Client Fulfillment and Traffic Operations: A Peek Behind the Curtain

By NY Interconnect InSites Archives
Cover image for  article: Client Fulfillment and Traffic Operations:  A Peek Behind the Curtain

We hear it all the time in media sales: "The deal is not complete until the spot runs and the invoice is sent!"  But for all the talk about selling inventory and meeting those all-important sales targets, have you ever wondered how a commercial actually makes its way onto your television set -- or any screen for that matter?

It's a question certainly worth diving into because there's a lot more to TV ad placements than a well-crafted media plan.  Like a high-stakes relay race, getting a commercial to the airwaves requires focus, endurance and -- most of all -- teammates who can keep the momentum going through every critical, exciting and (at times) nerve-wracking step.

It Starts with a Best-In-Class Foundation ...

Having been in this business for over 15 years, I can say with much enthusiasm that this truly is one of the most exciting eras in TV advertising thanks to the explosion of opportunities in both the number of available platforms and the innovative ways we can reach audiences.  The days of relying solely on one-size-fits-all linear demo buys are long gone.  Today, we can target the precise audience segments advertisers are looking for through relevant ads ("relevant" being the key word here).

That's the beauty of being part of a joint venture with three of the largest cable providers -- Altice USA, Charter and Comcast; we help deliver more hyper-targeted messaging that, in turn, creates a more customized experience.  Here at New York Interconnect, for example, our clients can run addressable TV campaigns, which air one (or multiple) ads simultaneously in the tri-state area -- ads that have been tailored to an individual audience or household, based on specific geographic, demographic and psychographic attributes.  It's the power of our cable infrastructure that makes advanced ad tech like addressable possible.

Continues with a Well-Synchronized Team ...

Inside this complex infrastructure are some ultra-smart software applications and automation tools along with the highly dedicated, detail-oriented teams who run them.  The traffic department is where content meets the buy sheet; in many respects, it is the heartbeat of our business, keeping the other departments moving to a constant rhythm.  Here, everything from requests, contracts and instructions are entered, processed and then passed along to other departments for additional tasks.

The cable networks run hundreds of millions of ads each year.  Hence, it takes incredible attention to detail to guarantee that an ad shows up where it's supposed to.  Fortunately, the technology is there to lend a helping a hand.  For example, to ensure an ad for a luxury sports car doesn't run on a children's network, the traffic department relies on robust algorithms to maintain millions of lines of code to build the daily logs (a compilation of all our channels and commercial content, as well as what is scheduled for the next day) for hundreds of zones -- and hundreds of networks -- every day.

... And Ends with a (Virtually) Perfect "Landing"

The commercial content is then assigned a reservation number and is sent to our content management teams (i.e. our MPVD partners) across the tri-state area, en route to its final destination: your screen.  These teams are besieged with billions of reservation numbers from spots coming in from all over the world; it's their job to make sure each spot is allocated to the right show at the right time.

As if that wasn't challenging enough, the road to airing can sometimes be bumpy.  But if there is a major news event or a delay in programming, there is a protocol in place to ensure our commercial ads are ready to resume when the programming returns.  Likewise, when there's a break in news or delays in programming, the applications (and teams!) are right there to handle the preemptions, looking for opportunities to remedy the situation.  We may try to make good on another reservation or offer a complimentary upgrade during another program.

As with any reservation system -- similar to those used by airlines or hotels -- there is always a room or seat to fill.  The TV stations are no different; there is always a commercial log to fill.  Whether those spots are sold at a premium, at a standard rate or offered at a discount, it doesn't matter.  Bottom line: The day can't be repeated, so the logs must be created and filled with clients who want to be on the air that day.  That goes for every program airing that day; after all, there are only so many Real Housewives commercial placements to sell.

It truly is remarkable to know that behind the screen lies a figurative, massive-sized air traffic control center that's directing millions of ads round-the-clock with a level of precision and reliability that is unrivaled in any industry.  So, the next time you're inclined to fast-forward or change the channel to skip an ad, why not sit back, watch and marvel at the prospect that this ad was chosen for just you -- and the lengths it went to reach you.

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