America’s broadcasting and cable companies have a rich history of creating great content and delivering large audiences that advertisers covet. They also perfected a direct sales supply and demand business model that has, for the most part, survived the digital invasion. But things have changed…
Digital disruption has rippled across the media landscape for over two decades now, and while television has fared better than their print media counterparts, accelerated disruption from Facebook and others is now hitting video publishers harder than ever. Much of the disruption falls into three categories:
Content Production - Everybody’s doing it!
Traditional media companies no longer corner the market on premium content or audience reach. Even the very definitions of ‘premium’ and ‘audience’ have changed in a world where YouTube personalities are more recognizable to Millennials than ‘prime time’ stars. New programming, more screens and platforms continue to accelerate audience fragmentation. Trying to grow revenue in a world of declining ratings will come with new advertiser demands.
Content Distribution - Who’s watching, and where?
Television companies need to deliver content (and advertiser solutions) beyond their O&O channels, and they are learning the hard way that effective distribution (Facebook) does not necessarily equate to effective monetization. But for our purposes, who delivers the content is less important than the concept of “TV Everywhere” and understanding who’s watching where. When your owned channels are just a piece of the puzzle, this becomes a real challenge that requires an advanced infrastructure and new business models.
Ad Technology – How much do we need?
One look at the ad tech “video lumascape” sums it up. Media companies are inundated with who to work with and how to work with them. Ad tech now touches virtually every aspect of the media business, from cross-screen delivery, to monetization, authenticating, tracking, billing, creating, and even selling. As a result, vendor consolidation is well underway through attrition and acquisition as publishers recognize the need to own and simplify their workflow.
In short, there’s a lot going on! To grapple with these three big categories of change, the following basic themes should be a focus for all video-centric publishers.
#1: Follow the Money!
It seems obvious. But in the fragmented media world, television companies need to reevaluate for which dollars they can realistically compete. The question is no longer, “What’s my share of TV ad spend?”, but rather, “Where are video dollars being spent today, and why?” Television companies must deliver solutions that are aligned with today’s media plans and video budgets and must consider a huge range of options from program content and advanced audience targeting to cross screen reach and frequency goals, sponsorships, branded content, VOD, mobile video ad formats, and more. Adding complexity and new pressure on traditional TV budgets is that video advertising is being delivered within non-video mobile content via Outstream ad formats - Facebook’s $19B in revenue (84% mobile) is validation of this, and a clear sign that video ad spend has moved well beyond the 30-second spot.
In short, today’s video solutions are way more complex than yesterday’s. Advertiser demand flows toward performance and efficiency. It’s no surprise that programmatic channels are driving digital advertising’s growth. And while there are many definitions of programmatic, it doesn’t have to preclude the beauty of TV’s 75 years of “what works”. Think video versus TV and providing solutions that follow the money flowing into programmatic budgets. There are a lot of innovative ways for TV centric companies to get in the programmatic video business today. It will inevitably become a much bigger part of your business tomorrow.
#2: Follow the Audience!
Audiences have been empowered by choices, and when every screen has an option and everything is on demand, it’s up to the content provider to think well beyond the “program time slot”. Today, more can be done beyond the screen or player environment to provide solutions for advertisers to engage with your audience.
The baseline is complimenting TV spots with digital’s ability to target and retarget audiences. Premium programming, strong brand recognition and first-party data unlocks significant competitive advantages for television companies to connect their audiences across screens and channels. Combine branding and lower funnel solutions that deliver more compelling connected campaigns. Don’t be afraid to venture into performance beyond audience guarantees; it’s coming to TV too, so learning now is critical.
#3: Don’t Forget Who Brought You to the Dance!
It’s important to remember that the direct sales organization of big media companies is a tremendous asset. Sales automation will never eliminated the need for sales competency - it has, however, changed the skillset required for success. By definition, the days of successful transactional TV sellers are numbered. Relationships are only as good as the seller’s ability to ask thoughtful questions and get problems solved. Strategic thinkers that can bring together the product and ad solutions that meet the goals of your clients will define sales talent.
Be thoughtful about developing that sales talent. Make them smarter, make them better and make them accountable to way more than negotiating a buy. Recognize the revenue generated by them over the years and invest into the sales team of your future.
Ultimately, the human touch, not AI, will bring the creativity needed to assemble the “big ideas” that fully leverage your content, brand and audience. At the same time, recognize the need to bring way more efficiency to the complexity of buying, selling and creating great advertising.