TV Spot Sales Automation Initiatives: Today and Tomorrow


BIA Advisory Services Managing Director Rick Ducey briefed attendees at the recent Media Finance Focus 2019 on the current and future state of Spot TV Sales Automation.

Here are some of the key highlights from his presentation, delivered in New Orleans in mid-May.


The local TV industry’s efforts to automate workflow on both the buy and sell sides facing technology, culture, and change management challenges.

To better compete with digital ad platforms that have automated workflow and data-driven audience targeting, local TV needs to respond faster. Otherwise, the shift to digital ad platforms, reaching nearly half of all local ad spend by 2023, will continue unabated without a competitive response from local TV.

TV groups, agencies, and tech vendors have been making progress and we’re now seeing significant TV spot sales business is starting to flow through these platforms. Over the next year, vendors are expecting to see a lot more local TV spot sales workflow become automated.

Both the buy and sell sides have much to gain from the adoption, first of automated and then programmatic spot sales. Most of the growth in high demand video ad inventory is concentrated in digital categories including desktop, mobile, and out-of-home (OOH) video.

Comparatively, BIA’s Total U.S. Local Video Ad Spending Forecast reveals that local TV/Cable is still currently foundational but that there is concentrated, un-ignorable growth in digital video over the next 5 years.


With programmatic video on a course for 10X growth, the market clearly wants automated, programmatic trading. Local TV is the outlier.

How TV competes with other media — and the FCC’s review of its local media ownership rules — is integral to the competitiveness of broadcast media. As such, ad spend in local media in a marketplace reality where programmatic and digital media are taking dollars away from TV and radio could be augmented through better efficiencies.

It is hard to buy local TV compared to some of the other digital media, which is why ad spend in programmatic and mobile video is growing, while not so much in broadcast. TV is our challenge. We are operating in disparate fashion to the digital market so it’s essential TV comes up with an effective solution. What are the options? Advances in programmatic buying and ATSC 3.0.

Rick DuceyRick Ducey has been Managing Director of BIA Advisory Services since 2000 and is based in Chantilly, Va. He also serves as an adjunct faculty member at George Washington University’s School of Media and Public Affairs, where he teaches “Entrepreneurship in Digital Media.”