The Future Of TV Depends On More Frenemies And Fewer Enemies

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

Today’s column is written by Jay Prasad, chief strategy officer at VideoAmp.

In a multibillion-dollar ad market where digital will finally overtake traditional ad spend, TV remains the highest-valued medium, particularly as it evolves to become an even more efficient marketing platform.

And that’s why the battle to drive that evolution – whether it’s in the ad tech fire sales and patent scuffles, or the behemoth content bidding wars – continues to get bloodier.

But, what if the most lucrative path forward is less about the fight and more about better alignment?

For the real vision of TV as a platform to succeed, a few elements must continue to take shape. Building a new TV marketplace requires collaboration in the development of technology, processes and policies between players that are sometimes cooperative – but are more often competitive.

Cooperation between content frenemies

The lowest hanging fruit is cooperation amongst content owners. Early stage Hulu serves as a rudimentary example, but when you consider the combination of set-top box data, broadband IP addresses and consumer purchase info that Comcast, Charter and Cox are offering up as part of their NCC tie-up, it becomes clear how fruitful these kinds of content platform partnerships can be.

Advertisers gain the ability to target consumers with a level of sophistication and granularity that only increases the inherent value of TV as a medium, which, of course, means the media companies and MVPDs earn more revenue for the (expensive) content they produce.

A consensus on third-party measurement    

It’s clear that we need TV measurement capabilities that are truly modernized for today’s marketing needs – and that goes for both legacy TV buyers and the new challenger brands jumping into the mix.

But I’d go a step further and argue that we need some kind of consensus – because we’re not yet in a position to develop a true “standard” ­– on what gets measured, when, why and how.

In addition to consensus, we also need cooperation amongst frenemies and a commitment from media companies, MVPDs, ad platforms, agencies and other players in the ecosystem, to supply the data in order to develop a truly representative new system of measurement.

Interoperability with the walled gardens for privacy’s sake

The walled gardens aren’t going anywhere, but Google and Facebook (feel free to add Amazon, Microsoft and AT&T with Xandr to the mix) have two big reasons to play nicer with their partners on both sides of the TV marketplace: more effective measurement and privacy and data protection.

Consider how much more effective marketers’ insights could be if they included performance metrics from the two companies that will control nearly 60% of all US digital ad spend this year.

But while having access to Facebook’s or Google’s audience insights would immediately make bundled TV and cross-screen buys more scalable, in this case, playing nice doesn’t actually mean that the walled gardens need to share their data. (Sorry, friends.)

Instead, the walled gardens would need to make certain aspects of their platforms interoperable with the customer data privacy safeguards and best practices that apply to the rest of the ecosystem.

Last year’s scramble to become GDPR-compliant was a laborious exercise for many companies. The industry’s forays into leveraging viewer data across multiple screens are being heavily scrutinized and may potentially become regulated.

As the ecosystem evolves, it’s in everyone’s best interest to take good care of user data, be privacy compliant and stay on the good side of regulators. And since so many of the video views come from devices connected to Facebook, Google and Amazon, the industry needs the walled gardens to play nicely when it comes to that compliance.

TV has long held its place as one of the most coveted advertising mediums, and what we’re witnessing now is the evolution of TV into a true operating platform. But this vision will only come to fruition if everyone commits to more collaboration.

Follow Jay Prasad (@jayin3D), VideoAmp (@Video_Amp) and AdExchanger (@adexchanger) on Twitter.

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