SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – It is often disregarded as of lesser importance and sophistication, but the local US TV market is big business.

In this video interview with Beet.TV at Beet Retreat San Juan, one local TV expert says the sector has been a voracious adopter of new advanced TV ad sales techniques.

VAB president Sean Cunningham tells interviewer Jon Watts adoption of digital offerings is helping local car dealers, politicians and others pour money back into local TV.

Local’s upgrade

“In all of American media, probably the people who are most the gymnastic at partnering is, if you will, the local TV business,” says Cunningham.

His VAB (Video Advertising Bureau) is a member organization representing national broadcast and ad-supported cable networks, regional cable networks, MVPDs, major cinema advertisers and suppliers to the video advertising business.

“The thing that they’ve done brilliantly over the last 20 years is to take as much friction as possible out of that buying process.”

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Pandemic acceleration

Perhaps counterintuitively, Cunningham says COVID-19 lockdowns wound up accelerating the reforms in the capabilities being offered by local TV operators.

In the absence of local sports, which had been a bankable way to offer up a discernible demographic, they had to think up new ways to offer that kind of attribute targeting.

“So what happened? Audience-based buying,” Cunningham. “Suddenly you have a three- and four-fold increase in buying to audience-based buying. We can show you, via that set top box data, exactly where that specific consumer is now residing in TV predictably.

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“What we were able to see through an unprecedented situation was that really jump started audience-based buying. … We folded the map and got about five years worth of adaptation done in about a year and a half.”

That would work out at about a three-fold acceleration in the timeline on which Cunningham otherwise expected the trend to flourish.

Local lights up

The rewiring of America’s local TV network to offer audience-based buying now sets it up to benefit from political advertisers’ wish to find voters in the 2022 mid-terms.

“Every time that we’re in an electoral cycle, there’s $3 billion that flows into those local markets because they have all the statistical belief in all of the reasons why those elections are going to be won and lost,” adds Cunningham.

“For a business that can sometimes rise and fall on political and auto … you’ve now become an extremely attractive partner to anybody who’s got really robust first-party data, and has it on some kind of sub-national intelligence level.”

You are watching coverage from Beet Retreat San Juan 2022, presented by AppScience, Infillion, MadHive, SpringServe, Univision & VideoAmp. For more videos, please visit this page.