As Convergence Continues, Digital Ad Ops Should Consult the TV Playbook - Broadcasting & Cable

As Convergence Continues, Digital Ad Ops Should Consult the TV Playbook

Fragmented digital ad market would benefit from embracing linear fundamentals

What exactly are the best practices that underpin creative workflow in TV that we can (and should) port over to digital? To my mind, they boil down to fundamental building blocks of centralized ad ingest, centralized traffic and a standardized means of identifying those creative assets. -Tom Falcone, VP, Digital Media Relations, Extreme Reach

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From a consumer perspective, the convergence of television and digital has been quick and relatively seamless. As of June 2017, 58.7% of TV Households owned at least one device capable of streaming digital content on their TVs (source: Nielsen), and, in the US, more TV households have access to Netflix (54%) than a DVR (53%).

But along with the massive increase in digital content distribution and consumption come behind-the-scenes problems that the consumer never sees: digital publishers’ ad operations teams are facing an onslaught of ad assets in many shapes and sizes due to the absence of an accepted system for handling ads in a content everywhere world.

You might think that if traditional TV can handle commercials, then certainly digital channels can do even better, right? But where television advertising is orderly and centralized, digital evolved with a maze of vendors, seemingly-mile-high tech stacks and fragmented team structures. And if we’re aiming for a future where digital and broadcast reach equanimity, then digital will benefit greatly from embracing some of the fundamentals that make the $75 billion linear market move effortlessly.

Consider this very real example of a well-oiled broadcast machine: NBC Universal runs some 25+ broadcast and cable networks from a centralized media operations center. This one facility is responsible for handling, in my estimation, more than 50,000 spots per year, and that includes quality control, ingestion and trafficking. Processing this massive load of content requires adherence to strict protocols and guidelines. Everything is centralized, and as the assets move through the series of processes, they must either meet certain standards or they get rejected. It’s this standardization that enables NBCU’s many linear channels to run in sync, on time and in perfect quality.

What exactly are the best practices that underpin creative workflow in TV that we can (and should) port over to digital? To my mind, they boil down to fundamental building blocks of centralized ad ingest, centralized traffic and a standardized means of identifying those creative assets. The absence of these in digital ad ops means a multitude of emails to many account managers, conflicting information about the ad specs needed for different platforms and no agreed upon method of identifying creative assets. The result is countless hours wasted in unnecessary back and forth and delays in campaign launches.

Just imagine an ad ops world where all creative assets, tags and instructions would be sent to and received by a centralized group. There would be a single, consolidated and consistent drop off point for clients. And clients would know when their assets were delivered through simple permissions and email distribution lists.

The good news is that big premium programmers know this first hand and are already deep into solving the creative workflow and ops challenges that have evolved along with the new media landscape. We expect to see the industry jump on that bandwagon, taking a page from the reliable workflows that have served traditional TV so well for many years. Ad Ops teams are ready to embrace a simpler, more sensible approach and there’s no question that brands and agencies will benefit from truly leveraging all the new and innovative opportunities to connect with consumers. So let’s go! We have an exciting future to tend to.

Tom Falcone, VP, Digital Media Relations at Extreme Reach, has spent the last decade leading affiliate relations teams, first in linear TV and now in digital video and advanced TV.

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