Has The Day Of The Single-Line National TV Budget Passed?

Joe Germscheid

Sr. Director, Agency Relations

Originally posted on MediaPost

Since the advent of digital media, there has almost always been more than one budget line devoted to digital. At first there might have been a simple single line for banners, but that didn’t last very long. Soon came a line item for search marketing, then Search Engine Optimization, Rich Media, Video, Social, Native and now Programmatic (which can be split even further into display, video and native!).

In the digital world, it is not uncommon for separate agencies or departments to plan and execute those myriad line items. It has led to so many categories within categories that it boggles the mind. Some larger agency companies can say they handle it all, but are they really best-in-class at everything? And isn’t that what clients are looking for?

Meanwhile, TV has remained relatively the same. Just one lonely single line meant to deliver national GRPs. Sure, we spiced it up with DR and syndication now and then, but that’s about as exotic as we got. One could argue that broadcast and cable need different lines, but who really thinks that way anymore? I might grant you the difficult decisions regarding the amount to spend upfront vs. the scatter market, but that’s all still just TV.

We all know that television is being driven down the same data path as digital. The entire marketing world acknowledges that as truth. Why, then, are marketers relying on and expecting their traditional TV planners and buyers to be expert in all things new in television such as audience buying, programmatic, and business outcomes as a success metric? We didn’t expect those same agency organizations to handle every digital detail every time. Yet marketers do expect their lone TV-buying agency to adapt, test and analyze new advances in television. There are some pretty compelling reasons for that ($70 billion+ reasons) as the economics of the ad agency world still brew compensation in bulk. With advances in the TV world, new technology is becoming mainstream. Many marketers are beginning to beg for TV to be as accountable as digital. Traditionally planned and purchased TV can deliver media based measurements all day (GRPs, CPMs) but they struggle in the digitally influenced concept of return on ad spend.

Am I advocating data-driven buying specialty shops? Maybe, and maybe not. In the very least, marketers could make a start by separating their budgets for traditionally planned contextually delivered TV and data enhanced TV efforts. Once that first step is made, then agents and clients can determine the real value in advanced TV and how it will fit into future programs. Will that breed a subcategory of TV? That remains to be seen.

The complexity of a data-driven TV world is just beginning to show benefits to those advertisers who are looking for business outcomes – vs. just ad exposure – and the new efficiencies they bring. Marketers should embrace the fact that traditional TV won’t fit in a business outcome-driven world. The new TV budget decision shouldnt be how much to commit in the upfront and what to save for scatter. It should be how much to devote to data driven, ROI-focused TV and what to save for contextual.

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