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[A version of this post originally ran in AdExchanger.]

The annual network upfront presentations have concluded, and agencies and advertisers are strategizing how to best act on the series of announcements, products, tools, and data that promise a more effective and efficient approach to television. On the surface, “advanced TV advertising” comes across as a simple term, but in reality it is anything but. Few can argue that better data encourages a more informed allocation, and that household-level addressable ad insertion enables refined targeting and reduced waste. Most experts will also agree that improved and integrated systems will allow for better measurement and a streamlined workflow. However, it is how all these components fall in line as individual contributors, and as part of a holistic media strategy that keeps many of us up at night. There is no single solution that provides a perfect balance of new and legacy practice, but there is a suggested line of thinking that can help one organize the pieces that can lead to the right combination that fulfills the objectives needed to achieve a particular, holistic outcome.

Rome wasn’t built in a day, and TV advertising won’t change overnight, but identifying segments even slightly more granularly and appending 3rd party data with viewership data (otherwise known as indexing) will surely identify content allocation options that may have otherwise gone unnoticed. Consider the application of this knowledge from an inventory agnostic perspective. A minor tweak to a national schedule can go a long way, as can the inclusion of inventory sourced outside of the network garden. This type of split strategy can provide both the reach and efficiency needed to achieve the goal.

Addressable targeting on television can be very effective, but over-targeting and/or over-investing in hyper-targeting can be equally as ineffective. With 60% of US households capable of receiving a set-top box targeted ad, the ability to tie that ad exposure back to a sale is a very strong proposition and one that should not be ignored or taken lightly. Making an informed decision on the value addressability adds to the bottom line goal is worth the effort even if the final determination is little or none at all. Dynamic addressable TV ad insertion is here to stay and despite the perceived complexity, the outcomes are solid, and finding the right place for this tactic within the macro plan is a valuable step forward. Indeed, a recent Forrester/Association of National Advertisers survey found that 15-17% of advertisers in the US already regularly include addressable or advanced TV buys in their media plans, and additional 20-30% of advertisers plan to start dipping their toe into advanced and addressable TV techniques this year.

When thinking about automation and platform-based trading partners, agencies and brands should consider working with those who aspire to improve your business and not just their business. Everybody has a platform these days, but few are truly willing or able to adapt their platform to suit the needs of a specific agency, advertiser or content provider. Given everyone’s unique requirements, a platform must work hard and be well architected to satisfy a variety of needs and still meet the primary business goals. A true “partner platform” is far more concerned with solving problems and adding ease to execution than it is with individual name recognition. Back office work and white label support can be very effective, particularly in this new world of television advertising.

As we enter a more data-driven era of TV advertising, it is important to think of advanced tactics not as individual campaigns, but pieces of one holistic television initiative. Testing is critical; however, if the test proves positive, it is important to move beyond that initial phase and introduce the new proven tactic to the larger overall media mix. While no new television initiative is perfect, neither is our current practice, and holding out for perfection will almost certainly be a missed opportunity.