Ad Tech Vendors Are Exploiting Addressable TV’s Inconsistent Terminology

Addressable TV advertising specialist Cadent announced earlier this week that John Tigg, previously of Videology and Yahoo! UK and Ireland, has been hired as VP and managing director of EMEA. VAN caught up with Tigg, as well as Cadent’s SVP of global sales Keith Kryszcun, to hear more about Cadent’s moves in Europe, as well as the state of the addressable TV advertising market more broadly.  

Cadent’s core business has traditionally involved working with pay TV operators – is this still the case?

Keith: We believe we have a world class leading solution for pay TV operators to deploy addressable solutions and generate new revenue on that. And I think we’re proving that out with Liberty Global in the UK, we’re also working in Ireland today and we have active plans to roll out into other Liberty global markets.

But we are also moving beyond pay TV providers. In the US we do addressable TV for index linear television as well for targeting specific household’s, and we’re going to start bringing those solutions to the buy side, in markets that are ripe for addressability.

We also recently acquired a company called 4INFO, which has an audience graph as well as a DSP. We’re going to incorporate those into our addressable solutions and bring those to Europe as well.

So we’re broadening the set of services that we can bring to market and continuing working with pay TV providers, but broadening those to the buy side as well as to networks and broadcasters.

How does 4INFO fit into Cadent’s business?

Keith: We see a lot of synergies around what they’re doing with their device graph, as well as their DSP tool. When I look at the big picture, I see there’s a lot of walled gardens that are arising at the moment. I think doing audience unification across those walled gardens is going to be a big opportunity and challenge moving forward.

But also if you’re a big mobile company or a platform operator and you’re starting to acquire more content, you need to manage audiences between devices, between households and who’s watching what, for video services but also other services. So I could also see that as an opportunity for us.

How do you differentiate from the rest of the market?

Keith: I think for us in terms of our platform provider solutions, I would say one big point of differentiation is that we’ve deployed in four countries, and about 20-25 million households, on 75 million devices. When we talk to a lot of operators, I think they’re worried about the complexity of these solutions. But we have had these systems running in production in four countries for billions of impressions. So we have really operationalised it, we have a very stable solution and it just works.

And I think that is a big differentiator for us because a lot of people will say they’re doing addressable, but very few are actually doing addressable on broadcast linear spots.

Another thing I think we’ve done that nobody else has really done well is in our work with Virgin Media and Sky, where we’ve integrated into AdSmart. It’s a very tight integration into AdSmart, with multiple API’s for reporting, for audience discovery, for campaign information.

When you look at platform operators, they all have to support multiple broadcasters and other content providers all the time. The ability to let the broadcaster bring certain tool sets that they’ve developed and integrate into an addressable ecosystem is important.

I would say lastly, we have 400 agencies and advertising in the US that we work with. So we have a ton of experience on how to optimise yield and campaign delivery across linear and addressable. And bringing those solutions to the EU market I think is something that we’re excited about.

John: When we look at the European TV market, the majority of television is still being watched in a linear fashion. So you need to take a broad view of how to enable addressable TV. And that has to include linear, it has to include, VOD has to include other IP enabled sources of distribution. Cadent takes a very unified view of all of those different distribution points, and tries to simplify the process of getting access to not just the inventory, but also the audience, and to do that in an automated way. And I think that really made it stand out for me.

Do you think the market appreciates the nuances and differences between different types of addressable TV advertising, for example addressable TV on a traditional linear broadcast, compared to targeted advertising on a CTV app?

John:  As addressable TV becomes the shiny new thing in the European market, it feels like almost everybody is jumping on board and saying that they have a role to play in this ecosystem. And the reality is that that’s just not true.

So first of all, you’ve got the issue around terminology. What does advanced TV mean? What does addressable TV mean? What does connected TV mean? We’re seeing so many companies jump in and say that they’ve got this giant role to play, and it suits them to conflate the idea of delivering a campaign onto a TV screen with being a key player in addressable TV.

Sometimes it’s because they are the public companies that need to show they’re moving into new areas, or venture capital backed businesses which need to show that they’re still innovating.

But the truth is there are only a handful of companies that are playing a key role in the emergence of addressable TV anywhere in the world, least of all here in Europe. So creating standards around the terminology, but also standards around deployment and execution, is going to be important as the industry matures.

We hear a lot about CTV specifically at the moment, is addressable linear TV getting lost in the background?

John: I think the CTV thing from a European perspective is a misnomer. Whenever I hear somebody say they’re all about CTV or CTV is the focus of their company, I wonder what their European numbers look like!

The reality is the content is owned by the broadcasters and it’s distributed by the platform operators. So if you only have access to inventory on OTT apps, then you’re going to have a very small business.

As I was saying earlier, if you’re going to be serious about addressable TV, you need to be enabling linear, you need to be enabling broadcaster VOD, you need to be enabling OTT and network DVR, replay, restart the whole thing.

What’s the current state of measurement for addressable TV, is it still a barrier to growth?

John: Measurement is the big question that always comes up, and yes, it’s a fairly large obstacle to scale. But it hasn’t stopped Sky AdSmart from becoming a hundred million pound business. I think it’s very easy to use measurement and some of the obstacles around measurement as an excuse.

If you think about addressable TV as somehow taking from TV share, then clearly there’s going to be a challenge because you’ve got an entirely panel based system in almost every European market matching up against addressable TV, which uses census level data from platform operators, and that allows for much more granular targeting. But I think that these two strategies can coexist while that measurement question gets answered because as you know it’s not straightforward.

In the UK, BARB is not just about measuring audiences, it’s also a trading currency. When you think about how television is bought and sold, it’s based on ratings. That system is not just going to break down because you’re now able to target dog owners on addressable TV.

Having said that, I think you can make a strong argument that addressable TV brings digital level targeting to television, and can therefore challenge better for digital budgets, while traditional TV can remain a very powerful reach vehicle, which has always been its biggest selling point.

Measurement is a nuanced problem because every different market has a slightly different problem. But I think you’ve got to think your way around it rather than allowing it to stop the markets from growing.

And what do you make of Project Dovetail, and other moves from measurement bodies to modernise?

John: The first thing I’d say is that we’re not going to find a solution overnight. Having said that, Project Dovetail has been something that has been mooted by BARB for  as long as I can remember. But it hasn’t yet gone any way to solving this issue. So my feeling here is that it needs to be a collaboration between buyers and sellers because at the moment, the way that television is bought and sold defines how it’s measured and vice versa.

So I think that all constituents in the ecosystem have to come together to change something like that, and it’s going to take a long time.

Does the growth of addressability in TV advertising change the role of the TV sales house?

John: If you were to look at digital publishing and how it’s gone for that industry then, then you would probably say that it’s going to reduce the role of TV sales houses quite dramatically. But the truth is the traditional digital advertising workflow in terms of programmatic don’t necessarily make sense in addressable advertising.

That’s for a number of reasons. One of those being that television is a constrained sort of product – it’s not as plentiful as digital advertising, and therefore it requires a different sort of trading means, typically fixed price and fixed volume, much of which is sold on an upfront basis. So I don’t think you’re going to suddenly see an RTB system come up which suddenly makes the whole television ecosystem this completely fluid environment.

And I think in some ways it could strengthen television sales houses, because they can use things like the technology for addressable TV to add entirely new parts for their business. Broadly speaking, the role of the sales house is definitely going to evolve, but I don’t think that necessarily means they’re going to play a lesser role.

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