Close up of remote in hand with shallow depth of field during television watching
By Heather Robertson Jan 25 2016

CES2016: Developments in Programmatic TV and Video

Does CES ever disappoint? Not really and this year was no different. With new tech and innovations as far as the eye could see, there are plenty of opportunities on the horizon for marketers and advertisers to utilize. Though some of those opportunities are still in their infancy, the promise surrounding them is high and many are eagerly waiting to see what’s to come. Here are the five big points I took home from CES 2016 and my thoughts on where digital fits into the fold.

VR (virtual reality)

Whether it’s devices like Oculus Rift or Google Cardboard, content creators like Discovery or distribution networks like Littlstar, you’ve likely heard or read about the influx of innovations in the VR space. No surprise, there continued to be lots of buzz about the topic at CES during sessions through experience-based demos, and a heavy presence among various booths on the floor. Though it’s yet to be seen what type of advertising opportunities will exist at scale within this space, Discovery eluded to content integration ideas. Google noted that early campaigns used branded cardboard executions and virtual test drives with auto clients. Measurement is still a bit tricky, like with most new testing opportunities, but the advent of VR should be encouraging enough for brands, advertisers, creative shops, etc. to start thinking about how to evolve the way they approach content creation.

Advanced TV

Beyond advancements in TV manufacturer technology like 4K OLED, there was a heavy focus on Video at CES, with several notable elements that have an inherent influence on media buying and advertising opportunities. Announcements from AudienceXpress about the release of their self-serve programmatic TV platform and Acxiom’s news about an addressable TV platform firmly establish the continued push toward automation and audience-based targeting needing to move beyond just digital channels like desktop and mobile, and into more traditional channels like TV.

Analytics

Cross-platform TV & digital video measurement continues to be a challenge in our industry. Should core success metrics look more like today’s digital KPIs or TVs old standby of GRPs? Nielsen’s DAR (digital ad ratings product) was one of the first available solutions for buyers to report verified, on-target GRPs across desktop and mobile campaigns, allowing digital metrics to look more like TV. On the flip side, Samba TV has been working toward making TV metrics look more like digital. At their booth space, Centro’s Digital Innovations team was given a preview of their analytics dashboard, expected to be released in Q2 2016, which pulls in data from their 3MM household research panel to report against viewability rates, completion rates and skip rates, in addition to standard TV metrics like GRPs. In addition to their existing broadcast conversion rate offering, this could be a game changer for media buyers and advertisers looking to move beyond GRPs with their TV buys.

Ad Blockers

Over the past few months, it seems the trades have been all over the topic of ad blockers being a concern for online advertisers, but dismiss the fact that this is not a challenge exclusive to digital media. I was a TV buyer in 2012 and still recall the outcry when Dish announced their plans for the Hopper “AutoHop” update, a DVR feature that allowed users to skip past commercials with the push of a button, instead of the normal requirement of fast-forwarding to skip ads. Though announced last September, TiVo featured their new product, Bolt, at this year’s CES, which has features eerily similar to that of the Hopper AutoHop in terms of the ability to skip commercials. What does that mean? It’s the ultimate TV ad blocker. If these DVR features take off and start to become the norm with other set-top boxes, I imagine a couple of other partner activations seen at CES may be solutions for avoiding those ad blockers. One such partner is Watchwith, offering a native in-program ad format with future promises of being accessible through private marketplaces. This new ad format gives TV programmers additional ways to monetize their content and media buyers an option to avoid TV commercial skippers and capitalize on another high-reach, branding opportunity on TV.

Screens Everywhere

The floors of CES were filled with screens, but not just clearer and thinner TV screens for the living room. We saw screens on refrigerators, in cars, on watches, as kitchen counter backsplashes, on telepresence robots, even doorbells that connected the ringer to a screen. Some of these screens have existed for a few years and just haven’t been adopted at scale yet, while others are new prototypes. While it’s still early for many of these screens to be widely adopted, it is clear video content is going to continue to rise and hit us everywhere we go.

As expected, there is plenty to be excited for. With more devices comes more opportunities for new and innovative ad units and customer experiences. Being ahead of the game will be essential to success once these new technologies are adopted at scale.