Programmatic Part of the Upfront #AdvancedAd

New York -- Although concerns remain about deflating inventory pricing and disrupting the way TV buying and selling has been conducted over the decades, programmatic sales are becoming more ingrained in the industry's fiber, taking its place at the table during Madison Avenue’s annual negotiating rite of spring.

Todd Gordon, executive vice president, U.S. director of the Magna Global division of Mediabrands, speaking here during the opening keynote of NewBay Media’s conference Advanced Advertising: Profiting From a Targeted Audience on Wednesday afternoon, said clients and networks don’t necessarily construe programmatic per se as being part of the upfront. Nonetheless, he said “we’re having discussions with top players" interested in more-targeted, granular, tech-driven information.

“That’s all part of the conversations being done for the upfront for sure,” he said, noting that The Walt Disney Co. and its ABC broadcast network were aggressively open to such targeting considerations during the 2013-14 upfront media bazaar.

Erica Schmidt, executive vice president, managing director of Cadreen U.S., a technology division of Mediabrands, who also weighed in during the keynote discussion that was facilitated by B&C business editor Jon Lafayette, said that during her 10 years working in London, European publishers were fearful that pricing would decline in the face of automated selling practices.

She said they needed convincing and reassurance that there might be short-term losses, but the publishers came to realize that programmatic assisted them in assessing the true value of their inventory bases.

Schmidt said there have been some similar concerns with the TV equation. However, she said that programmatic plans not only can extend reach and GRPs, but can have an “impact on bottom line results by driving sales. You know how many boxed are shipped off the shelves via this new TV paradigm.”

Gordon said that traditional TV remains the most effective way to get most of the reach clients need. Still, when a media plan reaches the end of that curve, dollars spent programmatically can afford more incremental reach than traditional TV means.

Given data sourcing, programmatic action has occurred with national networks. But Gordon, responding to an audience member’s query about how the platform would play for national spot buys, said Manga is looking how to "harness" in-market consumption data together. "It’s harder to grab hold of, but we’re spending a lot of time thinking about it.”

In Gordon's view, local cable avails are being “undervalued.” The inventory should get better pricing, he said, noting that the technology can enable more buys and drive incremental sales and efficiencies