WASHINGTON—COVID-19 came down on most of the world like a freight train, and as a result, how we deal with our lives—professionally and personally—have had to change nearly as quickly. That rapid process of change is not about to skip the TV industry, and in this instance, how business management systems continue to evolve.
Whether their primary objective is helping broadcasters handle advertising and traffic needs via the management of metadata, providers have focused their attention to a number of key processes that have been brought about by current events.
Since mid-March, the majority of work forces have been keeping up with their day-to-day tasks from home. Many were unaware of just how the process would change for them.
“There weren’t a lot of people, a lot of our customers, that were talking about how to sustain a 95% ‘work-from-home’ posture,” said Steve Reynolds, president of Imagine Communications. In response, Imagine has been making much of its business management platform suitable for distributed use, whether via the cloud or possibly as a managed service. But it was still a change that people had to get used to.
Myers also had a number of customers questioning how best to handle operations remotely. They, like Imagine, had previously developed the capability and have been further developing it with its ProHost 2.0. While being able to fully integrate with all systems inside a given media facility, an edge device makes ProHost 2.0 available accessible anywhere, according to Mike Tirrell, CTO for the Westfield, Mass.-based provider of radio and TV management software.
What many users have been surprised to learn during this time is how little their work has actually been impacted because of the work-from-home orders, and in some cases, how more efficient they are. As a result, a return to the office and the type of previous operations pre-COVID doesn’t feel as urgent.
“I think there are a lot of companies now that are looking at what they can do with managed services and what they can do in the public cloud as being not just a business continuity plan but indeed being the primary plan for how they want to run their business moving forward,” said Reynolds.
COMPETING AGAINST DIGITAL
When it comes to advertising, TV has long been one of the predominant platforms for companies to spend on. But digital has emerged in recent years, and with the ad market severely impacted by COVID-19, the gap between TV and some of the big digital players like Google and Facebook is becoming clearer. Still, media companies should be taking this time to find ways to reassert its powerful position in the ad world.
“The premium television companies possess [digital’s] value, but their execution systems, the way they run their businesses, has grown to be very siloed—one platform stack on top of the next,” said Lorne Brown, CEO of Operative, a provider of automated advertising software. “The TV market ... needs to modernize their tech stacks in order to compete in this new marketplace and unlock their value.”
The dominant theme these days is programmatic advertising, which Myers’ CEO Crist Myers defines as, “making sure that the right programming is meeting your audience.” Although it is becoming more widespread in recent years, the development of the ATSC 3.0 standard will give broadcasters new tools to better target specific segments of the population, Myers’ Tirrell explains.
While digital has gotten out in front with programmatic, WideOrbit has developed “MarketPlace” and “Programmatic Digital” to help remove barriers to TV’s full use of the technology, like transactions, according to Mike Zinsmeister, CRO for the San Francisco-based provider of business management systems for M&E.
Brown, however, doesn’t see programmatic having the biggest potential for business management systems. Instead he is more focused on creating multifaceted systems that combine a number of different needs of users.
BRINGING IT ALL TOGETHER
In our review of business management systems for M&E a year ago, we discussed how combining the different facets of business management into single platforms was underway. That approach has only increased in the current environment.
“It all comes back to this concept of having a unified infrastructure,” said Brown from Operative, whose flagship cloud-based AOS is designed to help media companies integrate the various aspects and platforms of their business and allow them to sell it in ways buyers want to consume it.
Nearly all of the companies we spoke with have these types of products, whether they are for full system operation, or focus on the many different aspects of a single function like advertising. WideOrbit has its Unified Sales Suite to connect buyers and sellers through a single, easy platform. The latest version of Myers’ ProTrack, 7.0, features a variety of services for managing, publishing and more. Imagine’s XG Gameplan gives users insights into supply and demand aspects, as well as audience and other facets.
“I think that what we’re seeing with COVID-19 is a decade of trends in 18 months,” said Brown. Providers and users just have to try and keep up.
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