How to Take Premium Programmatic to The Next Level

By: Karen Babcock, Vice President, Planning & Monetization, Comcast Advertising

FreeWheel brought together the demand- and supply-sides of the TV ecosystem for its inaugural Premium Programmatic Summit. FreeWheelers were in action doing what they do best—connecting various parties to drive industry change. Amid the conversations and presentations one key theme became clear—while the advertising industry has made great strides advancing programmatic capabilities, there’s still work to do in order to maximize programmatic for premium video. One thing I loved about this summit was it brought together the people doing the work, living it every day. It was electric to see them all together.

Here’s what I believe we need to focus on to move forward and break down barriers (let’s be clear, there will be more!):


Focus on the Consumer and the Marketer

The use of acronyms (e.g. CTV, OTT, SVOD, AVOD, etc.) is prevalent and causes confusion for the buy-side. Too much confusion leads to less adoption, so let’s resolve to focus on clarity and specificity. When in doubt, use real people words – not ad tech words. After all, to consumers, it’s all TV: premium, brand-safe professionally produced video, regardless of the specific network, platform, or screen. With more options than ever, viewers will only continue to invest in the TV platforms that combine quality content with an engaging ad experience. Especially in a fragmented landscape, the consumer experience should be the foundation of any strategy. Buyers, sellers, and tech companies alike need to ensure that viewers are served ads in a way that is relevant, non-disruptive, and not overly repetitive.

It’s incumbent upon all sides of the TV ecosystem to adapt to consumer trends and recognize how they, in turn, empower marketers. The media mix of tomorrow is not going to be built on the media mix of 2019.


The Value of Premium Content

Programmatic was initially built to find audiences across undifferentiated content, mainly display — the exact opposite of what linear and streaming TV is. While the ways in which TV is watched, bought, and sold have evolved significantly in recent years, one thing remains constant: it’s a medium anchored by powerful stories and memorable characters that pull in viewers time and again.

For the benefit of both publishers and marketers, the industry can establish better signals for this type of inventory. Publishers need and deserve fair value for their content’s quality. Meanwhile, marketers must be able to clearly identify the audiences that will be most responsive to their brand messaging, find the content that matters most to this audience, and then reach them at scale while they’re most engaged. This value exchange needs to be clear to make automation work effectively.


Connectivity is Non-Negotiable

The energy at the summit—with representatives across publishers, agencies, and tech companies, all gathered—further confirmed that, as an industry, we are better together as the ecosystem has grown more complex. Even as we shift more and more toward automated channels, relationships still play a critical role in maximizing everything from upfront buys to the viewer experience and more.

To further improve automation, flexibility, and transparency across the industry, we need to be more interoperable, while focusing on the connections that matter for marketers and audiences. Define our non-negotiables and be flexible elsewhere.

From all attendees across the ecosystem, there was a desire for action; however, for the TV industry to evolve, this action needs to happen now.

When it comes maximizing the full potential of premium programmatic by addressing the challenges the industry faces today, let’s make sure we’re addressing a different set of challenges and opportunities two years from now. The technology and talent already exist to make TV as strong as possible.