WHY Programmatic TV? (Part 2)

Today we are picking up where we left off in our series on Programmatic TV (PTV). In our first installment we nailed down exactly WHAT people mean when they talk about PTV, the various sellers and suppliers, types of inventory available and how this marketplace works (so far).

During all of our conversations and research on PTV we couldn’t help but wonder: isn’t this exactly what happened with the programmatic display market? That is – when programmatic rolled out for display it was all about the audience targeting capabilities.

“No need to pay top dollar for premium sites who index high for your audience in hopes that you reach some of the right people. We have a way for you to know you’re reaching your exact target and you can see performance and make adjustments in real time!”  

Fast forward about 10 years and the hottest growth areas in programmatic are Private Marketplaces and Guaranteed Deals. Why? Because everyone finally realized that context does matter. If you’re going to scale a platform you have win budget from the massive brand advertisers. Brand campaigns focus on premium, contextually relevant, transparent inventory. Bonus if you can provide a guarantee and engaging creative/experiences with high viewability and completion rates.

... But isn’t that what broadcast TV is today? Paying high prices to show up next to popular/premium shows and a GRP/TRP guarantee with high viewability on the biggest screen in the house? If that’s the case, why are we repeating the painful history of programmatic display creating markets that are narrowly focused on hitting specific audiences and disregarding the value of content and the needs of the multi-million dollar brand budget?

This is where a lot of PTV advocates will argue that PTV does not ignore the value of content. They’ll point out that you can use PTV to appear on hit shows, sold out shows and in prime time slots. But as we’ve already covered, that inventory is scarce at best, not guaranteed, and not comparable to what you get buying traditional broadcast in the upfront or spot markets. We've also heard people also say you shouldn’t replace broadcast with PTV, but use PTV as a more targeted supplement to your broadcast buy. And honestly, we still find it hard to understand how that strategy makes any sense for a few incremental GRPs (we welcome your thoughts in the comments section, though).

The last thing worth mentioning is that in the race to make everything addressable, real-time and available via one DSP - the industry has forgotten the value of mass media. And the power of mass, less targeted, media to build brands. As every digital veteran knows – just because you can measure something doesn’t mean that it’s right, or meaningful, or that it’s actually building your business. Wide, broadcast buys have repeatedly been proven to change outcomes for brands. So from that perspective, are we approaching PTV in the right way? Or are we ignoring everything we spent the last ten painful (and exciting) years learning in the display market?


Just sayin'