Convergent TV Is A Mirage Until We Have Scaled Infrastructure

Chris Maccaro, CEO, Beachfront

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

Today’s column is by Chris Maccaro, CEO of Beachfront

“TV is dead. Streaming is the future.” Chances are you’ve heard these statements many times over the last 20 years – and neither of them is true.

Yes, linear cable TV subscribers are falling. But according to eMarketer, 70 million US households, or 54%, still pay for it. Boxes are going to be in homes for quite some time.

TV has incomparable reach; streaming has incredible targeting. Neither is a panacea. Advertisers will need to manage a presence in both mediums in order to achieve their objectives. Convergence, at its heart, is about becoming proficient and fluid across channels.

The problem for marketers is that the sell side is not built to help manage convergence. The entire infrastructure of TV and streaming media is still very siloed across ad sales teams, agency buying teams and measurement practices. Sellers need help building this infrastructure to make it easier for buyers. 

In short: There’s still a lot of work to be done.

Digital convergence requires fluidity in buying and selling  

It’s easy to believe that streaming is a more sophisticated media buy because it’s inherently digital. But that’s just not the case yet. When it comes to video ads, the legacy technology in streaming is pretty good at mid-roll, pre-roll and post-roll delivery. However, it’s not very good at handling the complexities of television, where well-curated ad pods, competitive separation rules and deduplication are table stakes.

The CTV experience needs an overhaul.

Media buys should be smart – and context sensitive: There are practices that are table stakes in linear TV buying, such as forms of point-of-purchase placement, competitive adjacency and so on. There are also basic contextual understandings, such as dayparts and genres, that often aren’t included in streaming offerings, but should be.

The viewer experience must be pristine: Advertisers buy based on certain parameters and commitments. The technology needs to be there to uphold those commitments, including legal and contractual obligations.

Automation is a requirement: Lastly, competitive separation and deduplication in an automated world means not having to mediate between hundreds of advertisers and manually take insertion orders. The process must be seamless.

Out with old tools and in with the new

In theory, a convergent TV and digital landscape promises a fluid, interoperable buying and selling process across any kind of inventory on a national scale.

Realizing this potential requires overcoming old technology and entrenched processes. And even with the right intentions, it’s still too hard for sellers to make their inventory available in the seamless ways that the omnichannel marketer expects.

Until those supply pipes are equipped for automation, convergence is a hollow concept. Without viable infrastructure to support cross-channel buying, all convergence really brings is complexity.

Follow Beachfront (@beachfrontmedia) and AdExchanger (@adexchanger) on Twitter.

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1 Comment

  1. Michael Tuminello

    With respect, convergent TV is here, and no mirage. Programmatic convergent TV is not here yet, and the degree to which TV will line up with the expectations of the existing programmatic ecosystem is TBD.