Video Essentials

Addressable TV Is Coming, But It’s Not Yet Ready for Prime Time

Publicis Media is directing a significant amount of its clients’ money to addressable television, noted Jonathan Bokor, director of precision video at Publicis, and many of its clients are interested in moving to that area. Addressable TV ads, which target a specific viewer (rather than going after braod demographic categories like traditional TV ad buys) seem to work especially well for automotive and a few other categories. Addressable ads are real and are growing in use every year. However, he cautioned, they still make up about one percent of TV ad buys. The vast majority of TV ad spend is based on context and uses demographics.

Jonathan Bokor of Publicis Media (left) spoke of the need to drive results.

During the Adobe Summit session “Multiscreen TV Advertising: Rethinking the Way We Transact and Measure,” the audience could feel the frustration as an industry slowly lurches in a new direction. Panelists from Fox, Sling TV, and Publicis (representing broadcast TV, OTT, and the ad community), clearly find the current landscape taxing, where measurement systems aren’t broadly in place, and there’s still no simple way to compare broadcast and streamed views.

More channels means more ways to watch TV, Bokor observed, and the audience is fractured. Brands can’t achieve strong reach with a single buy anymore. When they look to TV, they find ad rates rising for a smaller slice of the viewership.

The most desirable 20 percent of the audience is getting hammered with ad frequency, Bokor said. The ecosystem needs better ad targeting and frequency control. It also needs attribution that measures not only ad exposure but how often that exposure leads to sales, a theme he came back to several times. Only when an advanced system is in place will publishers be able to command more for targeted ads and reduce overall ad loads while getting the same return.

The holy grail for Bokor is an identification system that matches the viewing device with the viewer and also tracks sales. Currently, brands buy a share of viewers’ attention, but he wants to know how often that attention leads to results. With traditional linear TV, attribution simply isn’t strong. Researchers can extrapolate sales information, but Bokor distrusts the small sample size they work from.

“The old technology of television, the writings on the wall,” Bokor said. Broadcasters currently emphasize that they provide better context for ads, since viewers are more likely to be paying undivided attention to a TV image than a mobile image, but Bokor says the value of that context hasn’t yet been proven.

Despite all the attention paid to mobile, Bokor notes that watch time is far longer on TVs for streamed content. Mobile viewers might have more video starts, but they’re watching short clips. “Hulu is the bellwether,” he said; it’s available on multiple platforms but 75 percent of views are on a TV.

Whether broadcast or online, the big question for Bokor is “Is it driving sales?” There’s currently no magic bullet, he said. Many solutions are cobbled together and limited in scope. Addressable TV is moving in the right direction, but the finish line is still a long ways off.


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