Programmatic TV & Radio: Creative Opportunity
Marzo 9, 2022

When the news emerged that any marketeer could sign up & start delivering TV commercials to the masses I raised an eyebrow. I’ve worked in agencies with expertise in big creative ideas, large productions & lots of eyes on expensive media placements so I was initially skeptical about the potential quality of programmatic TV and Radio advertising.

Firstly I was wondering how ads were even going to appear on our TVs when most of us pay for streaming services. (Well not entirely true in all of Italy, but it will be). Would the next episode of Peaky Blinders be interrupted with an ad for vintage mens hats? I was also imagining people’s favourite TV shows being interrupted by loud hyper-local car salesmen, or cross-fit bedroom business gurus in poorly lit studios flogging get-rich-quick schemes and protein shakes.

The truth of it is that we (probably) won’t have terrible local ads interrupting X-Factor just yet, that’s not quite how it works. I’ll explain more a little later.

Around the world large broadcast networks have launched their own shiny advertising platforms which allow marketers to directly plan & launch campaigns on all sorts of exciting new properties including radio and addressable TVs. Here in Italy I get to work on some great Italian brands, so my agency jumped straight in to explore some new ad managers (clients expect a phone call shortly) and it turns out there are some exciting opportunities.

Addressable programmatic of this type means that traditionally expensive TV or radio spots are within affordable reach for more brands. And to add an integrated aspect you can also connect social and digital adv properties with alarmingly local relevance. For example, if you are served a series of messaging relating to a store, you can then receive push notifications when you are in the vicinity of this (or a competitors) store. Retailers have had a terrible year so the need to drive traffic and footfall is bigger than ever.

But let’s talk about advertising content quality for a moment, because while this is a big opportunity it will benefit brands (and viewers) very little if it is used poorly.

What are the opportunities?

Programmatic TV and radio represents an opportunity to bridge the gap between the mass scale and targeting power of social media with that of traditional media and the audiences who frequent these very large channels. Autonomous ad managers mean that this world is open for anyone to get their messaging across to new audiences too. What will it look like? On one end of the creative spectrum we will have big budget shiny productions, while on the other end we may well see considerably ‘budget’ ads. Both can and do appear in our current social feeds and devices already, so perhaps my fears of decidedly average ads on TV may come true. But there are positives for brands.

This Is a new walled garden to play In

With the spreading pixel apocalypse for 3rd party tracking cookies these are big networks using their own 1st party data. So while some programmatic nets are coming undone, these are new walled gardens open for reaching your desired audience.

Reimagine your creativity strategy

As mentioned creative quality is one of my main concerns for this world, but from what I’ve seen this media isn’t going to be super cheap so hopefully there will be a certain barrier for content quality. All the usual digital formats are on offer when it comes to ads so even more reason to make them stand above the competitors when the gates are open to anyone to play. Give yourself the best chance with the best strategy behind your creativity. I find the best creatives can bring a freshness to a tried and tested (aka tired) format. The fact that a campaign can span so many channels should be ample ammunition for creative/strategic minds to consider how connected ideas can come to life differently across each channel.

New network, new audiences

My favourite type of niche audience is a big niche audience, and TV has lots of them – Sports, entertainment, cooking, film, kids, games, music… the audiences in these large networks are gathered and ready for your finest creativity on TV, radio, digital networks and websites. You would be wise to tailor your creativity so each segment receives a bespoke message too.

Precise & timely placements

Formats such as addressable TV appear on the screen at a moment designed to capture maximum attention without interfering with viewing. As I mentioned earlier, on mobile devices hyperlocal placement means you can reach relevant people when they are near your point of sale or that of your competitors. What creative hook, message or offer will make someone walk through your door?

So can I run effective TV ads now?

The answer is – yes, but will you make it work? Sometimes I meet clients who have had a good attempt at running their own digital advertising and found it to be very time consuming & even ineffective vs their investment. It is after all a full time job.

I compare running ads on these platforms to an open garage with a shiny bicycle inside that you can pay to use. Now I’m sure you would be able to jump on and ride that bike straight away, but you’re not about to go doing backflip-double-tail-whips down a flight of 50 stairs.


Silly as that analogy is, precision riding skills may in reality be what you need to keep up with your competitors, and It’s hard to win a race when you’re barely hanging on so ensure that you get the right people to coach you.

Effective paid media requires a robust strategy, dedicated time, the right creative – and if you’re smart – a good relationship with the team who ‘built the bike’ in the first place.

To recap…

  1. This is a big opportunity on major networks full of new people
  2. Creativity needs to be strategically robust, tailored & the right quality
  3. Paid media expertise will ensure your campaign gets ahead of the pack (and save you wasting money)

So there it is. You can finally afford to be on TV and radio! New screens, new network & new audiences, all that remains is to ensure that you make your content count. Let’s hope the cost per impression will keep the cheap sneakers and protein shake vendors out of our lounge rooms at least for a while.

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