How broadcasters are bringing advanced programmatic strategies to the new TV upfronts

Ally Appelbaum, senior director, publisher development, Unruly

For years, there have been ongoing conversations about how the ubiquitous adoption of CTV/OTT (if and when that occurs) — coupled with the efficiency of programmatic buying against the channel — could transform the upfronts. 

In 2023, the industry is on the precipice of a significant change. Programmatic advertising is poised to reshape the nature of the upfronts, adjusting this future-driven ad-buying model to one that provides buyers more flexibility in how they use their media and the ability to incorporate real-time, data-driven decisions. 

It’s an exciting shift, to be sure, but it’s also a significant break from the tradition of TV buying — one that will undoubtedly disrupt the worlds of networks, agencies and brands. While programmatic is an efficient method of buying and selling inventory, serious challenges remain — viewership fragmentation, the number of technology partners in the stack and disparate data sources, to name a few. 

However, many advanced tech providers have anticipated the addition of programmatic to the upfronts for years, and the technology already exists to help make planning and selling easier and more effective.

Cross-platform planning tools help broadcasters strategize

A single broadcaster often has multiple methods of reaching audiences (e.g., linear, FAST, AVOD, SVOD, apps, etc.), which is rife for duplicated reach and wasted impressions for advertisers. Understanding where to reach a target and how to control reach and frequency will ultimately deliver a better ROI for advertisers.

Cross-platform planning tools combine these elements so broadcasters can have a single view of their channel mix to more easily identify reach, impressions, etc., producing ideal results for their advertisers. 

Mapping out an inventory allocation strategy in advance and considering every element of a media mix lets broadcasters see the big picture and the data to make informed activation decisions. This is particularly important when it comes to balancing digital with linear. 

Advanced self-service SSP solutions provide broadcasters with the flexibility to meet buyers’ needs

Once plans are in place, broadcasters will need a sell-side solution that allows them to meet buyers’ needs in whatever way they expect to activate — whether via traditional direct IO or a programmatic execution. 

To effectively deliver against advertisers’ KPIs while achieving upfront commitments in a programmatic environment, broadcasters have a few tasks they must master.
It will be paramount to seamlessly package and price their inventory and layer on necessary metadata through content attributes and audience targeting. Advanced self-service SSP solutions are offering broadcasters a way to do just that. 

Using ad servers purpose-built for CTV allows broadcasters to maximize the experience they deliver

Many digital ad servers have been retrofitted to work in the CTV space. Unfortunately, those that aren’t purpose-built for streaming environments limit the flexibility for broadcasters to maximize their inventory yield while also delivering a TV-like viewing experience for audiences (i.e., no repeating ads). 

Real-time decision-making about which ads to show based on criteria like targeting or frequency capping and the ability to customize ad breaks for the highest possible yield make ad serving in the advanced TV ecosystem much simpler. By using ad servers built for CTV, broadcasters can deliver the experience audiences expect while simplifying the process for themselves.

Broadcasters can combine tools to tackle the new TV upfronts

While conversations about the transforming upfronts are nothing new, as these discussions start moving from hypothetical to actual, ensuring the right technology is in place for planning, selling and activating will be crucial.

Broadcasters still face challenges such as viewership fragmentation, disparate data sources and a proliferation of technology partners in the stack, but they also have several tools at their disposal. 

Cross-platform planning tools allow them to see their overall campaign strategy to balance digital and linear planning and make more informed decisions. Advanced self-service SSP solutions offer flexibility in packaging, pricing and delivering inventory, which helps broadcasters effectively deliver against advertiser KPIs. And using ad servers purpose-built for CTV instead of retrofitted platforms allows broadcasters to streamline their processes and offer a better experience for viewers, resulting in better returns for themselves and their advertisers. 

Leveraging these tools and platforms will help broadcasters navigate the changing landscape of the TV upfronts and find success as they master the new programmatic upfront world.

Sponsored by: Unruly

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