How programmatic is putting planners and buyers on the same page

by Walt Horstman, President, AudienceXpress

At most media agencies, traditional TV planning and buying are separate and distinct functions. This is largely due to the long-term planned nature of TV. Planners look out over the long-term horizon and bridge the marketing strategy with all the research information available to make key decisions on media channels, media mix, flighting, and the like. Buyers execute the media plan as best they can based on the marketing budget, changing prices in the market, inventory availability, and shifts in viewership.

With the rise of programmatic TV and its advanced tech, planning and buying become one. Programmatic brings value to the TV ecosystem by using data to find audiences in TV inventory that were previously underutilized. Programmatic TV tech allows TV to be planned, optimized, and measured in near real-time using the audience data for advanced targeting. The tech brings the same agility and measurability to TV as already exists in digital.  As soon as a programmatic TV campaign is planned, it can be bought and executed — programmatic TV fundamentally marries traditional TV planning and buying. This marriage ultimately yields better business outcomes from TV advertising and increases the value of its inventory.

Planners and buyers in TV have a unique and challenging job because TV is a supply constrained market. The planning team must make choices today about events three or four quarters into the future so that the buying team can secure the inventory and prevent any surprises down the road. But making decisions today about where audiences can be found several months into the future is a tall order. It places very high expectations on both planners and buyers to predict and deliver the targeted audience with accuracy. And the goals of the planning team and buying team can often become misaligned.

Programmatic TV and its associated technology bring together the planning and buying function to deliver the targeted audience with precision. In much the same way as digital, automated platforms allow the planner/buyer to build AND execute a TV campaign simultaneously. The TV audience data and inventory availability are combined into a common platform so that tradeoffs of audience composition, reach, budget and pricing objectives can be executed simultaneously. And as the audience migrates from one environment to the next throughout the campaign, the automated systems follow the audience and optimize accordingly. Programmatic TV platforms therefore reduce the uncertainty for the planner/buyer of achieving the campaign’s audience delivery targets. This creates a specific harmony.

Bringing together planning and buying with advanced data and automation yields much better results for agencies and their advertisers as well as inventory providers. Precision delivery of a campaign’s targets ensures that inventory is used effectively. But there is still much more to do.   The most sophisticated platforms and predictive algorithms cannot anticipate long-term audience viewership shifts or the effects of supply and demand on pricing into next year. TV is still a very supply-constrained market as we are seeing in this year’s upfront. As such, agencies and TV inventory providers will continue to enter into commitments through the upfronts to ensure that inventory is available several months into the future. But the union of planning and buying with programmatic will help find and target those audiences optimally in the future and make sure that all stakeholders share in the benefits.

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