4A's Conference

Can Programmatic TV Happen If Adland Can't Define Addressabilty?

4A's Panel Discusses Migration To Programmatic TV And What It Means For Human Insights

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Most people in the agency world expect programmatic TV to pick up in the next year, but so far there's been a lot of talk and little action.

Amanda Richman
Amanda Richman 

That's not really a surprise, given that even experts can't agree on definitions of some terms in the programmatic world, like addressability. Experts on a programmatic TV panel at the 4A's Transformation Conference on Tuesday said a lack of a universal definition for addressibility is causing industry strife.

Amanda Richman, president of investment and activation at Starcom, said that programmatic TV is, in part, about the potential of addressibility and audience targeting. She said that rather than focus too much on the fact that the technology now exists, the industry needs to focus on the strategies that can be developed and enhanced by programmatic, all while making sure that creative agencies are engaged with programmatic. She urged that the industry "stop building programmatic silos."

The panel also acknowledged there should be consensus on the definition of addressibility. "One of the key words was addressability, and my question is, what do you mean by that?" said Dave Campanelli, senior VP-director of national TV at Horizon Media.

In response, Ms. Richman said that the challenge for the industry is around language. "How do you define addressability? It's causing confusion."

Beyond that, the panel also largely agreed on the idea that programmatic TV will require some human finessing and insights. "Automation doesn't mean you don't have people," said Mr. Campanelli. He said that automation enhances what people bring to the table, and that the future of TV buying will include a mix of automation and people to provide insights.

He also noted that data is often fungible and interpretation of it can lead to vastly different insights. "Spinning data can be dangerous," he said, noting that networks will often have differing views of the data landscape, so "an automated tool levels the playing field, giving everyone one lens" to view the media landscape.

Peter Naylor, senior VP-ad sales at Hulu, said that automation at its core is "about procurement," and that if adland focuses on that element alone, "you lose sight of what's important." Mr. Naylor added that automated tools are making marketing better ultimately, but said that people still need to be examining the automation and monitoring the marketing because it is always changing.

Mr. Campanelli said that automation does have its limits when it comes to the context of a TV show. "Sometimes 'Jerry Springer' is better than 'Mad Men,' but context is an element that programmatic misses in TV."

The panel essentially agreed that, to use Ms. Richman's words, programmatic knowledge needs to move beyond a "narrow groups of specialists."

After all, in a few years, the word programmatic will disappear, because it will be used in all media, said Mr. Naylor.

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