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Linear Addressable Advertising Is Here Now: Are You Ready?

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Long a pipe dream, scalable linear addressable advertising is now available across all platforms. In fact, TV channels are deploying it now, and these early adopters will likely command extra-high premiums given the low availability.

But to take advantage of this opportunity, broadcasters need to address some technical and business challenges. This is the right time for the ad sales, ad operations, and engineers within media companies to work together on their priorities and create new growth opportunities:

  • For ad sales: Activating addressable inventory without risking existing contracts or revenue streams
  • For ad operations: Automating addressable advertising workflows and delivering ad quality
  • For engineers: Enabling linear addressable TV maintaining existing operations workflows and distribution methods 

Ad Sales: Making Space for the New While Protecting the Old

Linear addressable advertising opens the door to new business models. For example, the multiple advertiser spot optimization (MASO) model enables ad sales teams to sell the same advertiser spot to multiple brands, each time targeting different audience segments. If linear ad sales teams go a step further and work closely with digital ad sales, they can sell any unsold spots programmatically to further maximize revenue.

At the same time, ad sales teams need to hit the right balance and ensure existing customer contracts and relationships are protected. Competitive separation can make or break an advertising deal. Ad sales executives want to ensure any changes in advertising operations workflows, especially programmatic systems, don’t risk existing revenue streams. This becomes much more complex as linear addressable TV encompasses several different platforms and systems that need to work together seamlessly to ensure all components are in sync. 

Ad Operations: Championing Linear Addressable Advertising Delivery

Ad operations teams need everything to work like a well-oiled machine. They’re responsible for delivering ads without disrupting the viewing experience. Issues in the addressable advertising workflow can lead to frame-inaccurate switching or failure to stage the right creative in time. Both problems degrade the viewing experience. For example, imagine failing to serve the right addressable creative at the right time. Beyond a poor viewing experience, you also lose revenue as the advertising spot is wasted.

To prevent system failure and ensure quality standards are met, ad operations teams should look for automation and visibility over the operations workflow. Automating processes across ad decisioning and downstream systems means there’s less room for error. Monitoring capabilities and identifying any potential disruptions before they occur allows time for corrective action. Demanding this level of transparency from ad signaling vendors will allow ad operations teams to retain control over the workflow and ensure everything goes as planned.

Engineers: The Engine Behind Linear Addressable Advertising

Engineering teams are the technical masterminds behind advertising. However, the challenges of interoperability across different platforms, networks, and systems working with different standards and requirements may necessitate a new way of working. This fragmentation hinders the execution of single addressable advertising campaigns while increasing costs and adding complexity. Finding a way to automate platform requirements and workflows will help you support the huge value that scalable linear addressable will bring to your organization. You don’t want to fall behind competitors on this one.

Innovation is coming that will address this challenge and make linear addressable TV at scale a reality.

Hitting the Target in Linear Addressable Advertising

Linear addressable advertising answers a key question in advertising: Will my ad get seen by the right eyeballs? 

To deliver addressable campaigns at scale, broadcasters need the right automated signaling solution that solves two fundamental challenges:

  • The addressable creative that will replace the default content is loaded into the ad replacement system (be that a smart TV or a set-top box).
  • The seamless replacement of the default content with the addressable creative is prompted by frame-accurate signaling. This signaling ensures addressable advertising works properly and the viewer sees the right ad at the right time. 

Linear addressable TV at scale also requires a universal signaling solution. This solution should enable single addressable campaigns eliminating the challenges of varying standards and work with any:

  • Network
  • Playout automation and traffic system
  • Ad decision system
  • Distribution platform
  • Ad replacement system
  • Business model

The right solution enables interoperability at scale by acting as a communications proxy between the various disparate systems in today’s complex advertising ecosystem. This means the solution integrates with ad decision providers; ad replacement systems; and TV channel playout automation, traffic, and scheduling systems; and that it automates processes throughout. A key process to automate is ensuring each ad replacement system has the right addressable creatives staged far enough in advance so seamless replacement can occur. 

What’s Next in Linear Addressable Advertising

But automation needs to move beyond that. Linear addressable advertising will be even more valuable when advertisers are able to use contextual information (like plot points or news segment topics) to serve up the right ads at the exact right time. By creating these critical data bridges between all parts of the ecosystem, such as the broadcast origination and traffic systems, FreeWheel, The Trade Desk, video advertising platforms, and trade desks, the solution ensures seamless ad replacement and competitive separation. 

In a programmatic environment, addressable advertising at scale can increase revenue further. Currently, advance notice means the signal the commercial break is coming is usually transmitted about four seconds prior to when the ad break starts (that’s the pre-roll time for the old local avail cue tones that are still in use). In programmatic advertising, this means the various players have four seconds to bid for the advertising spot. 

Building the right data bridges between the playout and addressable systems brings more revenue opportunities. Those bridges can enable advance notices for ad spots to be delivered sooner. For example, providing 30, 120, or 300 seconds enables a larger number of players — including those with slower bidding systems — to bid. This longer timeframe means more revenue. 

Linear Addressable Advertising Is Here

Linear addressable TV at scale signals a paradigm shift in advertising. This is the first time broadcasters and advertisers can work together to deliver campaigns that combine the scale of traditional TV with the superior targeting of digital. The stakes are huge with US broadcasters who activate the same network-owned ad inventory across multiple platforms and can unlock up to an additional 14 minutes of addressable ad inventory per hour. 

While business and technical challenges have blocked linear take-off, innovation has now removed the roadblocks. This is the perfect time for ad sales, ad operations, and engineers to deploy the right technologies to enable this revenue game-changer.

[Editor's Note: This article was contributed by LTN Global. Streaming Media accepts vendor bylines based solely on their value to our readers.]

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