A Peek Into the Future: Where Programmatic TV is Headed


When Terry Kawaja speaks, the ad world listens—and for good reason. His insights lack preconceived notions and biases—assets in a potentially controversial piece like his latest on the Future of TV.

Terry speaks of the current conversations happening in silos:

  • Linear TV folks dismissing the relatively smaller digital budgets
  • Digital fellas convinced that their strategies will force the same extinction for TV that radio and newspapers experienced

Given the large combined budgets ($70B TV, $7B digital video), where are the peacemakers in the middle, singing, “can’t we all just get along”?

As a counter to the disconnected digital video and TV parties that have been battling silently, he also predicts convergence…convergence in marketing spend, measurement and media consumption. The newly converged landscape will also include new categories of players, such as TV supply-side platforms (SSP), cross-channel data vendors, workflow automation providers and more.

Standouts in the evolving nature of TV and digital video are:

  • Fragmentation—There is a lot of fragmentation across content and how viewers are consuming media. Fragmentation is driving inventory owners to consider new revenue streams and monetization strategies such as programmatic.
  • Time-shifted content—Another key driver of new monetization.
  • Data-driven decisioning—Data is being utilized to fuel content creation. For example, Netflix committing to two seasons of House of Cards without a pilot because the other factors were so strong. Data-driven decisioning serves to uncover the audience behind media consumption.
  • Navigation—Changing from old-school remote controls to software-based and recommendation-driven content. Will anyone know the difference between “flipping to Fox” vs. “switching the channel to Michelle Phan’s stream”? Unlikely, and some of the large players recognize that the media world as we have known it is short-lived and are responding to this forthcoming shift.

Ad budgets will adjust as viewers change their media consumption behaviors. TV media owners must embrace programmatic to tap into new revenue and digital budgets, and to empower their sales teams with an understanding of the audience and value of their media.

The convergence of traditional TV with digital video calls for an integrated workflow to bring TV and digital together. Platforms that integrate the workflow and provide the translation between TV and digital will be an essential part of the ecosystem. Workflow for TV is drastically different than digital though. Platforms built for digital can not be retrofit to work directly for TV. Building a platform with a focus on TV from the ground up will provide the translation to digital.

Perhaps some convergence will happen through M&A as Terry predicts…perhaps some will be a “build” versus buy, but there will certainly be new innovators that bridge the gap between the currently separate worlds. One scenario Terry suggests is that seven percent of inefficient TV budgets be shifted to digital, doubling the digital video market. A similar case can be made in taking 25 percent of a digital budget and spend it on TV (with matching audience segments to the digital campaign) for positive effects.

Terry claims that linear TV is a growth industry, estimated to $83B by 2020. We absolutely agree that TV is not going anywhere. The future will include programmatic ad solutions for TV to protect TV asset inventory, building a platform from the ground up to serve the merged worlds, increased digital spending and opportunities for monetization. In the near future, I imagine Terry’s team will deliver the output of a far easier single “video” LUMAscape featuring the players in this new video world.


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