Ten, SBS and MCN eye Prada programmatic

By Brendan Coyne | 8 November 2013

Private exchanges are like a Prada store where only discerning customers are invited and there is no question of anything but a fixed price.

Meanwhile private marketplaces are like boutique stores that stock a range of luxury brands. The former has grown “faster and faster” over the last six months in Australia, according to TVN's Peter Ostick and “we're seeing increased appetite” for the latter.

Ostick was speaking at TVN's future of video upfront in Sydney this week. He reckoned 2014 would see media agencies continuing to “staff up to take back buying”, audience guarantees “becoming part of the conversation” and broadcasters increasingly trying to monetise the second screen. “It will be interesting to see how they do that.”

MCN's Mark Frain said the firm was already on it. In 2014, he said, for the first time “MCN will be able to ring fence its inventory and put it into that designer store.” By doing that, he said programmatic was “not about the race to the bottom, but the race to efficiency... and if we can make trading more efficient that is a massive benefit to everyone.”

That's the area that most attracted Ten, according to digital sales head Peter Manten. He said Ten would “embrace programmatic [from a TV and online] point of view as it comes to market.

“We will take ring-fenced content and deliver it [across all platforms]. Guaranteed, fixed CPM private space is the area in which we will play.”

Via TenPlay, the network would “look to overlay that with our own and third party data to get a single view,” he said, and the company had to work on a smarter back-end “but that is the nature of the beast.”

One of the main benefits of programmatic to broadcasters, said Manten, was the ability to manage audience spikes on a day to day basis that are not always easy to forecast.

Hayley Cameron, national digital sales manager at SBS, said that getting programmatic to the front of mind at a government-owned channel was “not that easy”. Neither was programmatic as simple as plug and play. There were issues at the broadcaster that would take time to work though.

“There is no such thing as plug and play. We are serving blank ads, there are pass-back issues and reporting issues. We have cross platform specialist sales teams but there is so much complexity. How do we [get across everything] when we have a sales target to hit?”

She said while programmatic was “the future” for broadcasters because it frees up thinking time, “the barrier is the complexity [of supply chain, legals etc.]. It is complex, muddy and hard, but the business is behind it.”

“I wish I could tell you that our strategy was more robust or ground breaking. But we are doing everything we can to make [agencies] buy from us.”

SBS would look to put entire series for people to stream or download upfront, she said, and “work to monetise all our mobile inventory. We have doubled our inventory but there is still opportunity to expand further.”

Meanwhile media agencies are still working out how they will structure programmatic trading teams as TV enters the picture.

Marc Lomas, GM of IPG's Cadreon operation in Australia, said “We are looking at it. It's a very exciting opportunity.” Trading teams may centralise initially, he said, but then decentralise if it was difficult to house all those skills within one unit. “It's still early days.”

TVN's Ostick reckoned that the convergence of TV and digital video was “about three to four years into a ten year plan”.

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