A Changed World Means The Ad Industry Must Also Change How Video Is Bought And Sold

The reinvention of audience behavior accelerated by COVID-19 means the TV industry must not simply restart, but reset.

What's wrong with TV? Nothing. It has become our perfect pandemic partner. 

We've gorged on "The Mandalorian" in two Disney+ sittings, surfed old horror films on Pluto TV, binged on "The Outsider" on HBO, talked about Netflix's "Tiger King" on every Zoom call, and have Amazon Prime queues and Roku channel lists that'll keep us glued to our Samsung Smart TVs at least through November.

TV couldn't be better. It's our television industry that needs to adapt.

Why change now? Because the future of video has already begun

The television industry's new generation of leaders universally admit it's not working anymore. Advertising doesn't work. Profits, especially in pay TV, are harder to sustain.



The COVID-19 crisis has only accelerated those trends. Even as consumers spend more time in front of screens, it's harder than ever for advertisers, studios, stations, and networks to make money. Even as we begin to emerge from the crisis, big national TV buys don't make sense. America will go back to work state by state and region by region, with sudden stops and starts.

To succeed, we need to not just restart but to re-imagine the industry -- to fix things about buying video that have been broken for a long time.

Buyers want to buy. They love everything video has to offer. The power of sight, sound, and motion. The ability to reach huge audiences and narrow ones. The ability to drive real outcomes.

But buyers are sick of the maddening tangle of complex technologies, contradictory measurement structures, and dense legal documents that come with it.

Since the industry already has thrilled customers with the new plethora of programming, the obvious next step is to make buyers every bit as happy.

What we need to do differently -- and do together

But hasn't the industry done all this before? Yes. Too many times. But whether we've gathered as television competitors or as cross-industry colleagues, the industry has always followed the same naive, doomed pattern.

Big, hairy audacious goals that instantly crash into roadblocks at entrenched positions.

As it turns out, transforming a hugely successful $70-billion-dollar industry overnight is harder than it looks. Who knew?

It's clear that nothing will happen unless we first agree on basic principles, and bite off LESS than we can chew. Here are the principles we suggest:

  1. Advertisers and publishers need flexibility.   Bringing digital-style adaptability to cross-platform media buys is now a must-have.
  2. The consumer experience must be factored into how major industry participants do business with each other.  Publishers, platforms, agencies, and brands must agree on standards for a positive consumer experience – including things like advertising load, ad-to-edit ratio, dynamic ad insertion, personalization, and versioning.
  3. The selling “season” must be replaced with year-round transaction optimization.  The new normal should be continuous “Upfronts in the Cloud” that benefit all participants.
  4. Tech and terminology must be standardized – together. Without standards, sensible automation is impossible. A cross-industry reset of video buyer-seller relationships is needed -- especially for marketers who need to be ready as 5G penetration grows.
  5. The industry must agree on a universal, standard definition of an advertising impression.  Let's agree on the definition, settle on the technical standards and applications that will allow for counterparties to transact business with stability and predictability, and move forward.
  6. Metrics must be harmonized.  There has never been a perfect sampling methodology, and there never will be. Let's find agreement, and move on.
  7. All these agreements should become one set of easy-to-follow, cross-industry terms and conditions.  We are long past due for a happy medium between a handshake and a 30-page Ts&Cs.

What's next?

Change isn't easy in any industry this large. 

But there is a proven way to do it, in a way that minimizes disruption, builds confidence, and sets the stage for long-term success. OpenAP, GARM, and DAA are all examples of the industry getting the change process right.

We are calling on the entire industry to join us at, to help set the next stage of the video industry's success.

TV has been fantastic for viewers during the pandemic.

Let's make it every bit as good for buyers -- and sellers -- as we emerge from it.

3 comments about "A Changed World Means The Ad Industry Must Also Change How Video Is Bought And Sold".
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  1. Dale Knoop from TRE, May 8, 2020 at 10:06 a.m.

    I think Point #3 is the greatest opportunity for change. My theory (among other drivers) is this-the pandemic will result in a growth in the desire in the consumer mind for more instant gratification. So much has been delayed/postponed/abondoned due to stay at home orders. Deliver micro-moment instant commerce opportunities in the leah back world and you'll be greatly rewarded by the consumer. Forget 800 numbers and searching on Amazon. The time is here for real performance ad units to deliver sales, not folks to the"top of the funnel".

  2. Dan Ciccone from STACKED Entertainment, May 11, 2020 at 10:47 a.m.

    Respectfully, none of these mean anything as long as there are 6 minute commercial pods that the industry forced on us many years ago.  My 78 year old parents stopped watching linear TV years ago.  If you can't keep the attention of a 75 year old, you're definitely not going to keep the attention of a coveted 18-34 year old.

    Outside of live sports and news, COVID 19 likely put the final nail in linear TV's coffin and network execs only have themselves to blame.

  3. Dan Ciccone from STACKED Entertainment, May 11, 2020 at 10:49 a.m.

    Can't modify my comment, but was strictly speaking about linear and should  have been more clear ;)

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