Locked in Transition

If you have more than one favorite TV show or broadcaster, there is a good chance you watch them on multiple platforms, across several devices even. This might not be the most convenient way to consume TV content, but it’s reality – the multi-channel approach. After all, TV is in transition. Advertisers are adapting to this landscape with their own diversified mix. This is the best strategy for the times, but it also might be a lasting strategy – because, well, what if both sides of the Linear/CTV divide dig their heels in and the TV industry stays in transition, as opposed to transitioning from one ecosystem to another? What if advertisers and media planners look at their mixed-up audience and determine that the best way to reach them is through these diversified tactics, and in seeing this way conclude that traditional and connected TV aren’t at odds at all, just different ways that work together to extend reach?

Advertisers care about what their viewers are doing, and the key behavior to watch for is cord-cutting. Cable service providers and broadcasters care, too, because their audience generates subscription revenue and drives ad rates.

A new study by simulation software company Concentric makes a convincing data-based argument that change to this complicated transitional environment isn’t coming so soon. Get used to the multi-pronged approach for reaching TV audiences. The forecast provided by Concentric’s simulation of the industry suggests that many consumers will avoid cutting the cord for the time being. Instead, bundling will prevail in the short and medium run. By 2024, the number of customers subscribing to OTT only will increase by 17 percent, in this model. Those who subscribe both to OTT and broadcast will grow, over the same five years, by 56 percent.

In developing their model, Concentric kept an eye on increased OTT service subscriptions, which doubled in 2016 and 2017. But they also see TV consumers taking the responsibility of “curating” their own content from the fragmented field. The model predicts that Linear TV options, many bundled by the consumer with other connected and streaming services, will still drive 41 percent of the market in 2024. Cable can keep their subscribers by lowering its prices, the study suggests, while OTT can continue to grow by offering more live content, like sports.

To prepare for this new normal of ambivalence, Beeswax recently announced an integration with Operative, resulting in a programmatic solution aiming at bridging the gap between traditional and connected TV.

Beeswax CEO Ari Paparo told DMN, “This integration is a little more about media companies, as they move from majority linear to a variety of ways that customers and users experience content and advertising. No one system solves all these problems…People don’t realize how many big media agencies are using DSPs (programmatic demand-side platforms). In the cross-screen world, you need it.”

He added, “The buy side is giving over budgets to traditional TV companies, but they’re actually reaching viewers on many devices. This is what used to be called audience extension, and it’s a really big part of the TV business.”

Paparo also said that for marketers to track their audience, “stitching the data together” is a challenge. “One big topic here is TV using audience data in linear. It’s moving along, but fairly early,” he explained.

On the connected side, “the data provided isn’t apples to apples” because programs inside an app may have a number of unique watchers who are untracked.

“You track impressions,” Paparo stated, “but how many unique impressions, and reach, are not easily solved problems in CTV.”

If TV people are still scratching their heads at murky viewership data, advances in identity and attribution will be necessary. Last month, global marketing tech company Tapad appointed Ajit Thupil, formerly of Oracle Data Cloud, as their first Senior Vice President of Identity, bringing “advanced identity resolution” to tech clients and brands.

Thupil told DMN, “CTV has evolved so much in the last five years, and more so in the last two. The channel is largely addressable, in the broadest strokes, but the data needs to be relevant. Part of getting to that end is that advertisers need much more accurate numbers of who’s watching what – how much should I spend on these particular programs? As these channels mature, there needs to be progress in the evolution of being able to accurately measure the audience, and what kind of message to use.”

While consumers figure out which channel is most cost-effective and convenient to watch their preferred programming, the marketer’s job to speak to and measure this audience doesn’t get any easier.

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