DISH Media Is Betting That COVID-19 Will Push Marketers Toward Measurable TV Advertising

Now that advertisers have triaged their media plans to accommodate consumers sheltering in place, head of DISH Media Sales Kevin Arrix is thinking about which of those changes will be long term.

He bets the pandemic will push more marketers into measurable TV media.

“Advertisers are going to use data and technology to make sure the dollars they spend are driving known and big impacts,” Arrix said. He predicts advertisers will lean into addressable TV ads or data that enables better reach and frequency management.

Since DISH focuses heavily on addressable TV ads and data, Arrix acknowledges he’s coming from a biased position. But he’s already seeing marketers focus on results with a new intensity.

“In conversations in the past week or two [with buyers], it’s ‘What kind of impact can the dollar I spend have on my business?’” Arrix recalled.

The answer to that question, Arrix added, brings the conversation to data-driven accountability and attribution. “There are industries where, when they start spending again, or ramping up spending, the marketing and advertising has to work for them,” he said.

So DISH Media is sticking to its road map around accountability, advanced advertising and being part of the open ecosystem.

“[The pandemic] hasn’t changed our North Stars for 2020,” Arrix said.

In late April, DISH Media opened up its video on-demand inventory to programmatic buyers, which allows equal access whether buys are programmatic or through a managed service.

More TV inventory will become programmatic over time. While DISH Media’s latest move brought more programmatic inventory to satellite TV, its eventual goal is “building a bridge” that will make linear, set-top box and VOD inventory available programmatically, Arrix said.

For DISH Media’s streaming service Sling TV, half of the revenue is already executed programmatically, Arrix said, with strong results. “We are huge fans of what programmatic can do for us.”

DISH Media’s continued push into measurable TV advertising is not without risks that advertisers will go in a different direction. There’s a chance that the uncertainty around COVID-19 will make advertisers “step back into the safe zone,” he said.

But it could be to advertisers’ advantage for push change. The upfronts, for example, will likely be a buyers’ market this year. A switch to a calendar year model is likely, many in TV predict, including Arrix. “It’s amazing how long that upfront ritual has lasted,” he said.

Buyers may find deals in a softer TV market, but they shouldn’t fall in the trap of buying cheap.

“What happened in 2008-2009, and in 2001, was that marketers and agencies were saying, ‘I’m going to buy more of this because it’s inexpensive.’”

But they still need to look at the business impact, Arrix said, using data to show if it’s better to buy the cheaper or more expensive piece of TV inventory. Why? “Sometimes you get what you pay for.”

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