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Programmatic and the future of the Super Bowl ad

Super bowl

While the Denver Broncos and Carolina Panthers battled it out for Super Bowl 50, the biggest brands around the world put aside their better instincts about data-savvy consumer segmentation and spent big for a TV appearance during the game.

The Super Bowl is certainly a meaningful moment in the TV calendar for advertisers, but sentiment about its impact and effectiveness are still very much rooted in old-school thinking. With programmatic buying methods currently in the ascendancy, and digital television growing fast, what will Super Bowl ads look like in 2020?

Super bowl

The undercurrent driving changes in TV advertising is the growth of programmatic marketing. Global programmatic ad spend will reach $37bn by 2019. This will mean the dawn of programmatic TV, which by some accounts is projected to rise from $1B in 2016 to $12B in 2020.

Despite the dramatic growth of programmatic advertising, there hasn’t yet been a creative experience for an advertiser that’s quite like the couch — one that provides the ability to serve the immersive sound and inspiring imagery of rich media on a big screen to an engaged, captivated audience.

But as the link between traditional TV and digital devices strengthens, the TV becomes a powerful channel to deliver more targeted and relevant messages; particularly as the ability to have a better understanding of consumers increases, based on their mobile and desktop device activities. The opportunities for programmatic television when it comes to Super Bowl are too great to ignore and industry watchers are predicting the Super Bowl ad to undergo a dramatic transformation as the digital advertising tools that have enabled an unprecedented degree of targeting and measurement become available for traditional TV ads.

With the ability to sync linear television to individuals in a household, advertisers have an opportunity to deliver tailored Super Bowl messages, designed to influence consumers toward a desired action.  For example, based on a person’s browsing activity, marketers can learn whether a consumer is in the market for a new car and in the right demographic for a luxury car. Toyota’s Super Bowl ad for the Rav4, delivered into the household of a single family home, may have dramatically different creative than the ad streamed into an apartment that is home to recent graduates. Cross-device digital advertising can also come into play on Game Day, as well. Toyota may target a mother ‘second screening’ on her tablet with a message of safety. Whereas, her 18-year-old son, Tweeting about the game on his mobile, may view an ad touting independence and adventure.

Not only that, television will be an input for greater digital marketing programs that inform and optimise other channels, creating a feedback loop. With a real-time connection to the web via set-top boxes, personal devices, or even connected glasses, consumers will be able to choose the ads they like via a “click” such as a button or voice command (“Cool ad!”). Advertisers will then be able to learn which Super Bowl ads individuals like, providing a more personalised and valuable experience to both the viewer and the advertiser.

As people and objects continue to coalesce and the ‘Internet of Things’ becomes an increasingly tangible concept, marketing in the moment — regardless of time, location, and device — will be crucially important. Early inroads that capitalise on emerging digital channels are already being rolled out by Rocket Fuel in the US. Our partnership with DISH Media Sales enabled the integration of linear TV into the digital advertising ecosystem. In addition to the six billion plus daily digital video programmatic bidding opportunities that already exist on computers and mobile devices, this partnership added another eight million addressable households in the US. That’s far larger than anything that has existed to date. And we believe it’s plenty big enough for advertisers to start checking it out and draw significant learnings from their activity.

Programmatic TV and the Aussie market

Looking to the Australian market, we’re still a couple of years away from data-driven, automated linear TV buys as there are still a number of major hurdles to cross – firstly we need to address the fundamental infrastructure i.e. solving the interoperability between digital and TV technologies. However as agency and brand budgets around ‘video’ and ‘TV’ evolve into ‘connected’ or ‘advanced TV’ buckets, the tech will transition along with it.

In order to truly declare programmatic TV as a reality in Australia, we have to be able to go into a Demand Side Platform (DSP) or existing ad server and see placements and data that report across screens.

Television has a finite amount of inventory and content owners will always protect premium inventory, however, television networks will surely be compelled by the opportunity (and market expectation) to programmatically monetise non-primetime spots overlaid with audience data. For programmatic TV to reach it’s full potential the ability to extend first-party, transaction-based data into television buys will be crucial.

The pace of change in the media industry continues to make heads spin, but there’s one thing to remember – meaningful connections are still what counts. Whether it’s the Super Bowl or the supermarket aisle, marketers will always be in the business of connecting people with brands, and today’s digital technology creates more opportunities than ever to make the right connection at the right moment.

Programmatic TV, whenever it arrives, will play an important part in making one of the most loved mediums endure into the future.

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About JJ Eastwood – ‎MD, Australia & NZ, Rocket Fuel
JJ Eastwood is the Managing Director, Australia and New Zealand at Rocket Fuel. He will be speaking on a panel about Fulfilling On The Promise Of Programmatic at the upcoming Programmatic Summit.