How ATSC 3.0 Will Impact Brand Marketing

Robert StrandSeptember 12, 20196 min

Companies have sales strategies for their products and distribution. Brand and product messaging rely on content and flow. Today that includes television advertising and the various forms of social media available on multiple devices.

“Tomorrow” you will have access to real-time data vis-à-vis your advertising, brand messaging, consumer interaction and sales by zip code. Will you be ready? Ready to respond, react, direct your media buying agencies, make strategic decisions, etc. in real-time? Will you have the human and data resources and budgets approved for this new paradigm?

Since their introduction in the 1990s, Advanced Television Systems Committee (ATSC) standards have become an integral part of the broadcast industry. However, while ATSC no doubt revolutionized the broadcast industry, over time ATSC 1.0 became outdated and unable to keep up with an increasingly mobile society. As a result, the industry is continuing to look at the implementation of ATSC 3.0.

ATSC 3.0 is the world’s first Internet-Protocol (IP)-based television standard, and is the convergence of OTA (over the air) with OTT (over the top) broadcast. It promises resolutions up to Ultra HD 4K TV, high dynamic range, refresh rates up to 120Hz and better reception at home, as well as on mobile devices.

ATSC 3.0 will accelerate the amount of cord-cutting by people who are considering canceling their cable or satellite TV subscriptions.

While traditional pay-TV today provides superior viewing quality, OTT video commonly excels in discovery, portability, and personalized user experiences. Consumers care less about the network used to deliver the content than they do about access to the content, ease of use, and convenience.

None of the OTT or streaming services are possible without a sufficiently fast internet service, which costs from $50 to $100 per month. And what vendors provide that internet service? Most often home internet is supplied by the local cable company. But, what if even that ‘cable’ could be cut?

Within the next couple of years, new delivery technologies, such as 5G and ATSC 3.0, will offer strong competition to the world’s free over-the-air (OTA) broadcast models and OTT needs for internet service. Note that 5G is a uni-cast model, and ATSC 3.0 is a multi-cast model.

Streaming TV services often don’t carry local TV stations like NBC and Fox local affiliates, which aren’t available in every marketing for services like Sling TV. That puts local TV stations and their owners at risk of going under as more people go over the top. Now, they’re looking to go over the top with a new broadcast standard, called ATSC 3.0 that will let people stream local channels for free on their phones and let local TV stations sell targeted ads; with ATSC 3.0, everything is measured. They will know exactly who saw what show, and who saw what ad and when.

How Will This Happen?

There will be a chip that the companies making TVs, phones, laptops, tablets, cars — basically anything with a screen — will need to build into those devices. ATSC 3.0 is supposed to make it so that you could get all channels on a regular TV screen, your phone, laptop, tablet, and even your car.

Netflix for example, will be available on any device without the need for an internet connection; this will result in an oversupply of new content. The global content market is projected to reach $2.2 trillion by 2021, and it will have new ways to connect with content consumers.

Oversupply of content creates great opportunities for aggregators and recommender services like PlayPilot, JustWatch, and ReelGood that intend to take away the hassle of having to go through several websites/apps to know what to watch next. This will, in turn, allow brand marketers a whole new world and way to develop consumer relationships with addressable content.

Targeted ads and brand content delivered through ATSC 3.0 will let TV stations track what you’re watching, and take that into account when deciding which ads to show you. That information can be combined with other information, like where you are watching at the zip code level so that TV stations can sell targeted ads, which they can generally charge more money for compared to non-targeted ads.

Brand Strategy ATSC 3.0

Your ‘Good Hands’ were in your home, and will soon be in your home, your devices and your car.

In 2012, Allstate, the No. 2 U.S. insurer, launched a new effort for renter’s insurance, which reached TV viewers who rent, rather than own, their homes. The ads, beamed on a highly targeted basis by Dish Network and DirecTV, marked the first time Allstate used TV to advertise renter’s insurance products that signaled that addressable TV-advertising technology, long ballyhooed but seldom used, was starting to gain momentum. Using addressable ads, marketers can predetermine the type of consumer who will see their commercials. In this case, Allstate took consumer data widely available from firms such as Experian, Epsilon and Axicom, along with subscriber information from Dish and DirecTV, and used all this to pinpoint renters. In other words, if the subscriber was a homeowner, the commercial did not appear on the TV screen. By using both DirecTV and Dish, Allstate’s new-technology commercials reached about 15 million households.

Will This Be Mandatory Or Voluntary?

Voluntary. In November of 2017, the FCC approved ATSC 3.0 as the next generation of broadcast standard, on a voluntary, market-driven basis.  They also required stations to continue broadcasting ATSC 1.0 (i.e. “HD”) for the time being. This is part of the issue as to why it’s voluntary.

During the mandatory DTV transition in the early 2000s, stations in a city were given a new frequency (channel, in other words), to broadcast digital TV, while they still broadcast analog on their old channel. The FCC for other uses eventually reclaimed these older channels when the proverbial switch was flipped to turn off analog broadcasts. Since that’s not happening this time, stations and markets are left to themselves how best to share or use the over-the-air spectrum in their areas.

When Do I Need To Prepare For This?

Today. ATSC 3.0 has already been approved by the Federal Communications Commission and is being tested in Phoenix and Dallas. A group of local TV station owners has said they plan to support ATSC 3.0 by 2020.

So remember when social media was born, and brands scrambled to understand its impact on their business, and needed to find and hire people who could grasp what social media means? Those early days when no one yet fully understood how to decipher their brand and product positioning as it pertained to this new form of media? Here are some things marketers should consider now:

1. Establish a working group of brand and product marketers, IP data experts, budgeting and finance, consumer insight experts and creative to discuss and hone in on the most promising ATSC 3.0 addressable content opportunities for your business.

2. Educate your entire community, including board members, company officers, and brand leadership, quickly about ATSC 3.0’s capabilities and rapidly approaching decision points. What will you want to own and outsource, and how will your content flow to your advertising & content distribution partners. Decisions will include technical and equipment decisions vis-à-vis how broadcasters will operate – tied to the FCC’s post-auction repacking process, the anticipated FCC decision on ATSC 3.0 adoption and system-wide planning that will be needed to pursue the educational, public service and commercial opportunities presented by the new standard.

3. Agree on a few specific opportunities, and identify your touchpoints to real-time data; how will you connect real-time product sales information with real-time addressable content and advertising? How will you be prepared to evolve your consumer relationship in real-time?

4. Begin to explore partnerships with commercial enterprises to use ATSC 3.0 for revenue-generating purposes.

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