Accelerated trends in TV have forced an inflection point in advanced TV marketing strategies. With greater measurement capabilities and ongoing refinement to the buying and selling of linear and OTT content, the opportunity for a new type of marketplace is ripe. As fragmentation increases and networks continue to cut costs, media and distribution players must change both organizational and technical operations to better meet the needs of buyers and combat shrinking profits.
The Walt Disney Co., for example, introduced a strategy to solve for fragmentation across platforms with its new streaming-centric management structure. This streamlined profits and losses for ad sales across all platforms, including Disney+, Hulu and ESPN+. Similarly, agencies are condensing media planning and strategy departments, driven by financial pressures and changing client needs.
In a time when marketers want real-time measurement, flexibility and control of their dollars throughout the whole TV buying process, TV players that move beyond the familiar concept of fluidity into “true fluidity” are better positioned within the new ecosystem.
Push instead of pull: Embrace true fluidity
Fluidity is the industry’s “I owe you,” which allows TV networks and advertisers to make good on ad spend, based on gross rating points (GRP), if the initial buy is unable to deliver on impressions. Fluidity is also a simple percentage allocation, encouraging advertisers to reallocate 10% to 30% of their budget toward full-episode player, or FEP, and video on demand.
True fluidity expands on this idea to allow TV networks to manage investments across all screens and properties in real time against a custom audience match guarantee. For example, an advertiser investing with NBCU could move dollars from Bravo to SyFy, to NBC FEP and so on. The advertiser can optimize NBCU’s advanced TV platforms, adjusting as it goes.
Flexible and dynamic, true fluidity draws on more data points and changing sales strategies to meet customers’ needs. It’s not one-size-fits-all but rather a fruitful partnership to provide options for customization. True fluidity analyzes what’s happening now, understands how fragmentation has affected reach and provides a network, screen or content to drive incrementality and results for an advertiser as it happens.
Brands and agencies are embracing the concept of true fluidity, making it an important muscle for the sell side to build on. Rather than react to advertiser changes in optimization, TV players can proactively maximize campaign performance and grab more share of an advertiser’s wallet moving forward.
Achieving true fluidity
For the sell side to take back control and secure credit for what their networks, platforms and apps deliver on, they must understand performance across all owned platforms. Knowing what drives incrementality allows them to think ahead of advertiser demand and adapt their own inventory management to deliver true fluidity. Here are three key steps to establishing true fluidity:
- Adopt a cross-platform POV. The first step in achieving true fluidity is breaking down silos to gain a cross-platform perspective. This 360-degree vision of how viewers are accessing content at every touch point allows networks to provide exact cross-screen reach and frequency to customers.
True fluidity relies on continuous and accurate measurement, allowing TV players to determine how an incrementality approach is tracking against ad spend as well as the impact on advertiser-specific campaign objectives, such as website visits or purchases. Networks can then work with buyers to make adjustments based on actual results.
- Enable the use of identity-informed data sets. Programmers and distributors have yield and inventory management systems in place, often based on differing input variables among linear, digital and CTV. The next phase is building and partnering to enable use of larger, identity-informed data sets, which flow into decisioning tools to allow for better forecasting and managing of their businesses. True fluidity prevails when data and measurement results are immersed in those systems throughout a campaign.
- Create custom audiences. Sellers should create custom audience slices reflective of the current reality—audience suppression and extension—and develop creative audience strategies to present to marketers. This forms the basis for a competitive sales package executable across an app, channel, on-demand services or through a partner distributing content to an OTT platform.
“Similar to the rationale behind measuring reach and frequency, we need to be able to add up performance across different networks,” says David Levy, CEO of OpenAP. “This way you can actually do optimization and have a better sense of how your dollars work in comparison to each other.”
While overhauling sales strategies may seem daunting, true fluidity, once adopted, makes networks more nimble and optimizes ad sales across platforms. By embracing this idea and following these steps, the sell side is better equipped to manage changing client expectations while ensuring they’re credited for the reach and business impact they provide.