A United TV Advertising Front, and How to Start It

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Cover image for  article: A United TV Advertising Front, and How to Start It

In unity there is strength, so the saying goes. If there's a time to unify the many branches of advertising supported television into a force holding its own with digital and other competition, it's now. If not now, perhaps never.

How to bring that ideal environment now, and have it flourish from now on, was the lead topic of Jack Myers' latest Leadership Conversation, taking place last week. On hand for answers: Kevin Arrix, senior vice president of Dish Media Sales; Jamie Power, chief operating officer of advanced TV for Cadent; Marcien Jenckes, president of Comcast Advertising, and veteran advertising expert/MediaVillage columnist Bill Harvey. Jack Myers, founder of this Web outpost, moderated the virtual discussion. Watch the conversation here..

Everyone agrees that unification is critical for TV to get its fair share of advertising income, whether the dollars go to broadcast, cable and multicast networks, local TV stations and station groups, multichannel operators, smart TV sets and TV-connected devices, and the surging collection of new programming ventures using these sets and devices as their primary or exclusive distribution path to viewers.

"As TV comes together, TV as a platform shows its relative strength, and when we are not working together, we're making ourselves hard to buy and we aren't helping each other out from a capability standpoint," Jenckes said. "It's real easy for digital to take share."

Power offered a blunter evaluation of the current TV sales climate. "We have time to get our ducks in a row, figure out and get our shit together. This is the right storm for advertisers and agencies to bring in a new data competency…Everybody's ready, so it's time for us to just go and stop talking about it."

Advertisers and agencies alike, due to the coronavirus pandemic, will make up their minds over the next few months about how much of their 2020-21 season spending will kick in with TV, and how much will go elsewhere. Many of the top digital and smart TV service players will make their pitch for dollars next week through a five-day stretch of virtual NewFront presentations. Roku, multichannel packager Tubi and Samsung's smart set ad sales unit are among the first-time participants.

In recent weeks, smart TV set/device U.S. household penetration has topped 80 percent, according to several research studies. Those households continue to watch billions of hours of content, applications and games through these products each month. Mega-programming venture Peacock (owned by Comcast unit NBC Universal) is advertiser-supported, while WarnerMedia-run HBO Max will introduce an ad format early 2021.

Whatever formula the TV industry comes up with to unite, maximum addressability must be paramount, Harvey surmised. By maximum, opportunities to place addressable ads on networks and TV stations can happen in any daypart, not just the two minutes per hour cable networks give to their affiliates.

"What do you do when you have smart TVs and you don't need a set-top box in order to cover a network, like CBS, for commercials in a local household?" Harvey proposed. "They're a deal away from being able to get CBS and all the big broadcast and cable networks to be addressing, which will change everything. That's where it's going."

That formula must have several variables—a united value proposition every branch of the TV medium can get behind, programmatic, addressable and interactive technologies working in harmony with each other, and far better audience data and measurement benchmarks.

In Arrix's thinking, TV advertising players also must be willing to flex their practices in favor of what sponsors, agencies and media buyers want most. "A key to the future is all about interoperability, and the technology is getting better," he continued. "We have to band together. We have to lock arms, or we're getting our lunch eaten by Facebook and Google." (NOTE: Both companies will make NewFront presentations next week, with Google focusing on YouTube, increasingly seen through smart TV sets and gadgets.)

With more than half of TV viewers anticipated to watch non-linear content for the first time this upcoming season, unification must be at hand, concluded Power. "Data is the only thing that's going to win in this marketplace. We need to make sure an advertiser can start to holistically understand reach and frequency across all these different screens," she said.

Also read:

Is It Now or Never For Advanced TV? Collaboration Will Tell Usby Charlene Weisler

Will 2020 Be the Breakout Year for Addressable TV? by Bill Harvey

Media Experts Agree, 2020 Is a Decisive Year for Advanced TV by Nathan Holman

Addressable TV: On the Cusp of Going National Scale by Jeff Minsky

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The opinions expressed here are the author's views and do not necessarily represent the views of MediaVillage.com/MyersBizNet.

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