Publica’s Ben Antier on ‘Is TV Dead?’

Exec engages in QA ahead of Streaming TV appearance on Oct. 29
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Ben Antier, COO & co-founder of the Silicon Valley-based digital advertising firm Publica, is taking part in NYC Television Week’s look at how the streaming landscape of the future will work from an ad-supported revenue standpoint. He spoke with us recently about whether TV is really dead, or just napping. Take a look at what Ben Antier has to say, and see Ben in action at NYC Television Week, Oct. 28-30 at The Westin Times Square. As a reader of B&C, get 10% off HERE

Publica's Ben Antier

Ben Antier, COO & co-founder of Publica

Pundits have been predicting ‘the death of TV’ for some time. What’s your opinion?

I personally think that TV isn’t going anywhere. Traditional cable TV might be dying, but users are shifting their viewing behaviors to connected devices (CTV). I believe the adoption of Rokus, Amazon Fire TVs and Samsung TVs are only going to accelerate, and overall time spent consuming content on the big screen is actually going to increase in the years to come.

Your panel is tasked with discussing ‘how to best monetize TV or video's future’? Where do you think the solution lies?

This shift to CTV is creating a massive opportunity for media owners and marketers. The ability to run targeted, measurable ads gives brands incredible insights into the effectiveness of their ad dollars. For media owners, that converts into higher-valued inventory. The rise of advertising sold through real-time bidding on CTV is also healthy for all parties: each ad impression is monetized at a fair value.

This is why I strongly believe the future of TV is programmatic. It’s a win-win for everyone. Advertisers can reach their target audiences with the right message at the right time while media owners can generate more revenue and reinvest the profits into higher-quality content that users love. It’s a virtuous cycle.

What are the biggest challenges in applying programmatic buying to the current marketplace for OTT TV and video?

In our industry, we have the tendency of announcing that we’ve fixed problems way before we actually do. Here are the main challenges that remain:

--Providing level ad experiences: This is absolutely critical to continue on the trends we’ve discussed (i.e., the shift of audience numbers and ad dollars from traditional TV to CTV). The problem is that most programmatic platforms still cannot properly guarantee that a) the same ads won’t be shown twice to the same user in an ad break; b) competing advertisers won’t have their ads run back to back; and c) full HD ads will run uninterrupted until their completion. At Publica, we’ve invested heavily in solving these problems, even if it means blocking out programmatic partners that don’t provide the necessary parameters to support these features.

--Transcoding: Another misconception is that we’ve solved the issues around programmatic delivery. Today, we still see that most connected TV platforms only render about 80 percent of the ads returned. The biggest culprit is the time necessary for transcoding: If a new ad is returned to an SSAI server, by the time the media file is transcoded, the ad break has passed. Techniques exist to solve these problems, but until these have been adopted industry-wide, we cannot completely solve the rendering issue.

--Audience Targeting & Measurement: The main advantage of monetizing programmatically is to give advertisers the ability to target audience segments, and to activate measurement on the ads that are delivered. At this point, this is still very much in its infancy, but I have no doubt that considerable strides will be made in the coming year.

What do you expect people will come away from this panel with, in terms of new insights or best practices?

I think the main message is that OTT is now ready for programmatic advertising, and that publishers of any size can benefit from it, whether they’re smaller publishers struggling to fill their inventory or larger publishers selling directly to advertisers. For the latter, robust audience targeting and measurement solutions will be what ultimately shifts traditional TV budgets to digital.

In that context, I think publishers are probably asking themselves which programmatic partners to work with. The best practice that I can share from my long experience working in the digital space, and now in the OTT sector, is don’t put all of your eggs in the same basket. Video Header Bidding solutions now enable publishers to work with all programmatic buyers, so why do without it?

NYC Television Week takes place Oct. 28-30, 2019, at The Westin, Times Square. See Advanced Advertising, TV Data, The Hispanic Summit and Streaming TV. For 10% off, click here.

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