LAS VEGAS – In the early 1990’s, advertising agencies began to unbundle their media departments into separate operating units. Now television networks are unbundling their audiences to meet advertisers’ increasing desire for better ad targeting.

“Cable programmers have always gone narrow in the sense that their individual networks tended to be much more niche content designed around specific audiences,” notes Jonathan Steuer, Chief Research Officer for Omnicom Media Group.

Over time, the individual networks got rolled up into giant network groups, Steuer explains in an interview with Beet.TV at CES 2017.

“The giant network groups tried to sell everything bundled together. That meant that it wasn’t as easy to target the single audiences anymore,” says Steuer.

Now companies like NBCUniversal, Turner, Viacom and others are combing their ad inventory pools to help identify audiences of interest to brands.

“We’re thrilled whenever it’s easier to buy targeted advertising because it’s more efficient for our clients,” Steuer says. “The challenge is that if each of the network groups does it independently we’ll end up with a hodge-podge of different ways to buy similar audiences.”

Because media agencies want to reach their target TV audiences wherever they happen to be, programmers want to make them easier to buy.

“We’re early days,” says Steuer. “We think everyone will do it and what we need to figure out how to do on the buy is how to plan and buy across all those different audience-based strategies.”

Asked about the state of audience measurement across various forms of TV delivery like over the top, on demand and linear, Steuer concedes that its “really challenging” to combine viewership across different channels. “I think we’re evolving toward better solutions. I know Nielsen is trying with Total Content Ratings.”

Steuer hopes to see greater ability to target on-demand ad inventory, along with “more impression-based measurement based on real delivery.”

This video was produced as part Beet.TV’s coverage of CES 2017 presented by 605. For more videos from the series, please visit this page.