With the COVID-19 pandemic impacting society and business at least into mid-2021 according to the CDC, national brands are refocusing their advertising and distribution strategies in response to shifting regional needs and realities. Media planners are redirecting buyers away from a national one-size-fits-all model to a more nuanced regional and 1:1 impression-based focus. Fortunately, for both brands and their agencies, the television industry is more prepared than ever to meet their needs through enhanced targeting and programmatic capabilities. DISH Media, benefitting from years of investment and relationship-building in the Advanced TV space and a pioneer in delivering household targeted TV ads, has become a primary partner to marketers and agencies as they shift budgets originally planned for national media buys to regionally and 1:1 audience targeted TV advertising.
Given the volatility of opening procedures on a market-by-market basis resulting from the COVID-19 crisis, coupled with the financial toll that it has taken on consumers, brands must squeeze every ounce of ROI out of their media buys. "It's all about wanting to maximize ROI and not waste any impressions on the wrong audience, especially when everyone has an intense need to be efficient right now," says Dave Antonelli (pictured at top), director of ad strategy and revenue at SLING TV. According to Antonelli, strategic buying and data-backed solutions are the number one way to go.
So what are these pandemic-era optimizing strategies? Antonelli says they are the tools that have been around all along: programmatic and addressable. These data-driven and real-time solutions give brands the flexibility and the precision they need to reach the audiences they need with minimal waste.
"That is where addressable and OTT as a whole come in," Antonelli continues. "You are able to laser focus your buy within the right target audience, and layer in geographical region and different attributes you are looking for in consumers with first- and third-party data." The wealth of information that DISH Media accesses from first-party subscriber data across DISH and SLING TV fuels all of their addressable campaigns, and with the recent acquisition of Boost Mobile there is more opportunity for growth in the future.
Programmatic buying, specifically, has seen an increase in spend in recent weeks and has been touted for its lower cost and the ability to buy in real-time. This OTT buying strategy allows for clients to plan in the short-term and customize their buying strategy, allowing them to be nimble and efficient as regional openings continue to fluctuate.
"Programmatic is a vital tool," notes Antonelli. "The big request right now from many of our partners is flexibility, along with having great data to target."
According to Antonelli, even companies that mostly focused on linear have started to consider programmatic more. He says the biggest draws are the lack of barriers to entry, how easy it is to transact, and the level of targeting and transparency OTT brands like SLING TV can provide.
Fortunately for agency buyers, DISH Media has one of the leading programmatic buying platforms and was already set to ease their transition to addressable and OTT television opportunities.
"We knew that 2020 would be the year that more buyers would want to buy programmatically and would be more responsive to programmatic initiatives. With the advent of the pandemic, that has turned out to be an understatement," Antonelli reports. "Our development team has done an awesome job connecting universally to every DSP [demand-side platform]. Our programmatic tools offer media buyers the flexibility to make real-time decisions, evaluate performance, and optimize accordingly."
As demand for more targeted and precise advertising methods continue to grow, publishers are adapting to the wave and changing how they see and define their businesses. "Prior to the pandemic, we were leaning into OTT changes in the marketplace," says Antonelli. "We made it a priority to merge our DISH satellite business with the SLING TV OTT business. We believe the future of TV is going to be impression based. It's not about whether the content is delivered to the TV via an IP connection or a satellite."
DISH Media has been moving toward a holistic approach the last few months, strengthening its cross-platform offerings with new addressable products like Reach Booster, opening up their set-top-box VOD inventory for programmatic buying, and building partnerships to expand national minute enablement.
Opening up buying strategies to addressable and programmatic advertising assures media planners and buyers that their reallocation of budgets is scalable, both nationally and on a more targeted-basis. Importantly, the budget shifts they're making in response to COVID-19 will be sustainable as market conditions adjust to new norms.
Antonelli sums it up: "We have great deterministic data to help buyers reach their target. We work with third-party measurement companies, so we aren't grading our own homework. We embrace flexibility, especially in this moment, and we are responding to our clients' needs to transact programmatically."
As advertiser, agency and TV industry needs and priorities have coalesced in response to the pandemic, DISH Media has made leadership, relevant audience targeting, full transparency, brand safety and trust their mission-critical priorities. While there are still quite a few uncertainties on how things will play out, publishers are becoming more focused on delivering successful advertising to its clients, providing marketers with the flexibility and data targeting capabilities of digital complementing the brand impact of television.
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The opinions expressed here are the author's views and do not necessarily represent the views of MediaVillage.com/MyersBizNet.
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