While there are multiple technology companies that are trying to automate the process of TV ad buying, it isn’t being accepted widely across the industry. There are a handful of TV companies that are using the approach to analyze and do small-scale studies, but very few ads are actually being purchased that way.
Software, not salespeople. Programmatic ad buying is very different from current sales methods. With this level of automation, buyers use computer software to purchase instead of working directly with a salesman. It’s much more streamlined and efficient, but adoption has been slow.
Many media owners are reluctant to offer up their space for sale in the new system. For example, NBCUniversal will be offering “a small amount” of TV inventory available for purchasing, while A&E Networks and Walt Disney are only in the consideration stage. With very little inventory up for purchase the programmatic systems aren’t getting used as often.
More variety, too. This is in stark contrast to the online space where automatic systems have been embraced rapidly. With higher cost efficiencies and granular targeting capabilities, programmatic ad buying for digital media gives advertisers exactly what they need. There’s more variety as well – media buyers can purchase banners, mobile and video ad placements and more from the same system.
Not a seamless transition. Television is different though so there’s not an easy crossover. Major broadcast and cable networks still sell most of their ad inventory through the upfront market in the spring, and strike large deals for multiple blocks of time. There’s simply no incentive to rock the boat in a system that has worked so well for decades.
The TV ad industry is unlikely to change soon, but the technology is in place to make it more refined and accurate. It’s up to content providers to decide how they want their space sold and for the time being, old school is the way to go.