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The Much-Needed Breakdown of Siloed TV Buying in the Pandemic

Lamenting siloes within the marketing world is like lamenting fleas on a dog. They’re irritating, we take great pains to rid ourselves of them—but ultimately, it seems like they come with the territory. But that mustn’t weaken our resolve to continue attacking the problem. Siloes have long been an issue within the TV media buying landscape, with the challenge becoming more pronounced in recent years with the rise of OTT, VOD and digital. 

Jason Swartz, VP, Advanced Advertising, New Business and National Sales, NYI

Jason Swartz, VP, Advanced Advertising, New Business and National Sales, NYI (Image credit: New York Interconnect)

As an industry, we’ve been making steady progress when it comes to integrating the power of linear with emerging opportunities in OTT, VOD and digital. And now, the pandemic has reminded us why we need to accelerate our efforts in tearing down walls within TV buying. Let’s look at the new pressures the siloed TV buying process faces in the pandemic, and the areas where the greatest effort needs to be made in uniting efforts. 

Shifting Behaviors, Budgets and Buying Vehicles

What was a gradual current propelling us toward a more-integrated TV advertising landscape has become a tidal wave in the pandemic. We’re seeing multiple forces converge in this regard—behavior, economics and logistics alike. 

Consumer shifts. It’s no secret that the pandemic and its associated lockdowns have driven a tremendous spike in consumer OTT viewing behavior. Sean Adams, senior director of the global ad platform at Roku, recently noted that the increase in OTT is proving to be much more than just a pandemic-related blip. We are seeing a greater surge in streaming viewership, which means buying around events is going to be a more-nuanced, cross-channel endeavor going forward.  

Budgetary pressures. Of course, despite the surge in audience attention across new TV modalities, today’s marketers are operating in a new financial reality. For many brands, that means doing more with less, including in the TV realm. This has led a lot of marketers to dig deeper when it comes to understanding addressable TV opportunities and how they can leverage their budgets to target more precisely and in a measurable capacity. 

Buying processes. The desire to minimize fragmentation across media buys and unify measurement across channels has also prompted calls in the industry for media organizations to make it simple to buy linear in partnership with OTT, VOD, digital and other video opportunities. Some networks and media sales organizations now offer advertisers the opportunity to target audiences across every platform (think linear, OTT and addressable) in one media buy. The industry is slowly moving forward, but it’s up to the organizations themselves to create holistic opportunities that work.

The Pursuit of Alignment 

The pressures on the fragmented TV landscape have accelerated over the past six months. It’s time, in turn, for the breakdown in siloed processes and systems to accelerate concurrently. In this regard, there are two key places where our industry needs to focus: 

Team structures. These days, responsibility for buying among the ever-expanding array of TV inventory has become an area fraught with division, uncertainty and inconsistency among brands and agencies. Some linear teams have been tasked with purchasing digital modalities, while some digital teams have been tasked with absorbing emerging TV channels into their purviews. Neither approach is perfect. Only in breaking down the walls between teams to understand the impact of cross-channel TV buys in full context of other initiatives can marketers hope to properly optimize their efforts.

Measurement. Much of today’s fragmentation and uncertainty among TV buying teams is mirrored within the question of measurement. While traditional linear buys generally still communicate in the language of GRPs (though some have made the transition to CRM), emerging opportunities in OTT, connected TV, VOD and others tend to speak the language of digital as it relates to attribution. Now, more than ever, we need to be uniting our understanding of cross-channel effectiveness around audiences and identity, which is an area where players like LiveRamp are taking great strides. 

As those planning content and advertising seek to bridge the gaps among linear, OTT, VOD and digital, the fractured TV landscape faces pressures anew, with the pandemic introducing new dynamics to the conversation. These dynamics aren’t fleeting. They’re here to stay, and they demand action. As an industry, it’s time for all players to come together to break down the walls—walls between teams, measurement modalities and legacy mindsets—to enable the full growth potential of TV and all its manifestations going into 2021 and beyond. 

New York Interconnect (NYI) is a joint venture between Altice USA, Charter Communications, and Comcast that connects brands to over 20 million consumers in the nation’s #1 market.