Perhaps the best proof point to shake up the way we trade Linear TV is the sheer volume of money now passing through programmatic TV in Australia.

That’s the view of Mark Frain, chief sales and marketing officer at MCN.

He made his comments in an onstage conversation at the recent Programmatic Summit in Sydney with Indy Khabra, national managing director at Amnet ANZ.

Frain told delegates that out of the $500 million going through the Foxtel TV business, about 20 per cent of that is already traded programmatically.

“Clients are getting data segmentation and automated delivery and so, what we have been able to do due to the quality of the data set, is follow that all the way through to action and transaction. Meaning linear TV is becoming attached to true business outcomes.”

During his presentation, Frain described a retail campaign in the lead up to Christmas which delivered – for every dollar spent on Foxtel – a return of 19 dollars back to the client.

“The results are based on buying television better and smarter and by providing insights and data back to the programmatic team run by Indy (Khabra), who were able to constantly improve the campaign’s delivery and efficiency.

“In the past, you never had that option. Once the campaign started about the only thing you could do was ring up and say, ‘my campaign is not delivering can I get more airtime to solve the short-falls?”

Earlier at the conference Tourism Australia presented the backstory to its recent Crocodile Dundee campaign, something Frain also noted in his comments. “Tourism Australia kicked off with the highest profile linear TV spot in the world – the Super Bowl.

“Then they targeted high spending travel consumers. We can actually trade that segment on linear broadcast. That is a massive sea change in linear television.”

Khabra added programmatic buying is also driving more surety in the market as well as reducing wastage.

“The cross-pollination of television and programmatic buying is not new as online video plays part of client’s marketing strategies, however, what has changed is the way the industry now looks at audience buying underpinned by data.”

“The key take away for us in terms of insight is the need to create a center of excellence that brings both those disciplines closer together and that is going to drive programmatic TV forward.”

Both Frain and Khabra also addressed the issue of the definition of programmatic TV, which is still occasionally a contestable matter in the industry.

The initial concept in the US was largely focused on IPTV, said Frain. “We really wanted to change that, so shifted the focus to the idea of data-driven advertising through linear broadcast and IP.

“To us, the real value is data-driven TV broadcast advertising with significant amounts of automation also underpinning programmatic, ultimately serving across both linear broadcast and IP platforms”

Meanwhile, according to Khabra: “If you are looking at it from a linear TV perspective it is automated and tech-driven, and we are utilising data to target audiences. Depending on the consumer segment you can geo-target. Then, with connected TVs we can start to look at addressable TV.”


When MCN made its journey to programmatic TV, one of the early decisions concerned accountabilities.

Frain told the Programmatic Summit audience: “We had a good look internally and asked who should sell programmatic TV. Will it be the traditional TV sales team or is it the digital team.”

Ultimately they chose to give it to the digital team. “We gave the team a new asset to sell and it was an asset that had true volume attached to it.”

MCN chief sales and marketing officer Mark Frain speaking at the Programmatic Summit 2018

Programmatic payoff

Asked about the benefits of programmatically trading TV, Frain said anyone who has bought and sold TV knows it is a fairly manual process.

“If anything, it is getting worse with the slow evolution of some of the industry systems. So, by simply adding in automation and optimisation on delivery, we are removing some of the pain and anxiety for TV buyers,” he said.

According to Khabra: “When you buy programmatically, you look at data, you look at the audience you are going to buy using first, second and third party data, and then you need media and programmatic experts to deliver that.

He added buyers are looking at several fundamental considerations including:

  • Effectiveness: Does it work, and is it driving the right ROI?
  • Efficiencies: Are the buying processes and the workflows driving operational efficiencies?
  • Simplicity: How easy is it to transact?
  • Analytics: What is the opportunity to overlay rich data segments and then measure outcomes effectively?

The duo concluded by claiming there is significant opportunity in the space, but the industry needs a unified PTV solution, specifically alignment on the segments.

“We need to ensure the definition of PTV is right. We need to bring the audiences together and simplify how we’re going to deliver PTV. We need to embrace the opportunity now, before it gets too complex,” said Khabra.

The bottom line, according to Frain, is that from a TV perspective, the industry is now getting to the point where it is focusing on delivering results and Programmatic TV is the platform that’s going to provide true business outcomes.

Andrew Birmingham is the director of the Which-50 Digital Intelligence Unit of which MCN is a member. DIU members provide their insights and expertise for the benefit of our readers. Membership fees apply.


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