TV Automation: Unlocking Value and Speed for Sellers of TV Advertising

Mary Grace Scully

Content Specialist

Just as it is increasingly common for traditional brands to eventually embrace technology to remain competitive in their industries - think cars adding driver-assist capabilities and local restaurants joining food-delivery apps - forward-thinking linear TV networks have started to embrace technology that eliminates time-consuming communication and workflow between buyers and sellers. This ‘automated’ workflow is a significant component of programmatic TV. It makes TV buying more efficient for all parties, and Simulmedia is excited to play a leading role in the transformation.

Automating workflow “is a way for computers to talk to each other in the same way most TV buyers pick up the phone and ask a network, ‘What’s your rate? How many impressions against this demo can you get for my budget?’” explains Pravin Chandramani, Senior Vice President of Business Development at Simulmedia.

Its benefits stand to democratize the entire industry. Simulmedia’s research illustrates, the top 191 brands contribute to about 80% of linear TV ad spend (Source: Nielsen Ad Intel, Simulmedia VAMOS 2018). That creates precarious network dependency on a relatively small cadre of advertisers and is dependant on a high-touch, sales driven approach. “It takes a network the same amount of time to book a $1 million linear TV ad campaign as a $10,000 campaign, so a network is disincentivized to spend the time working on that cheaper campaign.” As a result several brands who have smaller, last minute budgets find themselves locked out of TV and use Google and Facebook, whose automated systems are built to cater to the long-tail of advertising.

TV automation changes this dynamic. It gives networks access to more buyers, including direct-to-consumer (D2C) brands and others outside the top 191. In addition, automation will significantly lower the network’s threshold cost to service a buyer. This stands to open TV advertising to thousands of brands with smaller budgets. Simulmedia estimates that the television industry can gain an incremental $10B more dollars in the next five years on the basis of such automation alone.

Automation will significantly lower the network’s threshold cost to service a buyer. This stands to open TV advertising to thousands of brands with smaller budgets.

Taking the lead on this level of automation is NBCUniversal, which has developed an application programming interface (API) that’s necessary for computers to communicate. This API allows other automated programs to see directly into its inventory supply, enabling buyers to view media availability and submit orders without manual intervention. Simulmedia is one of the first companies with the technology to fully utilize NBCUniversal’s API. Once Simulmedia’s technology and their API connected, the time spent scheduling campaigns drastically decreased. That’s important because Simulmedia’s platform regularly executes campaigns that feature 1,000 or more spots on 50 or more networks.

Pravin recently spoke about Simulmedia’s partnership with NBCUniversal and their investments in automation at the Bernstein 6th Annual Future of Media Summit. He explained that transparency of media availability of the kind NBCUniversal has enabled, combined with Simulmedia’s own data automation, makes linear TV buying extremely efficient and targeted.

NBCUniversal is among the leaders of API-based automation, but Simulmedia expects more to follow. Until then, Simulmedia is taking steps to work with the rest of the industry to improve communication efficiency by investing in demand fulfillment capabilities, which will expose insight around ad yield.

They also will expedite the communication and workflow between buyers and sellers and enable the sell-side to easily automate their processes in the absence of an API. “We are working to alleviate the sell-side’s need to manually manage orders, manage inventory rates, and complete other routine functions,” says Jamaal Bourgeois, Simulmedia’s Senior Product Manager of Demand Fulfillment. “This will significantly accelerate transactions and give TV advertising’s sellers more and faster insights about the value of their inventory.”

TV automation won’t happen overnight, but the split-second transactions that will come as a result will make the switch well-worth it for networks, brands and their agencies.

Interested in getting the latest from Simulmedia?

News, insights, and events sent straight to your inbox!