WideOrbit spot tv automation blog

January 23, 2023

Spot TV automation pushes forward

The automation of processes associated with both marketplace and traditional spot TV ad transactions has been gaining momentum, particularly when it comes to traditional deals that have typically involved significant manual effort.

The heavy focus on marketplace transactions in recent years has distracted from the fact that 93% of local TV ad transactions are still completed using traditional processes and manual workflows. While continued development of marketplace systems is incredibly important, so, too, is developing workflow process improvements for traditional deals. Automation is helping streamline the TV ad sales process from start to finish, for both traditional and marketplace transactions, digital and linear, all the way from pitch through to payment. Automation creates a more efficient and cost-effective transaction process that benefits both advertisers and broadcasters.

The following processes have presented significant challenges to broadcasters for years, involving highly manual workflows and high-touch, low-tech, back-and-forth communications. These processes often involve repetitive, tedious steps that make them time consuming and susceptible to error. They also take valuable time away from more important, revenue-generating business activities, which makes them prime candidates for automation.

The good news is that most of these automations are already available, while the remainder are coming soon.

Automated aggregation of material instructions reduces errors

Manual handling of material instructions isn’t just time-consuming, it’s a process that is rife with the potential for costly errors, making it an incredibly inefficient and risky process. One missed step or a single errant keystroke can create errors that incur significant costs. Automating the aggregation of new and revised material instructions from buy-side systems and agencies eliminates the need to re-key instructions multiple times, while streamlining processes to save valuable time and money. WideOrbit’s Electronic Material Instructions module is available for WO Traffic and WO Network.

Creative materials import automation saves time

Auto-ingestion of creative materials into the traffic system can reduce manual effort, resulting in considerable time savings. Automated import of creative materials from third parties can also reduce data errors by eliminating the need to manually key in items, such as Ad-ID. Read our blog post to learn more about Electronic Materials for WO Traffic.

Automated order validation improves accuracy

Advertisers have unique requirements for the spots they purchase, such as desired dayparts and programming, competitor separation, and more. Automation allows for validation at the point of order entry to ensure compliance with broadcaster-defined business rules before the spot airs. Validation rules can be unique to each buyer, based on customer-specific needs in both spot placement and reporting. Automation eliminates the time-consuming process of manual validation, as well as the need to identify and correct data errors after the spot runs. WO Traffic – Order Validation is a licensed module that ensures all orders comply with broadcaster-defined business rules at the point of order entry.

Simplified makegood processes reduce costs

The process of delivering on a makegood can often take weeks or even months. Whether it’s due to a pre-emption or a shortfall in ratings or impressions, an advertiser wants to negotiate a makegood that will deliver not just the right number of audience deficiency units (ADUs) but the right audience, at the right time, and during the right programming, to achieve the best result. The broadcaster must juggle the advertiser’s complex needs against a limited supply of available inventory, extending the time it takes to manually find and deliver the right spot. Makegood prediction and offer tools, like WideOrbit’s ADU Prediction Tool for WO Network, can make suggestions based on an automated comparison of the advertiser’s needs – the right audience, at the right time, with the right programming – against available inventory. The result is a significant reduction in manual effort to save time, reduce costs, and improve advertiser satisfaction.

Maximize revenue with audience delivery optimization

Networks guarantee delivery of a set number of impressions as part of every deal. A shortfall results in financial liability that must be managed during the flight of the deal, while a surplus results in lost revenue on the impressions that exceed the guarantee – impressions for which the advertiser does not pay.

These are fundamental challenges that can be addressed with automation, as offered by the Audience Delivery Optimizer, a licensed module within WO Network. Unit placements can be automated to garner more impressions without materially sacrificing delivery of units on another deal currently running. With automation, unit placements can be efficiently optimized, resulting in deals that are far less likely to either under- or over-deliver. For networks that means reduced liability, fewer makegoods, and maximized revenue.

Airtime reporting automation improves efficiency

Media organizations spend considerable time and resources manually compiling and sending airtime reports to buyers, often multiple times per week for a single advertiser or agency. WO Airtimes generates an airtime report for each buyer or buyer group and automatically sends that report at the advertiser or agency’s desired cadence, saving broadcasters considerable time while giving advertisers more timely insight into campaign performance. WO Airtimes is available with WO Traffic, WO Network, and WO Omni.

Automated accounts receivable, collections, and payment processing improves cash flow

Automating the accounting cycle reduces or eliminates a wide range of traditionally manual financial processes. When accounting automation is integrated with the traffic system, broadcasters and networks can go from order to invoice, invoice to payment, and payment to cash application and reconciliation, quickly, efficiently, and cost effectively. Days sales outstanding (DSOs) are reduced, improving cash flow and reducing costs. WO Payments Suite integrates seamlessly with WO Traffic, WO Network, and WO Omni.

Marketplace spot TV transactions attract new demand

No conversation about spot TV automation would be complete without mentioning the increasing importance of marketplace transactions, such as those provided by WO Marketplace. Marketplace selling surfaces new demand that broadcasters can evaluate alongside current sold inventory, allowing them to accept only the offers that best meet their needs. Automated marketplace transactions simplify broadcasters’ access to new demand from buyers seeking near-to-air inventory, as well as from national brands looking to achieve national reach by building campaigns using local TV inventory. New demand increases competition, which in turn increases inventory value, and broadcasters retain full control over whether to accept an offer, with complete transparency into the client, the offer, and the creative.

Centralized, end-to-end sales operations

Add all these seemingly small automations together and a unified, automated ad sales tool becomes the next logical step. A next-generation sales tool will be one that centralizes sales operations and eliminates redundancies, built on independently deployable microservices to create a customizable, scalable application platform. Such a tool will span all mediums and devices to encompass total impressions, including cross-device reach and frequency, as well as audience targeting across mediums, platforms, and devices.

In the meantime, these smaller automations provide incremental improvements to workflow and process efficiencies, helping reduce operational costs and capture additional revenue. Automating specific pieces within a large and complex ecosystem offers broadcasters, networks, and agencies immediate benefits in the form of improved efficiency, cost savings, and revenue maximization. Those benefits are both scalable and sustainable for the long term, even as new automations become available.

The promise of digital/linear convergence requires the unification of digital and linear advertising and of marketplace and traditional selling, to allow for the management of both in parallel, within the same systems and using the same, familiar workflows. That means that the work to automate traditional workflows must also happen in parallel with efforts to develop marketplace systems.

Traditional deals aren’t going away anytime soon. Here at WideOrbit we’re streamlining and simplifying the entire process end-to-end, for both traditional and marketplace transactions, both linear and digital, for both broadcasters and buyers.

To learn more about any of these spot TV automations, please contact us.

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