COLOGNE — It’s been a long, slow time coming – but now traditional TV is about to undergo a big disruption that it must respond to quickly, says a veteran ad man from the BBC’s commercial arm who now runs an ad-tech outfit.

Whilst music and then newspapers were buffeted by digital winds of change, ye olde TV has appeared resilient, with about $75bn in US ad spending. Chris Dobson sees that beginning to change – slow, and then fast.

“As yet, there’s no burning platform in television – in the US, TV has stayed about 50% of all media, all the time digital has been growing” says Dobson, now CEO of Exchange Lab, a trading desk acquired by WPP. But don’t rest on your laurels:

  1. “There are the first signs that Netflix, Amazon Prime and Hulu are having an effect – they bring a data play to video that linear doesn’t have.”
  2. “A second thing is going to make a huge difference – the tsunami of millennial change. My 18-year-old son … will never watch linear TV.”

“That push coming through is going to make a massive change. Disruption … will mean TV starts to move faster. Advertisers are getting used to data … they don’t get that from TV … that’s going to have to change.”

Dobson has been bringing about change of a different kind. Founded in 2007 in London, the company started to give ad buyers broader access to inventory across devices and destinations, with its underlying technology Proteus seen from a trading desk screen that plugs in to multiple demand-side platforms.

Since acquisition by WPP in late 2015, Dobson sees two changes.:

  1. “We are building a scaled version of Proteus to empower Group M agencies across the world to do exactly that model.”
  2. “We’re also acting as a specialist agency with Group M and pitching for our own business in our own right.”

This interview was taped at DMEXCO ’16. It is part of a video series of industry leaders. The series is sponsored by Videology. For more Beet.TV coverage of DMEXCO, please visit this page.