Introducing Simulmedia’s TV+®, the Most Advanced Platform for TV Advertising – Ever
You don’t have to live-tweet Yellowstone, follow Zendaya on Instagram, or post Tik Tok’s about This Is Us to realize that television is squarely (or, rather, rectangularly) at the center of our cultural lives like never before in the medium’s 80-plus-year history.
Even with all the social networks, messaging apps and addictive games literally in the palms of our hands, Americans are still watching more and more video content on TV year after year (in fact, the 559 original scripted shows that aired in primetime in 2021 set a new all-time record). Smart connected TV sets and internet-delivered streaming services – which now number over 200 – are complementing, extending and in many cases replacing the viewing of content delivered through linear cable and satellite set-top boxes and traditional broadcast antennas. As Michael Wolff put it, “television is the new television.”
Streaming publishers and services now reach more than 67% of the adult population, with 82 million of the 120 million households in the U.S. streaming an average of 100 hours of content each month, according to Comscore. Between 2020 and 2021, both the number of CTV households and total hours watching CTV increased by 20%, while the number of SVOD (subscription video on demand) services used on average by consumers doubled between 2016 and 2021, per eMarketer.
Meanwhile, Nielsen notes that broadcast and cable still account for a substantial 64% percent of total TV usage each month with streaming accounting for about 28% on average. When it comes to pure scale, linear is still unsurpassed. In terms of advertising over the past year, that all added up to an estimated $66 billion in linear TV ad spend, compared to $14 billion for CTV, according to eMarketer.
Escalation of Fragmentation
So, 30 years after Bruce Springsteen sang about “57 channels and nothin’ on,” today’s consumers have more choices than ever before, with thousands of channels and plenty on. The mood is less sanguine among TV media buyers, however. Yes, viewership is up overall, and ad-supported streaming services are growing: nearly 128 million people in the U.S. watched advertising-based video-on-demand (AVOD) in 2021, up 18% over 2020, with over 50% of all digital video viewers in the U.S. watching AVOD, according to eMarketer.
But therein lies the challenge: with so many networks and so much content, massive audience fragmentation across the TV landscape – already a concern – is only accelerating. As Adweek reported, “The fragmentation of viewing behavior is the single biggest issue requiring industry attention in 2022. [It] applies to audience behavior both across streaming services—like identifying (or not identifying) a person on both Disney’s Hulu and NBCU’s Peacock—and across CTV and linear. Plus, over 60 million U.S. households watch both linear and CTV, which can easily lead to wasteful, duplicated reach for advertisers, “which translates to wasted budgets, which media agencies and brands have been beating the drum on for years to little avail.”
The new targeting technologies available on the streaming side are supposed to mitigate some of these issues, but they don’t account for linear TV. And when it comes to audience and ad measurement of CTV, a huge credibility problem looms as long as the collective strategy among CTV’s biggest players continues to be “take our word for it,” as Mike Shields noted.
Longtime TV measurement leader Nielsen is working to completely revamp and replace its historical TV ratings with a data-driven cross-platform video measurement product called Nielsen ONE. And a host of digital-native players are partnering with media conglomerates to provide specific measurement capabilities (campaign and outcome measurement, conversion tracking, real-time TV measurement, etc.) in the hopes of creating secondary media currencies that can complement Nielsen. But currently, the need for a third-party cross-channel source of truth based on independent, verified panels unified with linear TV (where the majority of ads are still viewed) remains unfulfilled.
As for the video ad buying process itself, it too is more divided than united, with duties often divvied up between siloed TV and digital teams.
The result of all this fragmentation on multiple levels is the need for more media vendors, more data vendors, more intermediaries and just more work for advertisers trying to find and convert their targets across a complex viewing ecosystem with a minimum of waste. Marketers are in dire need of solutions that bridge the worlds of linear and CTV advertising as they exist today.
This is precisely the moment that Simulmedia has been preparing for since 2008.
A Vision for the Future of TV Advertising
Simulmedia was launched in 2008 to, stated simply, bring a digital approach to TV advertising. Why did we focus on TV? Because it had long been considered the “adult table” of the advertising world, the last bastion of Mad Men-style media practices: ads bought and sold by faxes; phone calls or handshakes over drinks; creative trafficked by messenger service or FedEx; and campaign measurement reports delivered months after ads had aired, detailing only the total weight of campaign deliveries and ads targeted on broad sex and age demographics. In other words, a business in desperate need of being brought into the digital age.
At that time, our vision was that TV-delivered video advertising could only grow in value as it became internet-delivered and addressable, though we still recognized that certain challenges for advertisers were inevitable along the journey to that new paradigm:
- As the number of publishers and distributors increased dramatically with Internet delivery, fragmentation of both TV audiences and ad inventory would also increase.
- The silos that had historically separated TV buyers from their digital media counterparts would have to be bridged.
- Similarly, the separation between planning and buying in the world of TV would have to be short-circuited.
- Television in its multichannel totality – not just what was streamed and addressable – would need to be targetable and measurable at a granular, unified and transparent audience-based impression level, just like digital.
- Privacy protection would need to be built in by design, something even digital media has (and continues to) struggle with.
While our prognostication was pretty spot on, we were admittedly optimistic about how soon TV advertising would shift from traditional planning systems based on broad demos to a data-driven approach centered around audience-based buying.
The Evolution of Our Innovation
In the years between our company launch and this watershed moment, we have been busy leveraging data, science and software to solve the problems we saw (and foresaw) TV advertisers facing, leading us to power more data-driven campaigns for clients across more national linear TV networks than any other company in this space – a position we’re proud to have held from 2008 to this very day.
But while our mission to make TV and video a smart, accountable and hard-working driver of awareness and growth for brands has remained consistent, our methods evolved throughout our history:
2009: We launched the software-driven Simulmedia Audience Network to introduce data-driven, people-based, cross-network TV media campaigns with web-like ad targeting and measurement.
2010: We began building a7, a proprietary technology platform that added automated first-party targeting, audience analytics, outcome measurements and guaranteed audience delivery to our arsenal. This would allow large brand advertisers and their agencies to cost-effectively extend reach to their targets.
2015: We released our Video Advertising Marketing Operating System (VAMOS), which used predictive algorithms and massively automated workflow processes to allow us to deliver in days what advertisers would have to wait weeks or months for elsewhere.
2018: We debuted D2Cx.com, the industry’s first-ever marketplace specifically for democratizing access to national linear TV advertising at an affordable cost for direct-to-consumer brands and growth marketers.
Missing from this timeline? 2012, specifically June of that year. In Adweek, an analyst was touting broadcast television as “the must-buy medium for most large national advertisers. As much as we’ll see some slippage as online and mobile usage grows, only the very tip of the iceberg is in danger of melting.” Over at the Variety Entertainment & Technology Summit, meanwhile, Comcast execs were crowing about “cable’s better business model.” Netflix had 23 million subscribers, and Fox, CBS and NBC had just taken Dish Network to court over its new “Auto Hop” option, which automatically stripped out commercials from DVR’d programs. “We believe this threat to the existing mass audience advertising model could destabilize the entire television ecosystem,” they warned.
What didn’t get reported is that on June 25, 2012, Simulmedia filed for a trademark with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. It was for a mark representing an approach to television advertising that the industry wasn’t yet ready for. But nearly 10 years later, it’s finally time.
We are thrilled to now officially launch TV+, the fifth generation of our advanced TV buying platform, designed for national TV advertisers looking to drive cohesive campaigns across both linear TV and CTV channels. TV+ is the culmination of 14 years of focus, hard work and a ton of iteration by the Simulmedia team. TV+ enables smart premium video ad planning, buying, activation, and measurement for national campaigns across all major networks and publishers with unparalleled certainty, efficiency and speed. It’s an automated platform that allows advertisers to plan and buy in a manner that reflects how viewers actually watch and stream television today.
Cross-Channel TV Reach
Other buying platforms focus on CTV as a standalone offering, or try to stitch together a nationwide quilt of local linear inventory. Individual TV networks and streamers can only reach their own viewers or subscribers. TV+, on the other hand, answers the endemic problem of fragmentation by providing advertisers with the largest, aggregated scaled reach via the widest swath of cross-network, cross-company partnerships and integrations available. Our unique ability to target audiences across the TV landscape today is the result of our years of TV advertising experience, deep direct relationships with top networks and streaming providers, and patented spot-level buying methodology.
We have the ability to plan and buy media across more than 250 national broadcast and cable stations and streaming platforms and publishers, promising marketers seamless access to over 300 million viewers in the U.S. across 120 million households. No one else can guarantee full domestic audience reach across ad-supported channels like we can.
And since, as noted earlier, we know that the majority of U.S. viewers regularly watch broadcast, cable and streaming, we made sure TV+ could identify overlap in audiences across the TV ecosystem. This helps us to pinpoint the most cost-effective impressions across all the premium inventory that we have access to in order to boost overall reach, deliver incremental CTV-only audiences and, most of all, prevent wasteful and expensive audience duplication.
Speed and Simplicity
In a world where attention spans are measured in thumb swipes on social feeds, brands cannot afford to wait weeks, much less months, for their campaigns to get into market, but that’s the timing required by competitive alternatives such as agencies and networks. Advertisers are getting locked in far in advance with no ability to adjust their plans based on changing business needs or the larger environment. (Spare a thought for the brands who committed ad budgets during the traditional upfront TV ad-buying cycle in 2021, only to see their products stranded on ships stuck in ports during the supply-chain crisis.)
In contrast, the level of automation offered by TV+ lets advertisers plan, activate and traffic campaigns in a matter of days or even hours, while the flexibility and agility of our platform enables us to respond, plan and deliver on bespoke scenarios based on the needs of our clients, whether that means contextual buys alongside audience targets or incremental reach on CTV. With TV+, advertisers can be more proactive, dynamic, and nimble in their strategies based on market conditions and other unforeseen needs.
Perhaps best of all, TV+ provides a full end-to-end solution that encompasses planning, activation, trafficking, reconciliation, measurement and reporting, and performance insights natively and via third-party partnerships as needed. Advertisers are no longer obliged to cobble various vendors together – or navigate those frustrating TV/digital silos among buyers – in order to bring their campaigns to life.
Instead, TV+ makes the process incredibly easy for TV advertisers. We obviate the burden of negotiating and managing numerous buys across linear networks and CTV platforms; rather, we ingest and normalize all the data on the Simulmedia end, while taking on all the operational overhead and corresponding costs to provide scaled reach.
In an era of rapid and unexpected changes for businesses and their customers, our extensive network relationships, agreements, and automated processes also provide the assurance of delivery across premium inventory through TV+.
Our proprietary machine-learning technology accurately forecasts where an advertiser’s target audience will be watching and/or streaming, leveraging first or third-party data. Our new budget recommendation tool guides marketers by providing the optimal linear/CTV split to drive the most cost-effective incremental reach at different media budget levels. Then our patented buying algorithm selects the spots that will generate that reach, with guaranteed impression delivery, certainty of business outcomes and unmatched value.
TV+ also provides advertisers with real-time reporting at an extremely granular level: by network/publisher, program, daypart and day of the week on linear and CTV. But we alone can't solve all of the cross-channel measurement challenges facing the industry. That's why we have partnered with leading third-party TV data, inventory, and measurement providers to give advertisers complete transparency into all key performance metrics for both in-flight and completed TV campaigns. Unlike so many others, we don’t grade our own homework.
Built for Today, Optimized for Tomorrow
When we launched Simulmedia almost a decade and a half ago, our first-ever press release said: “In a world of fragmenting viewership, building a valuable audience at scale is what it is all about.” That’s been at the core of our promise to our clients – whether established businesses, entertainment marketers, direct-to-consumer brands, scrappy challengers or mid-sized agencies – and always will be.
But while we’re fully confident that TV+ will provide unmatched advantages to advertisers today and tomorrow, we’re equally sure that our platform will continue to evolve to meet their needs and overcome their challenges in the longer term, as both TV/video technology and consumer behavior inevitably change in ways that will be incredibly exciting and totally unanticipated.
Except, of course, by us.