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TV of the future: Embracing the shift to streaming

On February 24, 2021, Campaign US held its inaugural Tech Talks event (virtually), focusing on the intersection of martech, marketing, media and advertising. Industry experts in the media buying and sales world gathered to discuss how organizations are changing their approach to the TV marketplace with the ascendance of streaming and evolution of cross-platform measurement. 

Kicking things off was “TV of the Future: Embracing the Shift to Streaming,” moderated by Alison Weissbrot, editor, Campaign US, and sponsored by Cadent. The panel included Hayley Diamond, EVP, digital investment and partnerships, Publicis Media; Ryan Gould, SVP of sales and client partnerships, WarnerMedia; and Jamie Power, chief data officer and COO, Advanced TV, Cadent.

“I think the name of the game is change,” said Diamond, setting the stage for a look at how the rise of streaming has impacted buying and sales strategies and changed the structure of investment and sales teams. “It’s about maintaining really clear marketplace intelligence and awareness of shifting dynamics so that we can better support our clients. Addressability overall is evolving, so staying focused on data, streaming advancements and what's happening with subscriptions, then looking at holistic measurement and attribution based on what each, individual consumer needs.”

On the sell side at Warner Media, the dynamics of team set-up and market approach has definitely changed, noted Gould. “We’re really leaning into the premium nature of our inventory within connected TV environments not only in regards to content, but user experience,” he said. “By merging the Xandr media teams with the WarnerMedia ad sales team, we’ve been able to offer a consolidated approach that not only offers the best from a content and user perspective, but layering in first party precision driven addressable opportunities as well.”

And as someone who works with both the buy- and sell-sides as a tech provider, Power envisions a necessary re-thinking of the way television is bought, sold, traded and measured across all screens. “We can’t take old technology that worked for traditional programmatic digital, put it into TV and expect it’s going to work,” she said. “A new tech stack has to be created to support a new ecosystem of accelerated fragmentation.” 

An agreed pain point in the industry, fragmentation, as Weissbrot mentioned, is helped by technology, but with so many different technology providers out there to choose from, how do you know what’s best?  

“As we become more sophisticated at understanding a client’s first-party data and as we’re working with the marketplace to understand what that data exchange passback looks like in order to better optimize and measure, we’re getting really grounded in,” said Diamond. “We’ve spent a lot of time talking about a brilliant future, that’s really valuable. But we also have to stay focused on what can we do for our clients today. From a planning perspective through to activation, we have to show our clients that there’s value in moving out of traditional linear, even without having a perfect measurement tool in place.”

When it came to understanding how Cadent values different types of inventory when they’re buying or selling in an audience-based way, Power brings it down to KPI. “If you’re trying to drive penetration, or bring in new customers, you pull different levers,” she said. “That means collecting the data and figuring out what works specifically for the brand. Ultimately, you have to understand how impressions are working across screens — if they’re driving reach and frequency and then based on the KPI, knowing how it’s performing.”

“Measurement certainly isn’t perfect,” added Gould. “But I think there’s some promising work happening across the industry. Not all connected TV impressions are created equal and while ours tend to be more valuable, we need to own proof of that. Which is part of why we’re doing things from a first-party perspective — whether that’s aligning on business outcomes or signing up for the effectiveness of a certain campaign that are driving these brand specific conversations.”

The conversation continued, touching on the imperative of data privacy, precision targeting and a whole new theme of accountability at the upcoming Upfronts. The take-away: that when it comes to embracing the shift to streaming, there isn’t a silver bullet; rather, different solutions based on a client’s tech stack. And, as Power said in closing, “It’s important, as new tools are entering the market, to build privacy into them; there is an opportunity to rethink the way the programmatic ecosystem was constructed.”

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