Ampersand explains why we can’t ignore linear in the march to addressable TV
“On television and videois a column exploring the opportunities and challenges of advanced television and video.
Convergent television is not just about marrying linear television and streaming television.
Linear has its own fragmentation challenges to solve, from local and national addressing to broadcast and cable. Ampersand – a TV sales consortium jointly owned by Comcast, Charter and Cox – is on a mission to plug the holes by bringing together as much TV inventory as possible.
Ampersand sells national local and multi-screen spots, or campaigns running in select local markets nationwide, as well as connected TV inventory. It does not sell on national networks or stream, although data from those channels guides activation and metering decision within the platform, CEO Nicolle Pangis said.
With a national TV footprint of 80 million U.S. households and access to 70% of the national addressable market, Ampersand sees itself as “seated on the largest linear inventory offering in the ecosystem,” Pangis said. “And it’s not banner ads and cat videos; we’re talking about premium TV inventory.
Pangis, who joined Ampersand (formerly NCC Media) in 2018 after stints at GroupM and Xaxis, comes from a digital programmatic background, which she says guides Ampersand’s technology approach.
This means providing a user interface that resembles the demand-side interfaces that advertisers are used to in digital. “But it’s connected to premium TV inventory that can be activated and streamlined directly by brands and agencies with the insights they glean from our platform,” she said.
Pangis spoke with AdExchanger.
AdExchanger: What is the thread that connects linear, addressable and streaming TV?
NICOLLE PANGIS: Audience buying. Moving from GRPs to audience buying is a huge industry-wide shift.
Geo-targeting surprised me when I switched from digital to TV. On digital, geography is just a click of a button away. I could go from a nationally targeted campaign to a fairly hyperlocal campaign with just a few clicks in an interface – but it’s not that easy for TV.
In television, there’s local and national, and there’s a very big difference between cable and broadcast on top of that. But the shift to audience-based media buying blurs those lines.
Brands want to target the audience they want across all of these elements as cohesively as possible.
What is Ampersand’s approach to unifying television?
Better technology and better integration into agency side tools. We, and others, are beginning to provide buyers with holistic views across all of their media investments.
We want to make activation as seamless as possible on the purchase side. Within our platform, we have streamed information that we can measure locally, nationally, and continuously across 42 million data households to determine frequency and incremental reach.
We are also working with all the vendors we represent in the market to try to simplify the process behind the scenes. We are integrated with more partners from a measurement and attribution perspective, as well as an agency perspective, than four years ago.
What is the biggest problem for the TV industry on the road to convergence?
Historically, there have been linear TV buyers and digital buyers. But within addressable TV, there is also a divide between local and national buyers.
When it comes to converged TV, buyers need to think about the overall TV budget as a brand – not in silos of linear and digital, not in silos of local and national. On the sales side, the technologies behind on-shelf activation are obviously very different from those used for digital delivery.
Successful TV ad campaigns now have to be multi-screen purchases, i.e. linear and streaming. As an industry, we are in this evolution, but it takes work to get there.
Why do agencies draw a line between their national and local purchases?
First, that’s how the agencies were organized. And a technology platform to buy both national and local in one place did not exist. The two worked in silos.
But execution teams are starting to come together to take a more holistic look at TV investment budgets and where those ad budgets should be executed across channels.
That’s why we designed our platform as a single interface for buyers to choose national and local campaign executions, large or small, with one button and with the same data in the same way to get the same report in both cases, including frequency capping and incremental range. .
This means that buyers can overlay national and broadcast campaigns that have nothing to do with what we do at Ampersand, and we can ingest that data and show buyers where they have over- or under-indexed the broadcast of the audience in their campaigns.
Is the industry neglecting the importance of national and local addressable linears and focusing too much on the hype around streaming and alternative currencies?
Yes – I couldn’t agree more with that.
As an industry, we tend to shine a magnifying glass on one or two things without opening the lens aperture as much as we should. We try to keep our opening open in Ampersand. The customers making the most progress with us are those who understand that streaming and measurement are just two parts of the larger conversation around converged TV.
Distinguishing between linear addressable and streaming does our industry a disservice, because the most responsible media buys capture as much information as possible about audiences, wherever they are.
There’s been some discussion about vendor-defined audiences, but from what we’re seeing, it’s more brand- and agency-defined audiences at this point.
Why is that?
It depends on the market, but that’s what we see in the national address space.
Brands and agencies don’t research every media provider they work with to define audiences as they would like for their own delivery purposes from a supply perspective. What advertisers are looking for is to create an audience definition and then take that definition to their strategic partners for them to implement.
This interview has been edited and condensed.