In an interview with exchange4media and Impact, GroupM President, Data, Performance and Digital Products, Atique Kazi, said Finecast is currently available for CTV with plans underway to expand to linear television. He also revealed that the agency is working with broadcasters and distribution platforms to enable targeted advertising on linear television. Below are the edited excerpts from the conversation.
What prompted GroupM to launch Finecast in India?
Television advertising is changing. We are seeing a massive shift in consumer behavior on television. Today, consumers have more options for accessing television content. Previously it was only through linear channels. Within the traditional ecosystem, many other options have emerged in the cable and DTH space. Over the past few years, we have seen the emergence of OTT. With all of these changes in the media landscape, consumers have started to access content in multiple ways, including linear TV, connected TV, and OTT. Therefore, we cannot view TV advertising in isolation by ignoring newer access points like OTT and CTV. We need to have a total TV conversation and that’s mainly why we brought in Finecast to accelerate the idea of doing integrated TV planning and not just linear TV planning.
Currently, broadcasters monetize linear and digital platforms separately. With the launch of Finecast, will we see more TV + Digital deals between advertisers and broadcasters?
Finecast has a certain philosophy and we don’t compromise on that. If you look at the global positioning of Finecast, it provides access to broadcast quality inventory across all devices. Anything on the linear stream would be part of Finecast. For example, even if there is a popular YouTube channel with millions of subscribers, we will not take that particular channel into our supply mix if that channel’s content is not available on linear TV.
What is the idea of having broadcast only TV content under Finecast?
With Finecast, we want to keep the philosophy of television advertising intact. We do not want any compromising points. The TV hardware remains the same, it’s just the access points that change. If I start looking at other formats like User Generated Content (UGC), some points (brand safety) stand out. We also believe that some of the broadcast quality content we watch is more home viewing and UGC content is more individual viewing. Finecast is a product intended for households and not for individuals.
How does Finecast work?
At one end of the spectrum you have publishers/broadcasters and at the other end of the spectrum you have brands that want to reach consumers. What we have in between is a proprietary tool called FCAP which is our Finecast Audience Planner. FCAP leverages all the supply information we have from all OTT players. Thus, it will capture all the information about the inventory that OTT players have and the genres and geographies where that inventory will come from. We have worked with some of the data partners in India to go ahead and map all available data such as wealth data, census data and points of interest data on this platform. particular form. So my geographic key on the platform is the postal code. Now I can tell you in the zip code how many households are there in this zip code, what is the level of wealth in this zip code in addition to car ownership data, the number of schools in this locality , etc. This information is now available in addition to publisher data for brands to go ahead and use to target specific consumers.
What type of response has Finecast received from broadcasters and brands and in the future? Will this pave the way for more integrated TV + digital advertising offerings?
At GroupM, we have at least 60-70 clients who work with us on Finecast from a client’s portfolio perspective and include all possible categories. From the broadcaster/publisher, we have everyone in the mix straight from Disney+ Hotstar, SonyLIV, Voot and MX Player. If I do an audience graph, we cover about 95% of the addressable households on the connected TV itself. For now, the Finecast solution is only on the connected TV.
In terms of integrated TV + digital planning, three years later you will have a situation where broadcasters will sell bundled packages that will have linear TV + OTT together. Currently, everything seems compartmentalized.
When do you plan to include linear channels in the Finecast mix?
It is a work in progress. We are working with partners on how we can also make linear streams addressable. We are working on the possibility of cutting the linear feed at the decoder level (STB) and during the advertising break to replace linear advertisements with targeted advertisements relevant to this specific household or geographical area. This will take a long time as we will have to work with broadcasters and distribution platforms. For broadcasters, this will be managing their inventory and the type of fill they can create. So, suppose you run an ad in the best region of the country, what ad do you run in the rest of the region where you don’t select those specific audiences?
The broadcaster and distributor will play the most important role. Our role will be to bring information to the public about the cuts we want to go ahead and announce. Distribution platforms like Airtel, Tata Play and others will need to make their set-top boxes smart so their boxes can have a way back. Broadcasters will need to give authority and flexibility to distribution platforms to dynamically insert ads.
Have you entered into discussions with platforms and broadcasters to enable targeted advertising on linear streams?
We’ve started discussions with some of the distribution players and we’ve started testing with some of the partners what those scenarios might look like and what the benefit is for national and local advertisers. In this opportunity to make the linear stream addressable, we will see betas and samples happening by the end of this year. Scaling targeted ads to linear feeds will take another three years.
How is the CTV ecosystem shaping up from an advertising perspective?
According to our internal data, CTV’s reach has grown from 8-9 million households in 2021 to 20-25 million this year. This increase in CTV’s global universe requires that advertising dollars flow into this advertising funnel as well. For CTV advertising, we work with some broadcasters on guaranteed programmatic setup and there are some publishers we work with on auction models.
We have also commissioned a study in which we want to analyze the audience’s listening behavior on CTV. In some genres, co-visioning is believed to occur while in some genres, viewing is done in a siled fashion. We estimate that 2.4 people watch content on connected devices. However, this number varies from gender to gender.
How does GroupM, as an agency, ensure that CTV gets its due from advertisers?
We’ve integrated CTV into our TV planning framework, giving us a holistic view of TV plans. We go to our customers and talk about the additional reach they will get when using CTV + Linear TV versus planning standalone TV. In our TV scheduling systems across GroupM agencies, we have already included CTV scheduling scope curves.
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