National Addressable TV has Arrived. But is it Ready for Primetime?

By Thought Leaders Archives
Cover image for  article: National Addressable TV has Arrived. But is it Ready for Primetime?

DirecTV, Dish Network, A+E Networks, ViacomCBS, and FOX have joined AdCuratio's National Custom Messaging Platform (NCM) to launch a working system that enables networks to offer up Addressable TV inventory on both national and local inventory.

The holy grail of Advanced Television is the tantalizing idea that every spot delivered to the household TV set (and ideally down to the individual) can be personalized and customized to optimize the impact of the financial investment by the marketer. Commercials would become more relevant based on data. Waste would be eliminated. Don't have a dog in the house? No dog food commercial. Keep Kosher or Halal? No need to run that Jimmy Dean sausage ad to your home. Just leased or bought a car? Automakers do not need to speak with you for a while. You only drink La Croix? Let's heavy up Bubbly ads to that home with specific messages around why you should give the new Kiwi Lime flavor a chance. The ideas and use-cases for Addressable TV are the dreams of audience strategists whether agency or marketer.

Yet, to date, lack of scale, the limitation of inventory to local ad breaks with their lower availability and higher CPMs due to the premium of addressable tech, have proven to dampen the growth trajectory. Until recently, many marketers, with exceptions, considered addressable as a 'nice to have', but not a core budget line item on their media plan. That may soon change.

Addressable tech start-up AdCuratio has done the work of tying together the myriad of technology and systems integrations necessary to enable national addressable TV advertising. In a recent announcement, addressable pioneer technology Invidi, whose core technology has been powering local addressable through MVPDs for nearly a decade,  and a group of distributors and networks including AT&T's DirecTV, Dish Network, A+E Networks, ViacomCBS, and FOX have joined AdCuratio's National Custom Messaging Platform (NCM) to launch a working system that enables networks to offer up Addressable TV inventory on both national and local inventory.

Michael Kubin, EVP at Invidi Technologies,  explains that there are three types of addressability theoretically available:

"The first type of national addressable inventory is called 'Single Advertiser Spot Optimization' (SASO): With this method, as is currently done in the television marketplace, only one addressable advertiser buys the ad unit. That advertiser can run multiple versions of creative based on the demographic/geographic/psychographic profile of the household. Currently SASO is the only method available, in part because it doesn't require a complete paradigm shift on the Network side of inventory allocation.

Multiple Advertiser Spot Optimization (MASO): Where a single ad unit is split between multiple advertisers based on their audience targets (for example, one unit on A&E's "Biography" could be split into Auto Buyer Intenders, Dog Owners, Videogamers). In theory, this could be a win-win for both the seller and the buyer. The seller can charge a higher base CPM while the buyer could end up paying a more efficient net effective CPM with the elimination of waste. However, that also puts the onus of selling out every impression or risking unsold impressions; along with the complexity, labor, and cost of the ad ops involved.

Finally, the last form of national addressable is aggregation which is "basically throwing everything together and mashing it all up", says Kubin.

AdCuratio Chief Client Officer, Chris Geraci, believes their platform will take some of the complexity out for the networks. "With our platform, the networks will be able to upgrade existing national commercial time to be addressable by utilizing our user-friendly interface. An ad operation lead at the network takes the advertiser's schedule running against a network and uploads it into our system. They pick and choose which inventory that they (the network) want to be addressable. We build in segmentation and build audiences. We are taking a single advertiser and optimizing the version of that commercial."

Given the likelihood that marketers will want to extend the reach of their national addressable TV buys with additional inventory from the MVPD's local addressable, a logical request by advertisers would be a net reach and frequency segment report. While that report is not available at the moment, the inclusion of Invidi and several of the MVPDs in AdCuratio's NCM makes such a report feasible and Geraci confirmed that is under assessment.

A+E Networks, who is at the forefront of innovation in this area is one of the key network participants. Santosh Mathai, A+E Network's VP Precision + Performance platform partnerships sees addressability as an opportunity to dramatically increase value for their clients. "AdCuratio's NCM creates for our partners the opportunity not only to have a new, ongoing or an evolving conversation throughout that journey but also encourages the recognition of the value of our full audience footprint. Premium content, smart technology, targeted and relevant messaging continue as an integral part of A+E Networks' ongoing commitment to deliver actionable solutions to the national marketplace."

So how are the evangelists who have been speaking for years on panels about the need for national addressable inventory reacting to what seems to be a milestone achieved? Matthew Kramer, managing director, advanced advertising at Omnicom Media Group acknowledges the accomplishment, but warns against premature expectations given the timing. "We applaud the achievement made in the industry finally having access to addressable TV on national inventory. It is something that we and our clients have been anticipating for a while. However, the timing with this and anything "new" during the core of the pandemic, does mean that the runway of adoption will likely be longer than it would have been in a pre-COVID environment."

The technology for national addressable TV has arrived. It is no longer a "can they?". But the question remains for marketers, will they embrace this enhancement to legacy linear/VOD or are all eyes now focused on OTT and other IP delivered video options?

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