State of the TV Buying Market? Emerging Solutions.

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In 2020-2021, we’ve seen an increase in the development of private marketplaces and programmatic guaranteed deals across Europe, but challenges today are still about securing the buyers’ investments and offering more automation in the buying process. Chris Le May and Franck Litewka unravel the state of media buying and the expectations and innovations in the field.

It’s not easy being the new kid in town. There is always the dilemma of whether to emulate your new social circle in a bid to fit in, or to maintain your quirky individualism and hope you’re cool enough to make new friends.

Many broadcasters find themselves in just that position. Some choose to fit in by adopting existing digital technology infrastructures, others decide to forge their own way, develop their own solutions and platforms, to define a new better way. No doubt in doing so, the latter can retain greater levels of control over the monetization of their inventory assets, and one might suppose, over their own futures.

There exist today two parallel ecosystems, linear TV ads and digital video ads, fighting more & more, often for the same audiences and by extension, for the same budgets. Big changes started ten years ago when linear and digital started to see their ad spend running neck-and-neck. With the high increase in demand for video on smartphones, tablets and other devices, buyers wanted to have the same standards they had to buy display inventory, meaning a more automated and faster process to get access to this inventory than via a manual process like Insertion Order (IO). That was the starting point of the emergence of programmatic buying for video ads, and it took a while to become popular at scale in Europe. But since the pandemic’s restrictions regarding direct contacts, buyers insisted on a faster buying process with more control and this further accelerated programmatic again, making it a top solution buying.

In 2020 and 2021, buoyed by the unrelenting pressure from the buyside for more automated solutions, we saw an increase in Private Market Places and the strong adoption of Programmatic Guaranteed deals all over Europe and, not only on YouTube.

In the same period, we witnessed the meteoric rise of Connected TV. This hybrid device disrupted the market by further blurring the line between traditional TV and digital budgets.

Many alternative solutions emerging

To support this evolution, broadcasters have had to rethink their programmatic strategies. They could develop their own in-house solutions or adopt established digital solutions to provide access to their inventory, while adhering to GDPR compliance and with minimal technical friction or costs.

Broadcasters and publishers have done a lot to meet demand. They started by improving access to their premium video inventory on private marketplaces. Unfortunately, this new model led by DSP and SSP wasn’t always designed specifically for video and instead of making life easier, it often became more complicated.

Buying advanced TV formats like Addressable TV, is not as simple as replicating entrenched programmatic buying techniques. It’s not the same as buying display. Indeed, it’s not even the same as buying premium video. Whatever the rationale, the emergence of new buying processes and platforms is on the rise.

SINCE THE PANDEMIC’S
RESTRICTIONS
REGARDING DIRECT
CONTACTS,
BUYERS INSISTED ON
A FASTER
BUYING PROCESS

What are advertisers looking for?

The flip side of creating independent buying solution is the increasingly high fragmentation of video ad buying. On the other side are the advertisers and their agencies. Major brands and large agency groups have been orienting themselves around preferred buy and sell side technology platforms. They have DSPs and SSPs of choice. This allows for a degree of standardisation and provides a more holistic view of their marketing investments – things can be more easily measured, compared, controlled, and optimised.

One could argue that from an advertiser’s perspective, simplicity, ease of access, scale, visibility, and complete control are all high on their list of buying requirements.

They want to be able to buy everything, everywhere in one click. Ideally augmented with exclusive first party data helping them to buy only the inventory most tailored to their needs and not have to endure greater complexity in an already convoluted advertising ecosystem.

New buying processes and the launch of user-friendly platforms

Own & Operated platforms were born of broadcasters’ frustrations at technical issues in programmatic and low control on the value chain. One of the biggest changes happened in Germany in 2018, when Pro7Sat1 and RTL Deutschland decided to deny DV360 access to their inventory in Germany. They did this mainly because of unresolved technical issues with international digital giants. In 2019, they decided to launch their O&O platform, called D-Force, to reach the whole German video market and provide access to their local first party data and ATV inventory.

In the UK, ITV, the leading commercial sales house, launched unique access to its whole inventory in 2020. This also included exclusive access to its data. The biggest difference here was that it got rid of all fees and barriers to accelerate adoption by main buyers and provided its user-friendly platform called PlanetV. Since the launch, ITV continues to attract broadcasters to join this initiative.

The French market has some interesting schemes, launched by TF1 and its own programmatic platform for linear TV inventory, OnePTV powered by TTD.

But these initiatives are not only on the broadcast side of business, some tech companies like Realitycs have also developed the first marketplace for linear TV inventory in France, available via a DSP (Xandr).

Advanced data targeting on the verge: Data Matching, clean rooms, ID’s

Much like buying a luxury car, the purchase of TV comes with a plethora of add-ons to consider. Does either party want to be able to match or augment audiences? What about leveraging the broadcasters viewing data? And if so, how?

Enter the enormous host of providers of clean rooms (solution to match different sources of 1st party data and keeping a high level of anonymity between the different parties) for secure and compliant data matching and ID solutions providers all jostling for supremacy when it comes to scale and industry adoption.

There is little doubt that these technologies are necessary if the industry is to glean maximum value from media, but they do add further complexity to an already bewildering array of components.

BUYING
ADVANCED TV
FORMATS IS NOT
AS SIMPLE AS
REPLICATING
ENTRENCHED
PROGRAMMATIC
BUYING TECHINQUES

The future of TV buying

It would be easy for some to suggest that this desire on the part of broadcasters to create closed ecosystems, “walled gardens” if you will, is born out of fear of the unknown. On the other hand, a digital native, can also appreciate that much of the legacy digital ecosystem is simply not fit for purpose when it comes to TV. It’s also worth considering the noble aim of wanting to develop solutions that will ensure they can continue to maintain the extremely high standards of consumer experience that they have upheld for decades.

It is only the starting point; the market is trying to simplify access to inventory for pure digital buyers and non-digital experts. Particularly, non-traditional or new buyers invited to work with an inventory they wouldn’t normally buy and leverage some data assets which have been too long hidden from the mainstream.

The proliferation of new platforms and technologies together with a lack of standardisation makes aggregation efforts tricky but whatever the rationale, the emergence of new buying processes and platforms is on the increase. One thing is very clear, we are in a transitionary period – this is not the end game… yet!

Franck Litewka

Franck Litewka

Head of Strategy and Development, RTL AdConnect

Chris Le May

Chris Le May

Independent Consultant

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