Digital Publishing Lessons For Navigating The New TV Landscape

The Sell Sider” is a column written for the sell side of the digital media community. 

Today’s column is written by Ben Dixon, CEO at Adslot.

The traditional TV ecosystem still attracts immense money in advertising – an estimated $69.2 billion in 2019 – despite the continued proliferation of cord cutters, who shun content that can’t be consumed on over the top.

The increasingly fractured attention means that collecting data and insights from consumers can be difficult. Nearly two-thirds of mobile and streaming consumption isn’t being captured by traditional TV measurement, creating a need for better audience targeting, attribution and measurement so that marketers can build sophisticated plans across media channels.

This conversation is particularly relevant now, as TV programmers, advertisers and brands descend on New York for the traditional upfronts and digital-focused NewFronts. The blurring line between traditional linear and digital TV has created confusion about how best to navigate the changing landscape. While it’s impossible to predict the future, TV can take cues from the evolution of the digital publishing industry.

The parallel to publishing

In many ways, TV’s current state harkens back to what the publishing industry experienced roughly a decade ago – transitioning from the simplicity of widespread print media to digital publishing, then to mobile-first and so forth. The shift to digital brought automation and data, which introduced new buying strategies, sophisticated insights and new risks.

Throughout this journey, it became evident in publishing that quality was the not-so-secret weapon to win the game. This lesson is something many in TV are advocating for now.

Content is still king

The launch of Apple News Plus is the latest proof point that premium content in publishing is here to stay. For TV, Peter Katsingris, Nielsen’s SVP of audience insights, says it best when discussing Nielsen’s new Total Audience Report: The key to getting in front of fleeting eyeballs is the quality of content.

Whether the audience is consuming cult favorites like “The Handmaid’s Tale” on Hulu or the revived “American Idol” on FOX, good content will keep audiences coming back. This increased viewership only dominos  from there. The more eyeballs on a program, the more enticing it is for advertisers. And the more enticing it is for advertisers, the steeper the supply-and-demand curve and, often, the price tag to advertise.

Don’t separate audience from content

The industry has evolved from targeting an assumed audience based on content to targeting an actual audience based on identifiers. This shift allows advertisers to capture the “right time, right place and right message” trifecta and layer these audience-based insights onto premium content.

An audience disassociated from content and vice versa will bring down the quality and effectiveness of an ad. Luckily, programmatic has matured enough to facilitate this, and this capability is on the horizon for TV.

Measurement matters more than ever

As TV and digital continue to converge, the pressure for CMOs to extract attribution, performance and campaign insights will only increase. Much in the same way programmatic and direct have begun to merge in publishing, linear and digital must learn to work together rather than compete for budgets. Absent this cohesive approach, one will lose out to the other altogether, and whichever can best prove its value will win.

The digital economy has created competition for consumer attention across most industries we know today, with publishing among those that have weathered the biggest storms. The value of premium content, audience-based insights and collaboration within the industry are just a few of the lessons digital publishing can pass on.

Follow Adslot (@Adslot) and AdExchanger (@adexchanger) on Twitter.

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1 Comment

  1. Brad Thompson

    No one will argue with the majority of points made here but it astounds me how all these POVs insist that it’s Linear that needs to adapt to the Digital ways. Trust me, both sides will need to find new ways to do business as these worlds converge. Measurement is amongst the top of that list for sure. Case in point: you don’t need to convince anyone in that ‘premium content is here to stay.’ Linear TV (and even Netflix) has known this years before digital was even around. The fight for the living room will be big but it will also be slow moving. Similar to mobile, you will hear many digital-only peeps crying how ‘eyeball growth’ are outpacing OTT/CTV ad spend for the next 5 years. Mobile didn’t click until we made it easy and we made it work. Let’s learn from our past lessons and work with the linear side to make this easier. BC we already know it works. — End of Soap Box