The programmatic reality of syncing TV and online ads

The programmatic reality of syncing TV and online ads

There’s been much talk about programmatic’s role in TV advertising, but it’s important to dispel some of the myths and face the reality of what programmatic is able to deliver in regards to TV and advertising.

The talk about the role of programmatic in TV advertising in the U.K. by so-called experts has reached mythical proportions. Unfortunately, much of that talk has been cheap, and in reality, it’s at least another five years before the TV buying marketplace is dominated, in any way, by pure-play programmatic buying.

That isn’t to say that TV networks and other players aren’t taking advantage of programmatic opportunities to enhance their offerings in other ways. In fact, one such method being used is through a sophisticated targeting technique called ad-syncing.

What is ad-syncing?

Ad-syncing aligns ads served on connected digital devices with those in TV and radio campaigns. It simply takes advantage of today’s digital technology to reach TV and TV-like audiences in a new way – programmatically.

For example, let’s say someone is watching the X-Factor on TV and during the break, an ad appears for a car brand. Within milliseconds of the TV ad appearing, the same or similar ad can also be served to any one of the digital devices the viewer may be using at the same time. This is ad-syncing.

This happens through ad-sync companies like MediaSync, wywy and TVTY who’ll receive a “signal to sync” upon which they access online and mobile exchange inventory to provide relevant ads to these secondary devices in real time.

Why is it good for media planning?

This technology should be of serious interest to media planners and clients in the connected age. The commercial marketing body for U.K. TV, Thinkbox, estimates about 80 percent of Britons “second screen” when watching TV, so the ability to extend your audience reach in real time is an obvious benefit.Ad-syncing also offers up some neat tactical options.  It can be used to target ads around specific TV programs, “trigger events” like hot or cold weather and even sports tournaments like the Olympics. It can also be activated nationally around an important launch campaign or used to target a specific region, such as when an FMCG brand trials TV campaigns for new products at a local level to keep costs down – all at a very cost-efficient level.

The positive performance metrics delivered through ad-syncing are clear. Evidence shows “synced” campaigns score above average on driving website traffic and quality clicks. Also, site analytics show high increases in engagement, new customer visits and post-view conversions.

So who’s doing it well?

It is still early, but various brands have already seen powerful results. Tourism operator TUI has been a leading ad-sync supporter in recent years, across both TV and radio campaigns.

They’ve publicly stated these campaigns are outperforming others in terms of lower customer acquisition costs (MediaSync said these have dropped 54 percent) and generating more leads at the top of the sales funnel.

Renault has said their ad-synced campaigns have resulted in a 113 percent increase in click-through rates whilst Sony has said to have a 210 percent increase.

Going forward?

TV ad-syncing can still only take place by accessing the various online ad exchanges, so it is still relatively simplistic. The bigger opportunity lies in overlaying other key parts of the online ecosystem, such as sharing data to the TV and radio syncing opportunity. That’s when it gets really interesting.

Thankfully, that future is here and available now so expect to see plenty of more realistic movement in the “programmatic TV” space in the months ahead.


Louise BriggsLouise Briggs, Head of Agency Sales, RadiumOne U.K.


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