When entering a basketball court, tennis match or even a game of monopoly, it would be unheard of to let your opponent know what tactics you will use to win and where your players will be positioned. Imagine a coach working out a deal during the preseason that would let other teams know the plays his team is going to use during the season.
As bizarre as that scenario sounds, something similar happens at some ad agencies. Often the lack of resources forces agency staff to hand over media planning to the owners or reps of the media companies they are purchasing air time from. This drastically changes the dynamic between ad agencies and the media in which their clients’ ads will appear.
Let’s Look At TV as a Prime Example
There are several layers of TV delivery across the country. The broadest layer is National Broadcast and Network Cable where the programming signal is sent out over the entire country.
Next is Spot Broadcast stations which are in 210 markets and where ads can be inserted across a single area. These stations/networks compete with each other for ad dollars. An agency has options to see who is most efficient at reaching large groups of the brand’s audience. Ad agencies have a strong legacy in this arena.
But in the next TV layer, Spot Cable (where ads are delivered by market through interconnects, or locally over 2,300+ local cable systems), there is a monopoly for delivery of the advertiser’s message. This option is a centralized rep, which has agreements with the individual cable systems to sell their air time to agencies.
As mentioned in the Wall Street Journal, on Nov. 15th, 2015, the Department of Justice is investigating this practice. Once the cable TV sales rep knows the locations and the target audience that are important to the brand, it becomes his or her advantage and the marketer’s limitations.
It’s understandable that brands don’t want to give their data to the vendors. Vendors present packages that are good for them to sell, not necessarily the best one for you to buy. Information about the inventory and the footprints available to the buyer is very limited and this greatly hinders the marketing experts at the agencies from exploring, enhancing and creating campaigns that will achieve their goals.
The breakthrough in this situation is created by our pure DSP, and as ad-tech specialists focused on Targeted TV, competition is brought back to the marketplace. We know data from our DSP improves the performance of an opaque marketplace, since each marketer has a different view of efficiency. The planner can consider several options in one area, things like; number of total impressions vs targeted impressions and this will enable calculations for an ECPM within high or low indexing ZIP codes.
Fixing the Situation
It’s time to return control to the demand side, just as the consumer can electronically compare purchasing options, so can media planners and buyers. Will the data scientist become a common staff member of agency teams? We are starting to see them more and more. Agency teams working in-house or with the ad-tech specialists empower buyers to determine where to place their ads and spend their marketing dollars—and validate that to their clients. The data will let the planner and buyer know which media (TV, digital, radio, print, mobile) will produce the most benefit for their brand. When brands share their data and technology with the agency teams, they significantly loosen the control of various media vendors.
This happens, when we empower planners with more options to explore, remove the friction from the process and provide our TV buyers information so they can negotiate with power. If a brand has first-party data that can be used by the agency planner to verify the value of the offerings, the chances of making an impactful ad placement increase substantially. In addition, auditing and third-party verification go a long way to supporting this end.
Applying data fortifies choices, supports decisions and advances the exploration of what is right for a brand’s marketing goals. TV planners need a champion when shifting through myriad media offerings; data can be that champion.