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People working on blueprints spread over a table in a sunny conference room: local TV data targeting

Local TV Data Targeting: Technology, Quality, and Scalability

March 13th, 2018   ||    by John R. Osborn   ||    No Comments

Sellers and buyers have lived without local TV data targeting forever—but this is changing with the arrival of ATSC 3.0. Data technology pioneer and addressable advertising creator Bill Harvey is a proponent of the belief that data is the new oil, according to his December 2017 MediaVillage column.

Harvey discusses how big data will work for TV stations, station groups, and local buyers as ATSC 3.0 opens a new door to direct viewer interaction and measurement.

TV’s Digital Shortcomings

According to Harvey, TV lacks three things when trying to compete with digital advertising:

  1. Addressability
  2. Measurement
  3. Interactivity

Harvey describes ATSC 3.0 as the “blueprint for standardization of approach,” but cautions this doesn’t mean it’s operational or will be soon. Elements like data gathering, interactivity, on-demand viewing, and local TV data targeting will arrive at different times.

In the short term, Harvey urges a reconsideration of the data non-cooperation pact shared by local cable multi-channel video programming distributors (MVPDs) and local broadcast. “Tap the built-up demand for addressability from TV advertisers,” he said.

Developing win-win revenue streams and experience is important in dealing with the real competition: Facebook, Google, Apple, and ad-expanding Amazon. These are the big-four ad tech powerhouses through which the majority of digital ad spend now flows.

Harvey is researching the incremental value of next dollars spent vis-à-vis ROI for many of these platforms—and is seeing indications that advertisers are over-investing in the big four in a way that erodes their ROI.

He also encourages local TV providers to “dive into streaming” now—collecting, storing, analyzing, and learning from first-party data practices, including addressability and dynamic ad insertion. The apps local stations create for Roku, Google TV, and other streaming-service platforms are already available and need to keep expanding for local TV to establish itself in digital-style revenue models.

A Question of Quality Data

Harvey points out that even Nielsen is providing higher-quality third-party predictive data through strengthened alignments with cable MVPDs and their set-top boxes (STBs). In digital media, data is now gathered, analyzed, and applied at lightning speeds through programmatic and algorithm-driven technologies, such as artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning.

This creates more and more black-box systems that leave the methods of how data are processed—and therefore the quality of that data—invisible to buyers and sellers. That makes data quality desirable for more than just its relevancy and conciseness. Data quality now stands for trust.

Harvey mentions six industry groups now working to ensure transparency and quality of data are upheld—such groups are well worth attention and involvement on the part of local TV buyers and sellers.

The Building Blueprint

Harvey applauds the “blueprint” that ATSC 3.0 offers, yet cautions that full actualization will require much time and investment. It is crucial that local TV selling and buying stakeholders continue to build infrastructure for scalability.

This build can be done by automating the buying and selling process, as well as setting up private marketplace programmatic (PMP) buying and selling systems and data management platforms for broadcast, MVPD, and even combined audience addressability. These efforts must be planned and executed in sync with the planned rollout of ATSC 3.0 capabilities.

The ATSC 3.0 blueprint is like a building blueprint: The frame is already up, and now is the time for engineering and bringing in equipment for construction, one room and one floor at a time. The final edifice will be a shining, new, and robust business built on the most successful ad-supported media model of the past 60 years: TV.

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