Spot TV Needs Holistic Approach To Automation

Broadcasters, advertisers and agencies need an approach to buying and selling spot TV that streamlines and simplifies the entire process end-to-end for traditional and automated transactions.

Put any group of local TV broadcasters, advertisers, agencies and software providers into a room (or on a video call) to talk about the buying and selling spot TV, and the conversation will inevitably turn to the importance of performance-based campaigns, impression-based selling and automated transactions.

While those things may well be the future, according to eMarketer, 95% of local spot TV transactions are still completed using more traditional, and highly manual, workflows. An argument could even be made that those traditional deals will never completely disappear.

The implication is clear — we need a more holistic approach, one that looks for ways to streamline and simplify the entire process end-to-end for both traditional and automated transactions, digital and linear, from pre-buy, proposals, avail requests and negotiation, right through to payment processing.

Broadcasters, advertisers, agencies and vendors are all invested in simplifying the process of buying and selling spot TV. Everyone can benefit from processes that are easier, more efficient and more cost-effective.

The processes below are notorious for highly-manual workflows and high-touch, back-and-forth communication by email or even fax. These processes often involve repetitive, tedious steps that take valuable time away from the more important business of selling spots. They’re also prime candidates for automation.

Electronic material instructions: Manual handling of electronic material instructions isn’t just time-consuming, it’s a process that is rife with the opportunity for costly errors. Automating the import of aggregated electronic material instructions, both new and revised, would save both time and money, freeing sales executives from the tedium of manual data entry.


Order validation: Automating order validation at the point of order entry would ensure all orders comply with established, broadcaster-defined business rules before a spot airs. Automating validation would eliminate the time wasted searching for and correcting missing or incorrect data at month’s end.

Auto-ingestion of creative materials into the traffic system: Significant time savings can be realized through automated, electronic import of creative materials from third parties into the traffic system. In addition to saving time, auto-ingestion can also reduce data errors by eliminating the need to manually key in items, such as Ad-ID.

Air times: Manually compiling spot air time data and sending to the advertiser or agency requires a great deal of manual effort. Automatically generating an air time report for each buyer or buyer group and automatically sending that report to the advertiser or agency would save significant time. For advertisers, auto-delivery of spot data also provides faster insight into campaign performance.

Automated makegood suggestion tools: The process of delivering on a makegood can take weeks or even months. Whether it’s due to a preemption or a shortfall in ratings or impressions, the advertiser wants to negotiate a makegood that will deliver not just the right number of viewers but the right audience at the right time and during the right programming to achieve the best result.

The broadcaster has to juggle all that against a limited supply of available inventory, which is why it can take so long to find and deliver the right spot. An automated makegood suggestion tool would offer options based on a comparison of the advertiser’s needs against available inventory, reducing manual effort, saving significant time and improving advertiser satisfaction.

Invoicing and payment processing: Automating the collections cycle can reduce or eliminate a wide range of traditionally manual financial processes. When integrated with the traffic system, broadcasters 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) can be reduced, improving cash flow and reducing costs.

Traditional buys aren’t going away, at least not any time soon. Our industry needs a more holistic approach, one that addresses both traditional and automated transactions, both linear and digital, to streamline and simplify the entire process end-to-end for both broadcasters and buyers, today and into the future.

Will Offeman is chief product officer at WideOrbit.

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2018bstyrevr says:

September 11, 2020 at 7:24 am

A perfect example of what absolute blowhards Local tv executives are..This has been an issue forever and what has been done besides NOTHING!! And you wonder why the business is terminal!!