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Lining up the Data for Linear TV

No one can ignore the cord-cutting trend in television, as broadcasters and providers evolve their offerings, and the entire ecosystem looks to catch up with new strategies to rate and measure audiences. After the Super Bowl, CBS revised its number of viewers, using a Nielsen metric that piled on an additional 12 million sports fans who weren’t counted in the original tally because they were watching the game at a friend’s place. Meanwhile, one of the last holdouts in the premium movie space, Epix, finally launched its OTT streaming app.

Despite this movement toward à la carte, streaming content, cable subscribers and advertisers remain invested in linear TV because the OTT/CTV future hasn’t consolidated. For today, many viewers are willing to pay more so that they don’t have to chase after a specific favorite program, or figure out whether they are even able to watch it or not without a cable subscription code. On the advertising side, advances in measurement and automation keep the incentives high for media agencies to buy inventory within the linear TV market in the short run.

The tension that TV watchers sense when deciding to cut the cord or not resonates through marketers and content providers who’s job it is to reach them, to find them where they are.

In 2014, Cox Media Group founded Videa as an online marketplace tailored to the specific needs of buyers and sellers in linear TV. From Videa’s perspective, there is big growth expected in programmatic TV spending, while a sizeable TV audience continues to watch TV in a classic, linear fashion. According to Videa’s numbers, total U.S. programmatic TV spend, at $1 billion in 2016, will climb to $14 billion by 2021, accounting for 11 to 15 percent of agency budgets. Their supply-side partnerships include over 580 stations with annual revenues of $6 to $7 billion.

On the demand side, the Videa platform, according to their numbers, has executed over 8,600 orders across 70-plus unique partners, with a maximum single order size of $1.4 million. What’s most encouraging within the ecosystem is the total adoption by key partners, once Videa gets them onboard. Media agencies like Carat, Zenith and Starcom use Videa for 100 percent of their spot buys. A contributing factor to this success is Videa’s incorporation of demand-side friendly integration with FreeWheel (Strata) and Mediaocean, providing access to some 1,100 agencies who use these buy-and-sell exchanges.

As long as consumers remain rooted to one-stop linear TV for local, live programming, Videa is making it attractive for supply and demand sides to grow in the present circumstances. Looking beyond how audiences prefer to consume content, another major selling point from the OTT/CTV perspective is the ability to measure audience engagement in real time. The approximate forecasting of viewership provided by linear TV ratings may have worked in the past, but is too imprecise now. Why guess about the future when you can measure what you have today?

Videa addresses this concern about measurability through its recent addition of Comscore TV data, to make programmatic buying and selling more informed.

“With our platform and partnerships like Comscore data, there is a need being solved, and agencies have the opportunity to buy this at scale,” explained Shereta Williams, President of Videa.

“There are several avenues through which Videa can leverage Comscore data in the future that we’re eager to implement,” she said. “For now, we’d just say that partnerships like Comscore are so important to Videa’s long-term success because they help us navigate the shifting sands of a constantly evolving TV landscape.”

Automated spot TV buying is provided with in-flight stewardship through Campaign Performance reporting, which, with the Comscore data, allows buyers and sellers to view insights at the spot level by market or station.

These offerings make linear TV an attractive player, if the point is to reach viewers where they currently are watching.

“I have a firm belief that TV is heading toward a more multi-platform solution,” Williams stated. “If I’m a buyer, I want to buy all the impressions around. I think we’re laying the foundation on the linear side to allow impressions from linear and digital to be bought simultaneously.”

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