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When it comes to ad tech, don’t forget linear

Posted on Nov 22, 2021 by FEED Staff

Multiplatform distribution can make ad sales complicated, but it’s not time to dismiss linear broadcasting just yet

In the rush to VOD, some media companies hurried impulsively into solutions for addressable advertising that weren’t fit for purpose. So, as their digital platforms grew and content spread across many silos – from linear to VOD, on mobile, web or TV – they
found advertising became more complicated than anticipated. The task facing many broadcasters is to reaggregate audiences to make advertising across these platforms more manageable. Now, broadcasters can renew their relationships with advertisers and agencies by selling them an audience, rather than old-school spots.

“With the right ad tech, broadcasters can take over that responsibility, and go find the audience for their advertisers, wherever it happens to be,” explains Graham Heap, senior director of product management at Imagine Communications. “Broadcasters are saying: ‘Tell me what audience you’re trying to find, and I will find you the best distribution of that, with the best incremental reach and overall audience delivery.’”

But these cross-platform ad sales depend on effective ad measurement. It’s likely that linear TV is going to stay robust for the foreseeable future – audiences still like to watch high profile live events – and being able to rely on the stability of that viewing gives broadcasters security to pursue a broader, multiple-platform ad strategy. They don’t need to cash in their chips and commit to a digital only strategy that is still in flux.

With the right ad tech, broadcasters can go find the audience for their advertisers, wherever it happens to be

Newer, digital-only platforms struggle for monetisation, because they lack the experience selling to agencies and brands on a premium basis, which linear broadcasters have been doing for decades. Over the last year, the UK’s Sky Media worked with Imagine Communications to transform the way it buys and sells multiplatform advertising. Central to the project is Sky’s new One Campaign solution, allowing advertisers to buy a single campaign, delivered and measured holistically across multiple platforms, including linear and on-demand. Imagine’s GamePlan – a cloud-native booking optimiser – will allow Sky to plan campaigns accurately and ensure that any opportunities are optimally monetised. The GamePlan proposition is aimed at helping broadcasters extract as much revenue out of linear broadcast as possible, which can then be used to help fund the rest of the cross-platform tech stack.

“A lot of customers will be moving to that hybrid sales model in the next few years, introducing new sales methodologies on their traditional estate to get it ready for an aggregated, audience-driven sell in the future,” says Heap. “You basically want to introduce
new trading methodologies and new optimisation, without unstitching your current methodology.”

He concludes: “If I’m making $100m out of traditional linear sales, I can’t put that at risk while I’m making the transition. You don’t want to throw the baby out with the bathwater.”

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Imagine Communications archives.

This article first featured in the autumn 2021 issue of FEED magazine.

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