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Exclusive: Big shakeup in digital TV buying

Adapted from eMarketer; Chart: Axios Visuals

Mediaocean, the 50-year-old TV-buying platform that is used to purchase an estimated 75% of all TV ads in the U.S, is partnering with Adobe's Advertising Cloud to integrate digital ad buying with TV.

Why it matters: Just a fraction of TV ads today are bought digitally, even though the technology is there to serve digital TV ads to more than half of Americans. This is largely because until now, media buyers haven’t had access to the buying infrastructure that would allow them to buy TV ads in a way that could integrate all of the data sets they need to buy the ads digitally.

The details: Adobe is licensing Spectra, Mediaocean’s traditional buying software, to integrate digital ad buying with TV, giving Adobe clients the ability to buy and sell video ads seamlessly through Adobe’s traditional and digital solutions. Adobe's Marketing Cloud is an independent media buying tool that represents over $3 billion in ad spending.

  • With the partnership, buyers will now be able to automate every aspect of a TV ad buy — from schedule maintenance and pacing to invoicing and reconciliation — directly from Adobe Advertising Cloud TV.
  • Buyers will also benefit from a much faster program, that can better update and optimize ad buys.
  • They'll also have access to first-party digital audience data from Adobe Experience Cloud that they can leverage to target ad campaigns more accurately.

This partnership represents the first time an independent marketing stack company has partnered to use Mediaocean to manage the full television buying process.

  • Experts expect this partnership to significantly increase digital TV buying, which is estimated to have brought in less than $5 billion in revenue last year — less than 10% of the $70+ billion TV ad market. (See above.)
  • The move is also a major threat to Google, which announced in April that it will now let advertisers buy TV ads in real time through DoubleClick Bid Manager (DBM), its automated ad bidding system.
  • Bottom line: It will take ad buyers some time to integrate the technology into their TV buying habits, but this partnership will make it significantly easier.

Google and Facebook will be paying attention to the partnership: The two biggest advertising platforms are investing heavily in their own video content, which they will need to sell ads against, yet both are also be trying to provide ad-buying solutions for other marketers. 

  • Some ad-serving companies see Google and Facebook's positions on both the demand-side and supply-side of the digital video space as a conflict of interest. They argue that because their companies don't own any media to sell against, they are better positioned to be the transparent middle man in the digital TV-buying space.

Adobe and The Trade Desk, two of the largest digital ad placement services, are both bringing this argument to clients.

  • "The questions for brands is — when you want to buy ads not on Google or Facebook, do you want to use their supply-side technology or do you want to use an independent player?" asks Rob Perdue, Chief Operating Officer of The Trade Desk. "You always have to wonder, am I buying media objectively? '
  • "We need to make sure we stay fiercely independent and do what best for our client," says Phil Cowlishaw Head of Special Operations Consulting at Adobe. "We don't hold any media or make any money from media."
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