The television industry needs to stop the intra-ecosystem bickering that is obstructing the roll-out of addressable TV advertising and get the technology deployed at scale, with broadcasters and platform owners working together to give advertisers easy access to targeted inventory across large country footprints. That was the message from Irwin Gotlieb, Chairman of GroupM Global, when he addressed Future TV Advertising Forum in London last week. He made it clear that even the best broadcasters with the best audiences and programmes will lose out within three years if they deny advertisers what they want.
“We need to put the bickering to the side and start delivering the goods that technology now allows TV to provide. There are markets like the U.S. where channel owners do not own the distribution infrastructure, relying on the MVPDs [multichannel video programming distributors] and the relationship is adversarial, to put it kindly. Because they are constantly negotiating rights they don’t like each other very much – there is distrust and that is obstructing progress when it comes to addressable TV.
“We have to put this petty nonsense to the side and take advantage of the capabilities of the medium for the benefit of our clients, who rely on this medium heavily, and for the benefit of our entire business and, quite frankly, for the benefit of consumers who will see less irrelevant marketing content and will probably appreciate that.”
So what is the vision – for GroupM to have access to every piece of advertising inventory on every channel carried by every platform operator, with those operators working together to create a national footprint for addressability? “That would be really nice…and we would settle for half of that,” he told the London audience. I would settle for baby-steps.”
The GroupM chairman says media, data and technology have already converged but legacy TV players are not in a particularly strong position in either data or technology. “We are looking at a world where all data comes in at census level and where we intend to have attribution analytics at census level or near-census level. I don’t think TV in its current structure can provide those things with any effect.”
He also highlighted a data management skills shortage. An important first step – though more than a baby-step – towards better data management would be to start harnessing set-top box viewing data. Channel owners should be looking for ways to use this.
Broadcasters should not be looking to differentiate themselves through ad tech and by selling data-driven audiences, but through their content, Gotlieb declared. That means they can help to avoid walled gardens without giving up any of their differentiation. He is not interested in data-driven audiences that are in channel-specific siloes.
“We aggregate reach, not only across all broadcast channels but across all media categories. I cannot deal with individual vendor siloes where someone comes up with a targeting scheme for one channel. I need to de-duplicate across channels and aggregate reach properly and professionally. Inventory siloes are pretty much a non-starter for me, and I think anyone else in my position in this industry would agree with that view.”
Gotlieb believes addressable TV advertising can attract new money into television at the expense of trade support budgets (like in-store retail displays). This is because it gives TV a role further down the marketing funnel (beyond brand awareness and into consideration, purchase and even transactions). Trade support currently takes three-quarters of total marketing budget. “Two television channels in this market look at each other and say ‘You are my competitor’. No: someone else is eating their lunch already.”
TV companies could lose spend to new media players if they do not get this transition right, Gotlieb implied. “Nobody should take comfort from their current position. Everyone needs to evolve at a healthy pace and we have seen too much obstruction so far. We need to get on with it.”
So three years from now, will GroupM favour a broadcaster that provides easy access (like programmatic) to addressable-enabled inventory over another broadcaster that fights against these developments, but which still has great content and audiences? “I think we have to,” he declared.
“We have always taken strong positions on these matters, like commercial rates for example, or viewability in the digital arena. We get alignment with our clients and we put our money and our clients’ money where our mouths are. Because if we want to see the business evolve in the direction that serves our clients’ interests – and those of the ecosystem – you have got to put some pressure on.”