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Getting With the Programmatic Program

Related: Upfront Signs Point To Programmatic Gains

Automated, data-driven programmatic ad models cut their teeth in the digital world but are rapidly becoming a key element for cable programmers, MSOs and other traditional multichannel video programming distributors (MVPDs). Aiming to bridge the gap between legacy approaches and new platforms is Doug Bognar, who recently joined AdMore and its short-form direct response TV provider, REVShare, as executive director of media sales, with a focus on cable operators, IPTV platforms, satellite-TV providers and other distributors. Bognar, who came to AdMore from Delivery Agent, spoke with Multichannel News technology editor and Next TV editor Jeff Baumgartner about his priorities, how MVPDs are gravitating to programmatic ad technologies, and what he views as the big opportunities and challenges ahead. An edited transcript follows.

You came on board at the company about a month ago. Can you fill us in on your focus and your top priorities in the early going?

Doug Bognar: My focus is on our AdMore platform, which is the programmatic element of the…product portfolio. I’m utilizing the context I’ve made with the MVPDs over the years and those existing relationships that we’ve had, and to do more business with those existing providers. [My focus] is also to build out more of the MVPDs and to have more of them accept our AdMore platform. It’s actually not that bad of a gig when you [can] approach someone and say, “Let me send you some money.”

As you talk to some of the MVPDs and cable operators, what’s going to be your elevator pitch to them?

DB: First, there’s still not a commonly accepted definition of programmatic TV among most of the MVPDs out there. However, there are a number of the unwired platforms playing in this space. Our strength relative to our [competitors] is the scale, and that we are fully integrated with multiple DMPs [data-management platforms]…with the aspects that there’s a seamless insertion order to access a number of linear, syndicated, local cable and network cable inventory sources.

The fact that all dayparts are in play and all the programming is in play, which are limitations [found] on other programmatic or unwired networks, also gives us an advantage. And this will be common among most, but [we] are able to target a desirable, hard-to-reach audience better than most. And there’s the horsepower we have on the analytics side.

Let’s talk a bit more about inventory. Are you focused on all forms, not just remnant inventory? What’s the mix?

DB: It’s really not restricted to remnant as it used to be. We’re talking about local cable inventory, but the attraction from the MVPD perspective is that they have leverage. They’re controlling the data, they control the technology and, of course, they control the inventory. The ability, in a more detailed way, to target a specific demographic increases the value of that inventory that they control. And when you’re able to target and you’ve increased that value of the inventory, you’re able to bring national advertisers to that local inventory. These are very powerful stories and drivers for MVPDs to play in this space.

What’s the level of activity and interest now with programmatic television among MVPDs? Is it in the crawl, walk or run phase?

DB: Infancy is not the right way to describe it, but it’s certainly still growing. I’d say we’re in that transition from the walk to the run phase. The key, of course, is the automated aspect of it, in that it’s a low-cost system for both buyers and sellers. The effort is to eliminate those bottlenecks in the system — that’s the people and staff and the length of time that’s required to make decisions on a given piece of inventory. The automation aspect is still building out in most cases.

There is a reluctance to give up the control of the inventory to an automated process, and that’s not just something that’s relative to the television advertising business. But as the systems are proved out, the data will show that the automated systems will provide a higher value for both the advertiser and the seller. Then this [model] will obviously become more accepted.