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File Open - Save As

Another television upfront is behind us and despite all of the talk around data and custom targets, it is fair to say that we have witnessed another “file open – save as” moment in the industry. I love this analogy as it represents what is going on so well – we start with last year’s plan, make some incremental changes and assume we are adapting to the new landscape. What we need to be doing is starting with a clean sheet of paper.


There is not a single marketer that develops communications plans based on Nielsen age/sex demos yet that continues to be the way that we buy. As I talk to more and more sales leaders at broadcast and cable networks, they can confirm that the marketplace is still using these antiquated targets as buying currencies. In fact, by my estimate, still over 85% of the market is still transacted on broad, generic demographics. Why is this and when will the market move?


I think it is because it is easy and it allows us to look as our plans over time in a similar way. Custom targets are just that – custom, and it makes execution across the ecosystem difficult if not impossible. Folks like OpenAP, NCC, Xandr and others are trying hard to create some simplification and standardization – and I believe over the next 18 months we are going to see meaningful progress in this area.


There are some that believe we are going to skip over custom targets (as it is too complicated) and move straight to a currency based on business outcomes. While exciting for sure – I don’t think we are going to make that leap as an industry in the near term.


First things first. Let’s buy the way that we plan. And that’s based on custom audience segments developed from 1st and 3rd party data. Then, let’s stop the “file open – save as” mentality and start with a blank sheet of paper. It’s the only way to break the vicious cycle and dichotomous world we live in.


After all – we all know the saying about the definition of insanity, right?

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