Screens are just a device – it’s time to view TV as a consumer experience

Mark FrainWhile media buyers struggle to redefine TV Mark Frain argues they need to start looking at it as being any screen, not just the one in a lounge room.

A few years ago, some bright minds in our industry debated a new name for television. They recognised that we’d reached a point where it was no longer helpful to continue to refer to linear TV in isolation. Plus, premium video was clearly emerging as the unifying element in the new multi-screen entertainment landscape. Many new terms have been speculated since, including OTT, AV content and all video.

We’ve stuck with the word television for now, but as our audiences no longer view content on TV sets alone, I think the merry-go-round will continue. Viewers no longer pause to consider whether they will watch their content of choice on their laptops, phones or big screen TV. TV is the consumer experience – the screen is just the device.

As TV content consumption changes, advertising must follow suit. We need to stop viewing TV ratings and bookings traditionally and start to engage with audiences in a dynamic, unified way. A way which reflects this new viewer experience and not purely on the device they’re watching. Advertisers therefore need to carefully consider the current volatility in TV audiences and inefficient methods of trading that makes it increasingly difficult to find and engage the right audience.

There is a solution to these challenges, and we believe that programmatic trading for the TV market is the first step towards maintaining the relevance of TV advertising under the new consumption models. For our own example, MCN’s private marketplace, Programmatic TV, which uses AOL’s platform, and strong data sets, allows advertisers to buy TV ads in a similar way that they would online advertising.

In order to put the consumer viewing consumption habits first, we are seeing the industry move towards buying complete multi-screen audiences in an automated fashion. As a by-product of this, advertisers are then better able to recognise the true value of the audience, potentially resulting in higher yields for content publishers.

Based on MCN’s successful trials so far, we forecast between 30 to 40 per cent of all TV spots will be traded programmatically within 18 months. Further still, we predict that programmatic will soon stop being considered as a “new” or “separate stream” of buying and selling as this results in the delivery of efficient workflow and trading benefits.

Buyers will adopt it as part of their broader buying strategy and utilise it where it makes sense. Sellers will educate and enable their sales teams to utilise programmatic trading principles to more efficiently trade with their agencies.

Like all marketplaces, however, supply and demand will continue to drive innovation in the trading of television and online inventory. The consumer today has so much choice thanks to the multiple devices at their fingertips and this type of viewing behaviour needs to be seen holistically from an advertising perspective. One where the definition of television is all encompassing ‘any screen’.

Despite its definition, either way the industry’s relationship with the audience is the primary driver and should stay as the centre pole of the merry-go-round.

  • Mark Frain is chief sales & marketing officer at MCN 

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