How does “advanced” television in all of its forms—OTT, VOD, online—come to resemble good old-fashioned network TV? When its ad inventory and viewers are concentrated among a few big players.
To be sure, the advantages of advanced TV include the ability to use data for better audience targeting and results measurement, Babs Rangaiah, Partner for Global Marketing Solutions at marketing services provider IBM iX, says in an interview with Beet.TV on the eve of the Masters of Marketing Conference of the Association of National Advertisers.
Rangaiah, who spent 14 years on the advertiser side at Unilever, is no stranger to the world of traditional network TV. “While there were great benefits, we didn’t really know which ads were working and how much of it was working,” he says. “You spent a billion dollars but you didn’t’ know how much of that actually impacted your sales.”
With advanced TV, “I think over time we’ll have a much better sense of that,” says Rangaiah.
Alongside technological progress have come greater consumer power of choice and a flip of the business model that once relegated viewers to commercial exposure that interrupted programming. These days, consumers can go over the top or around with ease.
“As TV gets more and more advanced, it will be that much harder to break through that environment when consumers have the option of skipping almost any ad possible,” says Rangaiah.
While the ad industry has “come a long way on the viewability issue” of things like online video, the concentration of power harkens to earlier TV days.
“The digital ecosystem is becoming almost the way the networks were many years ago where you only had a few players that controlled kind of all the inventory and all the viewership,” says Rangaiah. “I think with Google and Facebook especially you’re going to have enormous opportunity, but we’d like to broaden that to more than just those two players obviously.”
Then he shares a personal anecdote that attests to the power of digital targeting. At Christmas, Rangaiah went shopping online for a refrigerator but at a certain point stopped the process and went to a store instead. A few hours later, he went on Facebook and the exact refrigerator he wanted was staring him in the face.
“It was about the data and laser targeting that was contextually relevant to me, for exactly what I was looking for, at the exact time I was looking, and I bought it,” he says.