The Promise of “Progra-Manual:” Programmatic Linear TV in the Omnichannel Landscape

"This marriage of programmatic and traditional manual activation is yielding the advent of “progra-manual.” -Adam Paz, Adelphic by Viant

Marketers have long been drawn to programmatic activation because it promises increased transparency, control, efficiency and real-time performance insight. These potential gains are further amplified in the current ecosystem as marketers calibrate their responses to the evolving COVID-19 environment and as media consumption continues to increase at a rapid rate.

With viewing behavior shifting given recent social distancing and quarantine measures, advertisers must have an in-depth understanding of these viewing behaviors in order to be most effective with their ad budgets.

Players in the automation space have long conflated the concept of programmatic purely with real-time bidding (RTB). However, as more traditional channels become available for activation within a DSP environment during this pandemic, there are inherent benefits even if the media transacted isn’t premised on RTB. The best example of this “progra-manual” activation is programmatic linear television.

What traditional channels are being made available in a DSP environment?

One by one, traditional media types like out-of-home, radio and television are being brought into the future via DSP integration, aligning them more closely with the targeting, activation, insights and measurement that is typical of digital.

Some media types, such as online radio and podcast inventory, are transacted via RTB; others might not be. Still there is inherent marketer value in leveraging an automated approach to consolidate the buying processes in one platform while gaining a singular, holistic view of the consumer journey.

This marriage of programmatic and traditional manual activation is yielding the advent of “progra-manual.”

What is programmatic linear television?

Programmatic linear television (PLTV) is an automated approach to the traditional buying and execution of television ads in spot-based programming. While not necessarily addressable, PLTV offers media-level targeting (by show, daypart, network, etc.) and user-level targeting (as defined by players like Nielsen).

Net-net, programmatic linear operationalizes the traditional manual steps involved in the television ad buying workflow.

Programmatic linear is not synonymous with connected TV (CTV) or over-the-top (OTT) activations. CTV denotes a television that is connected to the internet, either through built-in capabilities or a connected device, while OTT indicates video content streamed through the internet to a connected device without the requirement of a traditional cable or satellite service.

Programmatic linear transmits through a traditional cable connection, the standard way people have viewed television from the 1950s all the way through to today.

What are the benefits of programmatic linear?

By consolidating programmatic linear in an omnichannel DSP that is capable of supporting multiple media types, brands can gain a holistic view into the consumer journey. This effectively brings linear side-by-side alongside digital, CTV, OTT, DOOH and audio.

From a planning perspective, offline and online user data can be leveraged to inform household-level insights that drive linear placement strategies. As it relates to activation, programmatic linear marries the same brand-safe media execution marketers expect of linear TV with the transparent reporting intrinsic to digital.

Arguably the most important benefit born of programmatic linear (especially as advertisers look for more performance-driven approaches) is the ability to evaluate incremental reach or full closed loop measurement resulting from cross-channel media exposure (including offline sales metrics).

As the consumer and marketer landscape shifts in near-real-time, and as marketers adjust to the current media ecosystem, it’s critical that advertisers deploy their spend strategically and have a firm grasp of the complete consumer journey to be successful moving forward. “Progra-manual” activation does just that.