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Can Local TV Compete With Google and Facebook in Advertising?

October 3rd, 2018   ||    by John R. Osborn

When it comes to advertising, can local TV compete with Google and Facebook?

The two companies have employed ad targeting data to grab huge amounts of ad dollars in the digital space, despite only entering the ad business in the early 2000s. By launching breakthrough technology platforms with innovative new and “free” consumer services (search, social networking), Google and Facebook now enjoy 27.6 percent of all digital ad revenue. eMarketer predicted that by 2019, the two companies will have combined ad revenues that will surpass that of TV ad spending.

As digital and nondigital silos are falling, TV and video are becoming the integrated vehicle of T/V (television/video). To date, no one except Amazon seems in position to take on the “duopoly,” because no area of advertising has the scale of addressability through data. But isn’t T/V heading in that direction?

How Can Local TV Compete with Google and Facebook?

With the recent General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), understanding the legal and ethical responsibilities for viewer data collection and usage will be a critical element of future addressable and programmatic T/V advertising.

Both Google and Facebook are showing vulnerability, having been recently forced to deal with lax data handling (Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica scandal and subsequent crash in stock value) and regulatory challenges (the $5 billion EU anti-trust fine recently imposed on Google). The lack of data transparency from the two behemoths has even shaken trust among advertising customers—their life’s blood.

T/V providers have a real opportunity to do things right, and not just because enforceable legislation is taking hold in Europe and California. The opening lies in the fact that television, and particularly local TV, has built a level of unmatched trust and reliability over the past 70 years. Even Twitter uses local TV news to counter exploitative fake news in moments of crisis. Local content providers and advertisers can build on that trust while avoiding the data ownership traps into which Facebook and Google have fallen.

Data Ownership

A Guardian piece on data ownership revealed an innovative approach that challenges the centralized holding of consumer data by a few less-than-transparent companies. It refers us to Solid, a project at MIT that aims to improve data ownership and privacy. The project involves creating software that will separate users’ personal data from apps and servers that capture it.

As the World Wide Web opened us to the internet, MIT’s new venture may restore data trust and privacy across the internet, which is becoming the primary delivery avenue for T/V programming and ads. Who but local TV has better credentials to lead the way by embracing and supporting this and other initiatives that build on the legacy of trust—with viewers and advertisers—that the Google/Facebook “duopoly” is in the process of fumbling?

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