Mark Frain warns collective caution on Addressable TV journey

MCN’s Chief Sales and Marketing Officer urges the industry, both media owners and agencies,  not to flip the proverbial horse and cart, and damage Addressable TV’s potential before the journey even starts. We all want to get there, in a measured, business outcome manner.

A few weeks ago I was part of a few collaborative industry events held by AdNews. One included some questionable tattoos, Adland Bailout, and the other a gripping panel discussion with fellow media owners about the future of TV advertising, the Media and Marketing Summit.

As the sales leaders of Seven, Nine, plus ThinkTV boss Kim Portrate and CEO of Publicis media Matt James and I sat together on the stage and agreed there is certainly huge opportunity in Addressable TV, the reality of large scale delivery for Australia, still remains a work in progress.

As Nine’s Stephenson argued, there is a technical complexity of 1-1 advertising to consider, not to mention my own comments around the need to ensure we get the balance of viewer and advertiser experience right. Burnette also warned the audience about the need for reach to be delivered along with addressable.

Many bouncy headlines and comments such as these have been flowing for addressable TV in Australia for a solid six months, but it’s important to note we’re flying awfully close to the sun in terms of our capabilities to actually deliver the Promised Land. The same can be said for global players trotting out similar claims.

Because we can add layers of data, audience and campaign attribution that were previously not possible, Addressable TV has a blue-sky opportunity to reaffirm the effectiveness of TV better than TV has ever been able to, but we must be cautious of promising utopia too soon. In fact, we’re in danger of an arms race to overpromise and position, before we actually have a robust and real product with scale. This is a collective responsibility for both media owners and agencies. Furthermore, when we combine this with the latest headlines around GDPR and it’s yet to be determined local impact on multi-nationals, plus greater data privacy compliance scrutiny than ever before, we may be legally forced to proceed with caution. 

Ultimately, it comes down to how we define addressable TV and ensuring we don’t disappoint advertisers and damage addressable TV’s long-term credentials by slapping on a new, shiny name for targeted online video ads. Better targeting works, when the segmentation remains scale-able to deliver on business objectives. 

For me, there are three definitional phases of Addressable TV advertising:

  1. Programmatic IP and Linear TV trading
  2. IP device-level mobile and connected TVs targeting
  3. TV set top box targeting

Real Addressable TV across these definitions is underpinned by several critical capabilities – robust audience, campaign and business attribution science, professional content and credible data layers.

Although we are making headway in some of these areas, particularly with Oztam and ThinkTV, unfortunately, at present, a surface scratch of the Australian addressable TV market on these parameters would come up a little short. So, as such, although there is some exciting work to come to fruition in time, I urge caution against over promising market expectations for addressable TV’s current capabilities too early.

Addressable TV has unquestionable potential to be one of the most powerful developments for TV advertising in decades, so let’s be careful not to risk the real benefits. Not to mention, make sure the product and advertiser experience can credibly deliver better-defined audiences across professional video content. Plus, empirically prove it delivers better business results.

From here, we can then properly develop our addressable product and then align our ID and segmentation datasets to create genuine market scale. By doing this we can ensure quality customer and prospect targeting, that attribution can be credibly delivered, which in turn means addressable TV has a very strong future.

As I mentioned that Friday at the summit, TV will remain the most powerful medium, but it’s just gotten a whole heap better. So, let’s all strive for our Addressable TV journey to be a non-virtual reality and give it the best shot possible.