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TVB Forward 2017: In a Drifting Landscape, Local Plunges Ahead

December 11th, 2017   ||    by Charlene Weisler

Local television—and its ability to adapt to an increasingly digitized ecosystem—has become quite the hot topic. At the recent TVB Forward 2017 Conference, industry experts shared their views on how local broadcast television can not only adapt, but thrive. Local TV acts as a powerful influence in communities because of its trust among viewers, its connectedness to the community, and its ability to forge closer relationships with brands.

TVB Forward 2017 was full of highlights—from new measurement protocols and adapting social media to local TV brands to ascertaining the financial health of certain important sales categories.

Toward a Better Measurement

TV measurement capabilities are certainly seeing meaningful strides forward: The big announcement at the start of the meeting was that Live Viewing +1 will be the new local currency to measure delivery. This should more closely match local TV with national measurement and has the capacity to post additional impressions to help meet delivery goals. The Television Bureau of Advertising (TVB) has also been working with the Media Rating Council on a best practices document for conducting an audit.

Also progressing are the continuing efforts to capture all viewing—no matter when or where. Bill Livek, executive vice chairman at comScore, believes local measurement is going cross-platform within the next two years.

“We need to measure every minute that a consumer is watching local content, wherever that minute is, and that measurement needs to have advanced demographics,” Livek said. “And we are very close.”

Advancing and Automating Done Locally

Adopting audience-based advertising on the local level through automated and programmatic TV will enable local broadcasters to leverage their inventory and more efficiently target consumers. The potential for rapid growth is there, but companies must make the technology easier to buy and the process more efficient. And there’s still a challenge poised by overly complex legacy systems that are inflexible with today’s expansive datasets, segmentations, and protocols. Some executives on the panel called for a major clean-up of these entrenched systems.

Shereta Williams, president at Videa, sees a bright future: “We are evolving from the experimental stage to a real business stage, moving annual buys to our platforms.” But, she noted, there should be a focus on business rules and processes to gain the right balance. To secure continued growth, marketplaces need to put inventory in the platform and make it easier to buy to get better value across inventory.

“Disaggregated must re-aggregate,” Williams said.

Local Keeps Its Crown

Nielsen studies have proven the real value in local news, reporting adults watch more local news than ever—and spend double the amount of time watching the news on the local level than on the national.

Kelly Abcarian, senior vice president of product leadership at Nielsen, mentioned local news viewing was up in the first quarter of 2017 over news from sources such as national broadcast and cable. But it’s an evolving landscape, as TV households are changing and have more access points to TV content. Abcarian believes the rise of virtual multi-channel video programming distributors (MVPDs) is recapturing viewers for TV via streaming. Elina Greenstein, director of channel partnerships at GroundTruth, advised conference attendees to use digital as an extender.

Through all of local TV’s opportunities and challenges, one thing is clear: We all need to embrace change. As Williams said, “Innovation is the courage to change before you have to. Disruption is change because you have to. Lean in, pick wisely, and have options.”

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