Brands and broadcasters must scale programmatic to engage shoppers across devices
A view from Phuong Nyugen

Brands and broadcasters must scale programmatic to engage shoppers across devices

Ebay's director of advertising Phuong Nguyen argues that traditional broadcasters should sit up and pay attention to their digital contemporaries and adopt a fully programmatic...

It's not an exaggeration to say that programmatic trading has transformed digital advertising, introducing new levels of efficiency, insight, and sophistication. That other parts of the industry are also moving to adopt it is a natural progression, and over the last few months, we have seen both ITV and Channel 4 announce they will be trading programmatically.

This is a big step for the TV advertising industry and, speaking as one of the publishers to more progressively embrace programmatic, I’m certain it won’t all be plain sailing. To really reap the benefits that programmatic offers, broadcasters, advertisers and agencies need to anticipate the challenges that the digital advertising industry has already faced – and learn from how it overcame them.

The ‘how’ not the ‘why’

Believe it or not, programmatic is already more than half a decade young – which makes TV broadcasters relatively late to the party. The deciding factor in how successful the TV industry will be in its adoption of programmatic is not ‘why’ they use the technology, but rather ‘how’ they use it, and particularly how progressive broadcasters are as publishers.

If teams decide to merely dip a toe into the programmatic waters, they will be missing a trick

This is as much about organisation as operation. If teams decide to merely dip a toe into the programmatic waters by limiting it to remnant inventory to protect traditional advertising relationships, they will be missing a trick, to say the least and not be putting their best foot forward.

To demonstrate how far programmatic has come and broaden the way it’s used in the industry, we ran a "Programmatic Only Week" earlier this year, when for one week we only ran ads that had been programmatically traded and only accepted bookings made through an automated model. Broadcasters should be similarly ambitious in their approach.

Capitalise on cross device

Programmatic not only allows publishers to understand their audience better, but empowers them to better leverage this understanding by tapping into distinct behavioural patterns. And one of the biggest untapped opportunities for brands and broadcasters is to engage with shoppers across devices.

One of the biggest untapped opportunities for brands and broadcasters is to engage with shoppers across devices

If used to its full potential, programmatic will give broadcasters the potential to understand how and in what context consumers use different screens, and be more intelligent in how they target and sell advertising across them.

The data footprint

One of the most interesting challenges for broadcasters is how they can enhance their data footprint to feed to the programmatic buying process. As a publisher with millions of logged-in users, eBay understands how people are interacting with content. Broadcasters, however, have very little personal information about viewers.

Whether it’s through partnerships with other organisations – such as an extension of ITV’s partnership with Shazam, or even using the likes of Twitter and Facebook – or introducing incentives for users to share information, broadcasters will need to create a value exchange with shoppers to enhance their insight. If they don’t, they will fail to tap into the huge potential of programmatic to bring them closer to audiences.

Bringing in the right people

Last, but by no means least, broadcasters need to understand that programmatic is a new discipline that will require them to take on new talent. A huge stepping-stone in our path to programmatic success has been recruiting people with an aptitude for technology, analysis and creativity, and focussing less on them having long experience in the media industry.

As a slower moving part of the media landscape, broadcasters will need to take personnel risks, occasionally taking on people without a traditional media background, to ensure they have the skills for success.