Four Things You Should Know About Programmatic TV Buying

programatic buying


Have you heard about Programmatic Buying? Nope, not Digital Programmatic- but you’re close.

Lately it seems like all we’ve been hearing about is Programmatic Broadcast Buying. About time, right? We consume our TV differently than we did 50 years ago (I’m looking at you, Smart TVs), so it certainly makes sense that the methods by which we analyze, plan, and buy media should start to change as well.  A few years ago, the word “Programmatic” was being thrown around by media buyers as a solution for the future. Fast forward to today, and it’s no longer a whispered taboo subject, but a real way of buying. So, let’s break down the details:

  1. What exactly is Programmatic Broadcast Buying?

Programmatic Broadcast Buying is simply the term used to define buying that is done in an automated, hands-off way that requires no additional support from local TV stations.

When a campaign is set up, the impressions are bought through algorithms that the programmatic buyer sets.  You can take data from Nielsen/Scarborough to shape media plans and begin to layer in specifics data about what a client’s target demo might look like. This would go way deeper than age and gender. The data from Nielsen would target interests like sports affiliation, or purchase behaviors such as amount of money spent of athletic shoes. This targeted research is the key difference between what makes a buy good and what makes a buy perfect.

  1. Does more automated mean less expensive?

The biggest benefit from buying broadcast programmatically comes  not from lower rates, but rather the added metrics which allow for a more precise buy. The Trade Desk reports that buyers may begin to see their costs rise as TV metrics increase in accuracy. “Programmatic buyers have to be willing to pay a higher CPM for better targeting and higher performing campaigns.”

But first, let’s take step back. Why are these metrics so important to the campaign? Think about when you see an ad on your phone for Payless the same day you were in DSW shopping for shoes. Those Programmatic ads are targeting you, their preferred audience. So why can’t TV get in on this action?  Programmatic Broadcast Buying attempts to use this same tricky technique by utilizing metrics (thanks, Nielsen!) to increase the probability that your commercial is being served to someone who is the most likely to buy. It’s always important to remember your end goal. If you view cost effectiveness as the only measure of success, then Programmatic Broadcast Buying may not be for you.

  1. How does Programmatic Broadcast Buying change the way things currently work?

Instead of placing buys through various TV stations (i.e. local ABC, CBS, NBC affiliates), the entire buy gets placed through a single Programmatic Broadcast Vendor. In theory, this should mean increased efficiency; if all spots are placed through one company instead of individual sales reps, then makegood summaries and reports come through one contact instead of several. However, eliminating local reps from the equation comes with certain sacrifices.

  1. Let’s go into more depth about those sacrifices I mentioned:

For an advertiser that doesn’t like to relinquish control, programmatic buying would not be a good fit. There are many restrictions that get placed on Programmatic TV buys that are not placed on Traditional local buys because this process is so new. Specifics like cost, traffic deadlines, and creative limitation will of course vary depending on the Programmatic Vendor.

Due to the small number of local advertisers who currently buy programmatically, anyone who took the risk today would be a guinea pig for a high price tag. This is a new method that is more inclined to support national advertisers over local advertisers, since national advertisers make up the bulk of the current programmatic population.


Overall, is this a fading trend or the future of buying?

Programmatic Buying started in the digital realm, and is now making its way over to the broadcast end of the spectrum. The success of Programmatic Buying in digitial is a key indicator that longterm growth in Broadcast is also possible. An article from Digiday said it best when addressing the need for TV to be purchased in a more modern way.  “ TV is just one of the screens, and the only way we can get all of it to work together is if we’re able to systematically research, plan, buy, optimize and report on all of the screens — together.” It’s great to be able to work with Digital. And it’s also great to be able to work with Broadcast. Too long have we complained about needing to find an effective way to measure all our various media sources in one cohesive outlets! Programmatic Buying will be our solution to come together and measure campaign effectiveness across platforms whether it be TV or mobile. The more access we have to better data, the easier it will be more us to create precise advertising campaigns that are relevent and have a long-lasting effects on advertisers.

This post was written by Amanda Wetick, an Associate Media Buyer with Hoffmann Murtaugh. 



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