Hulu, Condé Nast Entertainment Talk Programmatic, Digital And TV Convergence Challenges

audienceHulu, Condé Nast Entertainment and other members of the digital video and television industry laid out their measurement and monetization challenges on Wednesday at VideoNuze’s Online Video Advertising Summit.

Brands and publishers are well aware of the growing popularity of applying programmatic to direct buys. Hulu for instance has reportedly beta-tested a programmatic exchange for more than a year.

“Programmatic is what people want to embrace – if it is worth the effort in terms of pay-out on the buy side and the sell side,” said Peter Naylor, SVP of advertising sales for Hulu. “We are happy to do preferred, guaranteed deals, on a private reserve basis. We are not talking open exchange, RTB (real-time bidding).”

As programmatic direct deals from big-name brand advertisers propagate, it’s still unclear how marketers will draw budget to fund these endeavors. Most of the money, after all, still goes to the more traditional channels like broadcast and even print.

“There is a small shift from TV (budget) but… print is still way over-indexed and brands are still putting money in it,” said David Hallerman, principal analyst for eMarketer. Print, he said, provides a very good sense of the audience, and if audiences can be reached more effectively via programmatic direct, then dollars will shift more readily.

On the other hand, some marketplace segments will transact only programmatically, said Condé Nast Entertainment’s EVP and Chief Digital Officer Fred Santarpia. “The challenge is: so much of our business (hinges upon) RFPs, etc., and we’re not sure (programmatic) is something that will drive a return for us in the short-term.”

And before broadcasters commit to programmatic, they must have answers to questions around brand safety (ensuring for instance a Chevy ad doesn’t follow a Budweiser ad), measurement challenges and how to reconcile new processes with long-lived TV workflow rules, said Doug Knopper, cofounder and co-CEO of FreeWheel, a sell-side digital video and TV tech company that helps major broadcasters monetize their inventory.

There is also discrepancy around how buys are structured.

Hulu, for instance, has both original programs (and counts more than 6 million Hulu Plus subscribers) as well as a wide variety of established TV shows. Yet, Naylor said it sells inventory around audiences, not around specific shows.

“There are so many ways to reach your target by genre, audience, demographic… when we’re talking about audience, they are materially younger than the average of TV audience and we decided two years ago we’d only charge for video (ads) that are completed,” he said.

“So the buyer feels their dollar is equally valuable for a network show vs. a Hulu original?” asked Will Richmond, publisher of VideoNuze.

“Yes,” said Naylor.

But Condé Nast, a 100-year-old print company, focuses on selling ads around audiences as well as individual brands like Vogue or Bon Appétit. “Video opens up a whole new set of opportunities,” said Santarpia. “We focus on audience, yes, but we also look at brand (from) and show specifics. It’s more than just media. We want to look at creative executions for brand partners that weren’t possible” in print.


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