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Marketers Must Disrupt Operations to Achieve One Audience Everywhere

Advertisers are on the verge of executing a “one audience everywhere” strategy, thanks to decades of technological progress. But before advertisers can execute that strategy and reap the benefits in media efficiency and advertising effectiveness, they must first clear some operational hurdles.

The next generation of ad tech is built for convergence. The previous generation wasn’t.

To understand the first generation of programmatic advertising—the model advertisers must now disrupt—we need to consider the fundamental challenges the last generation of ad tech solved for, and ask what’s changed in the intervening years.

The first generation of programmatic advertising technology was built to create value in remnant display media. The tech was based on two key assumptions: First, you’ll always have user measurement (browser cookies). Second, supply is infinite—which means marketers can plug in their audiences and cherry-pick only those impressions they want to buy. Today, television and digital media are converging, and those two assumptions are no longer true. Measurement for both connected TV and linear TV is fundamentally different and occurs through viewership panels. Meanwhile, premium TV supply is constrained. As a result, the TV marketplace transacts in upfronts. As a recent Forrester report found, we have a new generation of ad tech built for convergence that marries an upfront buying model with targeting and optimization capabilities.

While the future is converged media, the present is defined by outdated operational models, fragmentation and changing audience behavior. According to a Nielsen report, audiences access media in a myriad of ways simultaneously. These dynamics weren’t in place when the previous generation of ad tech was built. That’s why the most pressing challenge is the fact that most marketing enterprises operating today are built for a siloed media ecosystem.

On the one hand, there’s digital and mobile—an increasing amount of which is being activated in-house by brands. On the other side, there’s television, which remains the province of the agency. Advertisers think about how to allocate budget and resources between channels, which is a polite way of saying: every channel must fight for dollars and relevance within the organization. That friction persists, however, because we’re missing the common measurement across channels, as well as the planning and operational/organizational alignment needed to bridge them together.

Advertisers need to move quickly and disrupt their operations

By connecting television with digital, advertisers can focus on audiences. For example, it’s now possible to utilize your first-party digital audience data to drive your linear upfront planning. Using the same audience data and converged measurements ensures your TV and digital buys all work in unison. But the next step requires brands to align budgets, operations and organizations. Whether digital or television, in-house or agency, teams need to agree on common data processes and tools. Some may see this as an invitation for a turf war. But that mindset is counterproductive because it misses the forest for the trees.

The key objective of this disruption is to create an alignment that delivers ongoing synchronization. Changes to the television portion of an audience-based media plan inevitably impact the digital side and vice versa. Or, put another way, executing a “one audience everywhere” strategy means that all stakeholders must come together and work in unison because fragmentation and changing consumer behavior make the idea of favoring one channel over another untenable.

Ultimately, brands that synchronize operations will align the buy and sell-side around their audiences. The faster advertisers can pull off this disruption, the better. In the short-run, there’s an advantage for any brand that can exploit the inefficiency in the current misaligned market. But long-term, marketers need to build expertise around “one audience everywhere” strategies. The sooner marketers learn the new model, the faster they’ll be able to apply those lessons and identify opportunities they haven’t considered yet.

Author Philip Smolin is chief strategy officer for Amobee. As chief strategy officer, Philip Smolin is responsible for driving Amobee’s global strategy and key growth initiatives that integrate data, analytics and programmatic activation to deliver industry-leading solutions for global marketers operating on the Amobee platform.