Fine-Tuning The Future Of Broadcast TV

marcusliassidesOn TV And Video” is a column exploring opportunities and challenges in programmatic TV and video.

Today’s column is written by Marcus Liassides, CEO at Sorenson Media.

YouTube and Facebook hosted presidential debates. Twitter is live streaming NFL games. Amazon makes TV shows.

The internet isn’t just changing how people consume content – it’s revolutionized where and from whom they receive it.

For consumers, the proliferation of the internet as a content medium is wonderful because it gives them another channel to easily access their favorite TV shows, movies and newscasts. But for TV broadcasters, there’s been a lot of tepid consternation over the internet’s rise, with some of the loudest voices being the most pessimistic, convinced that the internet will end broadcast TV.

Doom and gloom notwithstanding, the reality is that TV remains one of America’s favorite methods for media consumption. As of 2016, there are an estimated 118.4 million TV homes across the country. And, yes, while people are choosing to explore the internet as another avenue for content consumption, it doesn’t have to be a zero-sum game: Broadcast TV and the internet, in many cases, can be complementary rather than competitive.

This, however, doesn’t mean smooth, easy sailing. In order for broadcast TV to continue enjoying the same success of the past few decades during the internet age, it needs to undergo some fine-tuning. It needs to think about its role as a media channel and identify – and fortify – its unique strengths. It needs to learn to leverage data in the same way that digital marketers do to deliver more value to advertisers and consumers. And it needs to learn to share the household with other devices.

Identifying Strengths

The success of broadcast TV won’t result from a fundamental change in the service. It will come from using the platform to its best ability to deliver the best possible product for consumers and advertisers.

Televisions are central components to the American household and aren’t going anywhere. Manufacturers aren’t going to stop producing televisions because people are turning to the internet. People continue to watch television, which still makes it an immensely desirable platform for broadcasters to attract advertisers.

It’s also not fair to say that internet-media services will replace broadcast TV when they’re not direct competitors in every case. For example, some of the more popular internet services, such as Netflix or Hulu, are repositories whereas broadcasters, say a local Dallas ABC-affiliate, are media professionals. Each platform has its own unique benefits, and it’s more likely that they end up complementing each other instead of competing with one another.

Consumers must navigate a sea of different options before settling on what they want to watch. But those repositories lack all the benefits that professional broadcasters can seamlessly deliver into the home, from development and curation to production. There’s value in having content professionally tailored for the audience, which may be kids’ television, for example, or local news.

These benefits are the foundation upon which broadcast TV needs to make its pivot. To activate these strengths, they need to think like their internet-media counterparts.

The Importance Of Data

Part of what makes internet media platforms so successful is their ability to tailor content to their audiences. Browsers and apps are interactive platforms that don’t just act as channels for consumption – they also provide an avenue for the audience to give feedback. Platforms can glean some pretty useful insights for developing programs, in terms of what audiences respond to, video length or the most effective advertisements against certain content.

All of this is very attractive to advertising partners, who can more effectively concentrate their spend with audience targeting. The same effectiveness of tailoring and targeting can happen on traditional broadcast TV as it does over the internet with that data.

Thinking Outside the Box

With 87% of consumers using more than one device at a time, broadcasters must take a multidevice approach to their programming. This means adapting content for all the average American’s devices, from smartphone to tablet and laptop to desktop computer. The TV remains the preferred medium but those secondary, complementary mediums represent huge potential to extend broadcaster’s reach and keep audiences engaged longer.

For example, if the television and mobile device were connected, TV broadcasters could use data and interactivity to prompt the consumer to learn more about a certain product advertisement on their device. Or, if they’re interested in learning more about that story on the local news, they can click the overlay that’s appearing on the TV to learn more.

Addressable Advertising

Like the internet, data allows broadcasters and advertisers to hyperlocalize their messages. TV marketing right now is limited to broader market buys, where advertisers purchase the right to show ads across a sizable region. It’s effective, but it can be pretty wasteful when TVs in New Jersey receive political ads from candidates in New York City.

But hyperlocalization helps solve that problem. Advertisers can target the audiences they want to reach while broadcasters can use data and hyperlocalization to tailor their content selection.

On the internet, voluntarily submitted data is used to develop profiles, such as age, gender and interests. In TV, broadcasters could leverage similar data to offer more relevant targeting to advertisers. For example, they can scale an advertisers’ vacation package to household income and shower more expensive packages to higher-income households.

If TV broadcasters understood their audience’s behavior relative to the content and ads they’re running, they also can further tailor it to make it even more effective. The same way that Netflix can offer suggestions based on TV shows previously watched, broadcasters could use behavioral insights to shape their brand by selecting different shows to run at different times or even tailoring the shows to adapt to it.

Follow Sorenson Media (@sorensonmedia) and AdExchanger (@adexchanger) on Twitter.

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1 Comment

  1. Scott Raban

    Agree with you regarding the complementary intersection of broadcast media and internet content. Broadcast television needs to embrace the OTT world, if they will, with functionality like cloud DVR and allow the local broadcasters to have a presence in the broadband environment, they will find the rising tide of OTT and its associated target advertising will raise all boats. There is still much value in local television, but if the locals don’t have a presence in the broadband world, their future is not certain.