Advanced TV Advertising Is Desperate For More Transparency

On TV & Video” is a column exploring opportunities and challenges in advanced TV and video. 

Today’s column is by John Link, VP of sales at AdImpact

There are two distinctly different types of media markets – those that operate with transparency and those that operate with opacity. At one point, there may have been an argument for opacity. But today, it simply creates uncertainty, inefficiencies and friction, ultimately restricting dealmaking and revenue growth.

Transparency is more than a trite idea. In fact, it’s essential for sustained growth across all industries. Today’s lucrative but complex TV market – which includes CTV, AVOD and addressable TV – is no exception.

Yet there are several key missed opportunities for greater visibility into offerings across the TV space. 

The gap in transparency across traditional and digital channels

TV and radio markets established a high degree of transparency decades ago. Independent third-party measurement from Nielsen/Arbitron, along with a host of complementary media tools, enabled useful programming analytics. This led to lucrative ad sales transactions.

Clarity on all sides about the inventory value (via ratings) allowed the media advertising industry to explode over the last 50+ years. Even in today’s big data realm, measurement analytics formulate the desirable common denominator that drives the ongoing hypergrowth of the media and advertising ecosystem. 

Transparency in audience measurement extended to ad sale pricing and has grown over time. While there’s no official source of linear TV CPMs, the transactional nature of the market provides pricing transparency. For national TV, well-established services provide highly accurate estimates of revenue share and CPMs.

But digital advertising is a different animal.

Compared to the linear TV market, digital (online/mobile media) ad transactions remain opaque due to the basic nature of that medium. Digital, especially social and search, extends TV’s awareness objectives via lower-funnel opportunities to drive consumer actions. Digital spending also depends more on advanced targeting and response metrics than share of audience, like TV. Private marketplaces, exchanges, along with walled gardens further limit audience share measurement.

Still, this opaqueness has not limited digital media’s revenue trajectory given its marketing execution role.

So what about advanced TV platforms that are structured like digital media but marketers use like TV? 

There’s little syndicated research available that allows key audience metrics comparisons such as reach and audience composition. There’s also a lack of information on the types of ad experiences each offers. This impacts how agencies can execute and optimize a buy and how advanced TV services will benchmark their capabilities against core competitors.

The time for transparency is now 

The digitization of TV advertising has created new and unique opportunities for marketers to reach their consumer targets. While the emergence of consumer and media big data sets has helped make TV advertising more effective, the marketplace has become a checkerboard of sale-side offerings with inconsistent pricing and measurement.

What’s more, this explosion of unique selling propositions is motivating sellers to hold marketing and sales collateral close to the vest to ensure an edge on their competitors. 

The need for greater transparency around the cacophony of growing advanced TV offerings is glaring. Without it, unrelenting advances in technology will make it increasingly challenging for advertisers and media agencies to make sound, holistic media investment decisions. 

Removing the very real friction that opacity creates is the only way that we can collectively achieve a sustainable media and advertising ecosystem. And that amounts to more than revenue growth – it comes down to reciprocal value delivered over time. 

Follow AdImpact (@Ad_Impact) and AdExchanger (@adexchanger) on Twitter.

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