Four Decades of Pent-Up Need For Changes Will Upend TV Ad World

  • by , Featured Contributor, March 19, 2020
Upfronts canceled, postponed or virtualized. Massive live sports events canceled. Hundreds of millions of Americans spending most of the next month(s) indoors at home with their families, looking for something to do.

It's stating the obvious to note that today’s health crisis is already having an enormous impact on the media industry. But have you considered that many of these changes are likely to be permanent? Especially in the world of TV and video advertising.

The television and video ad ecosystem is going to undergo a massive transformation over the next four quarters. Why not faster? Because linear TV operates on annual cycles and still comprises 90% of bulk premium video ad load in the U.S.

Here's some of what I expect:

More video consumption. It will happen across all screens, as more people watch more linear TV, streaming video, OTT, and video games. The device with the most viewing is likely to be the television, as most research indicates folks typically watch the largest screen available.



More fragmentation. Increased video consumption is going to be fragmented everywhere, particularly with the loss of so much of “tentpole TV”: prime-time, which fits typical work schedules, and live sports, which is all being canceled. Viewing will be on more channels, both linear and streaming, spread more across the day, on more devices, with more viewing of niche programming -- and much, much more video gaming.

Predictable results. We are almost certainly going into a recession. Money from marketers will be tight, and results will be expected from all media investments, whether branding or performance, and will need to be predictable and sometimes guaranteed. 

Here's what the market will need:

Total video audience platforms. Marketers will demand synchronized, cross-platform aggregation of video, as data-driven software platforms aggregate ad avails across linear TV, OTT, video gaming and short-form mobile on an audience, content and performance basis.

Instant activation (and deactivation). Advertisers will take more oversight and control over their video campaigns, even TV media. They will expect video campaigns to get up (and down) fast, with massive scale. They will run shorter flights, demand more flexibility and more optimization, just like digital. 

Back-office automation. This will be the biggest change for the video ad world as the daisy chains of phone calls, faxes and emails among dozens of folks for each campaign are replaced with dashboards, APIs and end-to-end automation, just like digital. 

Audience-based targeting. Deep, granular audience targeting will become table stakes for all campaigns, as sex/age demo targeting alone goes away (finally) and all campaigns include secondary promises of first-party targets, performance, attribution and purchase-based results.

Full transparency. Trust has been eroded in many parts of the digital ad world, so handling those concerns will impact an integrated video ad world too. Full transparency will be required on everything from the validity of audiences, sources of inventory, proof of delivery, algorithmic bases of analytics and attribution and economics among all related parties (media and data suppliers, partners, service provider, technology, measurement, verification, etc).

What do you think? Can 40 years of pent-up demand for more clarity and efficiency wash over the TV and video ad ecosystem in the next four quarters?

3 comments about "Four Decades of Pent-Up Need For Changes Will Upend TV Ad World".
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  1. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, March 19, 2020 at 4:18 p.m.

    Dave, of course TV/video consumption will increase dramatically during the epidemic---then plummet back to normal levels as soon as everyone gets back to their workplace jobs and can partake of various forms of out-of-home entertainment, socializing, sports attendence, etc. The transition back to "normal" may be a somewhat prolonged one, however, due to the dirsupted ecomony and the fact that many employers will realize that they don't need all of those that they let go---a typical determination immediately following great recessions. Some media will also suffer the after effects as well due to the same realiziation---that they mey not have been all that effective in normal times and can be used more sparingly than before---this is what seemed to happen to magazines the last go around in 2009.

    As far as advertisers demanding better targeting methods, media sellers  promising outcomes ( sales? ), etc. etc. I doubt that this will happen to a significant degree---despite what the CMOs say in their chicken luncheon circut speeches and what the "experts" tout as  impending "sea changes" and upheavals in the offing at innumerable gatherings, "conferences", etc.. That kind of talk is what one can expect in difficult times---we've heard it many times before----but until the agency clients---the real clients, namely the advertiser CMOs---- get all-in involved in media and start to investigate alternatives to how they now plan and buy media, little will change. Yes, some will try and they may even succeed---to a point--- but that's about it. I wish it wasn't so---but I'm just being realistic in my vision of the short term future of media.

  2. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, March 20, 2020 at 10:33 a.m.

    As a follow up to my earlier comments, there now seems to be a distinct possibility that the annual national TV upfront time sale will shift to the fall with an effective calendar year time table. Or, this may be a one time short upfront which involves only three quarters on the assumption that the following year will see a return to the usual timing---a May-June sale covering the fourth quarter of the same year and the next three quarters. The main reason for the change will be the ability--or inability ---of the TV producers to crank out the required numbers of new primetime episodes for the fourth quarter---though this should not be a great problem for the great mass of TV's early AM, daytime and fringe evening content.

    Which raises some interesting possibilities if advertisers are seriously concerned about reconfiguring the upfronts so they make more marketing as well as TV programming sense. The issue at hand is whether we should go to a two- upfront system---one for the corporate low CPM buyers; the other for individual brands who are willing to pay higher CPMs for buys tailored specifically for their interests. Unfortunately, I'm not optimistic about movement in this area due to the lack of interest by brand management in " media stuff" ,as I outlined earlier. In which case it will be mainly up to the time buyers and sellers to work things out for mutual convenience. Result: another lost opportunity.

  3. Tony Jarvis from Olympic Media Consultancy, March 21, 2020 at 5:56 p.m.

    Sorry Dave but I believe Ed is spot on. 
    Of particular note, I suggest the media will not and indeed should not take take responsibility for campaign or brand performance but should provide advertisers target audience (beyond age/sex) exposure or "contact data" (versus some nebulous definition of impressions!).  Without ad exposure there can be no media effect.  When are "we" going to embrace that simple construct across all media measurement?  As we all understand, there are just too many critical variables involved in driving campaign effects in addition to the media component especially creative and often the context in which creative is presented.  

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