Programmatic TV: on the bench or just warming up?

Will programmatic ads be the real champion of the upcoming Super Bowl?

Last year was the debut of programmatic Super Bowl TV ads, with Oreo and Ritz the first to give it a whirl.

Programmatic’s efficiency and ease have many buyers contemplating purchasing TV ads programmatically. With Super Bowl 50 upon us, what changes in ad buying can we expect to see beyond the big game?

New ways to watch

Gone are the days when millions of people tuned in to watch the Super Bowl across the country by simply tuning into the network broadcasting the game.

Now viewers can watch through their preferred over-the-top device (OTT) and streaming service.


In 2015, there were even more options for streaming as Verizon, Comcast, and Dish expanded their service offerings.

As you can imagine, tracking who watches what and from where was an analyst’s nightmare, until Nielsen took on the task of changing TV’s measurement with Total Audience Measurement (TAM). This advancement was devised to accommodate this new fragmented way of viewing.

New ways to buy Super Bowl ads

Along with new ways of viewing the game, marketers now have more opportunities to connect to Super Bowl viewers through this new source of programmatic inventory.

As a consequence, new types of placements may drive down the price of ads as buyers have fewer limitations on media purchases.

Super Bowl 50 ads were almost sold out by November. However, could a fragmented way of buying lend itself to a new landscape? One where those without $5 million to spend on 30 second TV ad spots are still able to get their marketing message via a different medium?

I believe so.

Future predictions

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Aside from the guac-dipped nachos and the actual game, people go to Super Bowl parties to watch the over the top commercials as well as the halftime show. Though Programmatic TV ad buying may still be nascent, it will likely lead to a change in the overall Super Bowl culture.

Buyers that are able to create a cohesive audience using multiple devices will most likely be able to make these ads a larger part of the media conversation, if there is enough supply to meet demand.

Though now that social media has been interwoven into the mix and people are able to tweet their opinions in real-time, very different conversations could be had if programmatic buys differ among devices and geographies.

Final thoughts

While technology does present some challenges, the true test will be to see if programmatic can shift the conversation during large viewership events like the Super Bowl – especially as more brands invest in interactive marketing? Or will it simply give more opportunity to brands that don’t have the huge media budgets?

I don’t believe that Anheuser-Busch or Frito-Lay will be pushed out, but we may get to see some new players enter the Super Bowl ad arena.

Article images via Flickr.

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