The Unified Video Primer: Leveraging the Combined Power of Linear & Digital TV

James Rothwell VP, Marketing, Comcast Advertising

As we enter the final stages of the Upfront presentation season, key themes are emerging with audience-targeting (beyond just age and gender) capabilities playing a much larger role in the narrative, while brand safety, has become one of premium video’s biggest selling points.

However, there remains a seemingly perennial theme present in the Upfronts: unification and the ability to help advertisers reach their audience regardless of their device or platform. As more of this premium video is consumed across different screens, the quantity of unified transactions that occur across linear and digital TV has increased. With every year that passes, this theme grows ever more pronounced as the aggregation of audiences and execution of unified campaigns creates complexity for buyers and sellers who are often native to one side of the premium video world.

As linear starts to adopt digital practices and as digital TV matures and scales, these two previously separate channels are inevitably being pulled together. This year’s Upfront will achieve better outcomes if there’s a shared understanding by all stakeholders of the processes, people, and platforms required across both. And both buyers and sellers will need to organize their teams, workflow, and budgets to more tightly align to this concept of unified premium video.

The Board for the FreeWheel Council for Premium Video (FWC), 30 of the largest programmer, operator, and digital pure-play companies, met in late 2016 to discuss these needs and the current gaps in knowledge and experience that exist in the industry. It was clear that there were pockets of expertise in both publishers and agencies for linear and digital, but few spoke both languages.

A committee of ten FWC members, including ABC, AT&T, Discovery, Fox and NBCU, set about mapping out these nuances across the sales process to help both linear- and digital-natives adapt to the new converged TV ecosystem. The result was what we are calling the Unified Video Primer. It is a simple graphic that takes the reader through the sales process of TV, and illuminates the differences that the premium video publisher needs to manage successfully across both linear and digital inventory.

This is the start to shining more light on how the unification of video and screens can drive opportunity for advertisers, while recognizing that these processes and systems are inherently different. It requires a significant level of orchestration, but it starts with understanding the dynamics of what it takes to execute a cross-screen campaign.

The goal of the FWC is to further the premium video ecosystem through research, thought leadership and education. It’s important for all stakeholders to understand the idiosyncrasies of linear television and digital video in order for them to be bought and sold together. When we gain that appreciation, we can move forward as an industry and drive real value for all.

Download your copy of The Unified Video Primer.