Building bridges towards programmatic TV

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Mark van de Crommert founded Mediasynced together with Mendel Looije. Mediasynced was the first company to synchronise ad campaigns on TV and radio with online ad campaigns.

A stream of cross-media innovations led to the launch of Mediasynced’s advanced TV and video platform. This platform intelligently combines offline and online data to create and identify TV and video campaigns that really move people, as measured by actual behavioural changes of consumers. Mark van de Crommert explains how this works and discusses the obstacles in the Dutch TV advertising market and has an important message to all players in the Dutch and European TV advertising industry.

Finding a way to recognise real-time audio and video signals from TV or radio streams, match these with a specific ad campaign, and then give this campaign an online boost was the first innovative solution of Mediasynced. Van de Crommert: “We detect, digitalise and map the offline part of a campaign. By making this fingerprint you build up data that can be used as a starting signal to buy online ad space for a campaign through a Demand Side Platform (DSP).

Mediasynced was the first company to synchronise ad campaigns on TV and radio with online ad campaigns.

The DSP will then buy broadly targeted ads in a programmatic auction. This will give a double boost to an ad campaign.”

“This may sound a bit counter-intuitive to some people, because in online advertising most people aim to target specific audiences. We try to convince them that they can also aim for broad targeting in order to create brand awareness and attract new customers by extending their TV ad to an online ad campaign.”

Monitor website activity

After each TV or video commercial, Mediasynced monitors consumer response and changes in behaviour, such as the activity on the website of the brand in question. “We focus on the difference between consumer activity before and after a TV or video commercial. If we see an increase after a TV commercial, we can attribute this rise to the commercial. The effect of synchronisation proves to be substantial.”

Measure consumer activation

This sparked the development of the aptly named ‘Spotalytics’ module of the Mediasynced platform. It measures the direct effects of TV advertising in real-time, by monitoring the online behaviour of consumers after seeing a TV commercial. “Spotalytics measures the activity on a website and the number of searches after a TV commercial has been broadcasted. And we also measure other customer behaviour after TV spots, such as inbound call centre traffic. These measurements are all indications for the level of success of a TV campaign at specific moments and on specific channels. These insights are then used to optimise TV and video campaigns and to create substantial savings in the process.”

TV viewership data and online behaviour

Although Mediasynced monitors the activity on a website based on critical metrics such as visits and conversions, they don’t know exactly who is watching TV or who these website visitors are. In other words, it’s not yet possible to identify which individuals or households have seen a TV commercial. “Matching detailed TV viewership data with online behaviour would provide even more valuable insights into the success of a television campaign”, says Van de Crommert. “Through anonymised, GDPR compliant TV viewership data, we could see the direct link between a person watching a TV ad and subsequently visiting the website. Of course, KPN and Ziggo, but also TV manufacturers, are all able to collect viewership data, including viewing habits and IP addresses. Unfortunately, in the Netherlands this combination of TV viewership and behavioural data is not yet a reality.” He mentions three main topics that need to be addressed for this to happen: technology (standardisation), business models (between TV operators, TV channels and others) and privacy (GDPR compliance).

“As an industry, we need to work toward aggregation of TV viewership data from different sources.”

Collecting TV viewership data

Van de Crommert sees three ways to collect viewership data: through TV operators, TV manufacturers and broadcasters.

“Collecting viewership data through TV operators has proved to be difficult so far. Major operators in the Netherlands, Ziggo and KPN, may decide to keep these data for themselves. Launching Ziggo Sports and KPN Presenteert, makes both Ziggo and KPN channel owners, in addition to content distributors who have control over all hardware. In theory, this combination makes them very powerful and they will be able to sell ads using all the data they have and control. This is one of the reasons why operators are taking stakes in content companies.”

“TV/CE manufacturers collecting and providing global viewership data is also a possibility, but in this case you only have data for each brand and it is limited to connected TVs that are used for tuning instead of using the set-top box provided by the operator.”

Viewership data can also be collected by TV broadcasters (RTL, NPO) through their VOD-platforms (RTL XL, NPO start, Kijk) or Hybrid Broadcast Broadband TV (HbbTV). HbbTV is a European standard that harmonises content delivery through broadcasters, IPTV and broadband on smart TVs and set-top boxes. “HbbTV has been implemented in the Netherlands, but a lot of people do not yet have the Hbb option on their TVs as many installed set-top boxes do not relay this signal. Still, it is a way for broadcasters to collect data in the future, although this data is not aggregated as each different broadcaster will have its own viewership data.”

“In short, there is no single provider that has all the TV viewership data that advertisers need. As an industry, we need to work toward aggregation of TV viewership data from different sources, in a safe GDPR compliant environment.”

Hesitance about sharing data

Even though the importance of monetising data is widely acknowledged Van de Crommert notices some hesitance about sharing data. He attributes this to the fact that players in the Dutch TV market are still in the middle of finding out what their business model and role in the market should be. “Moreover, TV platforms and TV channels have a wide range of topics to agree on in their contract renewals. This makes it difficult to add discussions about data and advertising, which is another complex area to understand and agree on. Fear of negative media attention may also play a role, as was the case for TP Vision (Philips) not so long ago, when they did not inform clients about their use of TV viewership data.” 

TV advertising should be more like online

The situation in TV advertising does not match the situation in the online world where parties such as Google and Facebook know everything about users and successfully monetise this data. According to Van de Crommert TV advertising needs to start using the systems and methods of online. “Mediasynced generates data from TV commercials and sends this data in realtime to a client’s DMP (Data Management Platform, ed.) More and more advertisers combine our real-time TV data with their first party customer data and the data of their online ad campaigns in their DMP. In this way they can get a holistic view of their campaigns and monitor success and the conversion rates of specific audiences after TV ad airings. In this version, the TV-DMP quickly becomes a reality for any TV advertiser.”

Programmatic TV advertising platforms

He emphasises that buying and delivering ads through programmatic TV advertising platforms is the single most important development for TV advertising in the years to come. “It will allow brand advertisers to target specific audiences and measure the effectiveness. Programmatic also makes sure viewers are not bothered by irrelevant ads or an ad frequency that is too high. This creates an environment in which advertising is experienced as pleasant and useful. This is what we should aim for as an industry, because it will lead to TV and video campaigns that will really move people and excite advertisers at the same time.”

“Programmatic TV advertising is the single most important development for TV advertising in the years to come.”

TV advertising is a stronghold under threat

Google and Facebook control a significant percentage of the online advertising market. Van de Crommert sees TV advertising as a last stronghold where Europe, including the Netherlands, can still play a significant role. “The advertising business is too indulged in navelgazing and lacks the necessary cooperation. Local market players are competing with each other instead of looking at the bigger picture.”

Counterbalance to the global power of digital giants

“The players in the European TV market need to join forces, with the aim to standardise technology and formats, and to allow aggregation of their TV audiences. In each EU market , the local players are still in the best position to attract loyal viewers and advertisers by offering local relevance. If they ’gear-up and team-up’, their advertising revenue will keep flowing and with that the funds for buying and producing great content.”

Contact us

Ennèl van Eeden
Global Entertainment & Media Industry Leader
Tel: +31 (0)88 792 45 40
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Casper Scheffer
Partner, PwC Netherlands
Tel: +31 (0)88 792 65 20
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