV In a nutshell the highlights were:

1. The set-top box is bigger

2. The remote is sexier

3. Siri can now be accessed via Apple TV

And now the important ones:

4. Apple TV will be open to third party apps through the App store

5. Universal and ‘proactive’ search will be enabled across Apple TV Those two innocent announcements just created one of the largest programmatic TV networks in the world.

For the first time, companies can create compelling content for millions of Apple TV units plugged into lounge rooms around the world. Once consumers are within a third party App, they can be served TV advertising based on whatever targeting Apple chooses to release.

The Apple TV audience is compelling. They are wealthy, tech-savvy early adopters. They are families that are heavy TV viewers, but not necessarily commercial TV viewers. They have their credit cards already active through Apple TV at the click of a button.

In essence, Apple TV advertising is programmatic gold. How Apple TV regulates advertising within third Party Apps is still unknown.

iPhone App advertising is regulated only around its’ position on the screen. Other than that, App owners are free to sell advertising directly or through exchanges. A similar approach to advertising on Apple TV Apps is likely.

The move is positive for content creators who need to find additional ways to monetize expensive video content produced for websites. It’s also good news for non-TV publishers who develop video content but are unable to access high reach channels to engage consumers.

Imagine an Apple TV App for Fairfax’s Domain with a virtual walk through of the latest properties you are searching. From the personal experience of a mobile App, content is opened up for viewing and interaction with the entire family.

TV networks should watch this space very carefully. It opens up a new front in programmatic TV buying that is going to accelerate the transition to automated media trading.

It also risks lowering catch-up TV media rates as more video content (good and bad) is accessed via the big screen. If handled well, FTA TV operators can flourish within the Apple TV environment as quality content remains expensive to create at scale.

However, now is not the time for TV networks to procrastinate. If the cost of producing quality content is the only barrier, there are plenty of well-funded competitors to threaten their future.

One thing is certain–the industry is going to follow Apple TV’s lead into a TV environment that is fully controlled by the user.

Lee Stephens is the CEO of Switch Digital


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