Cadent Forwards the Connected TV Conversation

By Upfronts/NewFronts Archives
Cover image for  article: Cadent Forwards the Connected TV Conversation

One of the more engaging and free-wheeling annual Upfront events came back on the scene last Wednesday in virtual form. Cadent, the advertising sales organization evolving from national spot buys on local broadcast network and cable commercial pods to advanced or addressable multi-platform campaigns incorporating smart TV sets and devices, crafted this presentation. Just like the company's in-person breakfasts prior to the coronavirus pandemic, the emphasis was on panel discussions covering the emerging Upfront ad scene.

The Big Message: Television ad sales have reached an inflection point. The days of advertisers and agencies resigned to paying more for fewer eyeballs watching linear TV appear to be over. Programming services primarily or exclusively distributed through smart TV products -- as well as companies making those smart products, from Samsung to Roku --will benefit from a big exodus of dollars from broadcast and cable channel inventory. "We'll see rates of change that will be historically high," observed Cadent chief revenue officer Jim Tricarico. "Things usually change slowly in the linear TV marketplace. Not anymore." Whatever route the ad community takes from here, Cadent will further evolve to meet the community's needs.

Hosts:Tricarico, joined by Cadent chief executive officer Nick Troiano, and MediaVillage founder/chairman Jack Myers, who moderated the panel sessions. Tricarico and Troiano served as presentation bookends, with Tricarico delivering opening remarks and Troiano offering closing thoughts.

What Worked:Two panels that managed to pack a variety of topics in a short amount of time (25-30 minutes). You came away from each panel clear about what the ad agencies and media buyers want as they prep their Upfront sales positions. In the first panel, there was an unequivocal consensus to move away from reach metrics to performance metrics and to take chances with new content and format opportunities. Speakers on the second panel were united on quick adoption of campaigns for ad-supported mega-content services. "You have to go in with a blended approach," noted Amie Smith, executive media director at TCA. "We have to navigate the streaming landscape based on customer behavior. People want to support ad-supported streaming."

What Also Worked: Spending a considerable portion of the second panel on the effort (or lack thereof) to spend more on African American-owned TV channels, Spanish-language networks and other services geared to or managed by people of color. "We have to focus on minority media consumption habits and having more inclusion plans," affirmed Cathy Shaffner, Empower's chief investment officer. "This will be a big focus as we place media dollars for our clients." Mediahub global chief investment officer Carrie Drinkwater seconded Shaffner's thoughts. "We need to reflect what the country looks like. How do you make sure you're reflecting new generations of consumers?" she asked.

What Didn't Work:The fireside chat segment with Inna Kern, ESPN's vice president of media strategy and planning. Given ESPN's recent National Football League and National Hockey League deals, ongoing growth at ESPN+ and the emergence of new opportunities from eSports to live wagering, Kern had the platform (and an engaging attitude) to address those subjects. Instead, the interview centered around how ESPN dealt with the extended absence of live sports coverage last year due to the pandemic.

Data Points: Twenty-five percent of all TV viewing is with Netflix, Hulu and other streaming services, according to a study brought up by Smith.

News: Look for Cadent to announce some developments in data research and multi-platform campaign creation in the weeks ahead, according to both Tricarico and Troiano.

Parting Words: "The marketplace is increasingly complex in a world of fragmentation. Our priority [is to] find new areas of opportunity for supply… new and different platforms that drive growth for brands [and] go beyond broad reach." -- Maureen Bosetti, Initiative chief investment officer

"Consumers are dictating and taking control. Consumers want great content." -- Mike Law, Amplify USA president

"It's about creating opportunities to create new storytellers … Everyone is trying to pivot … beyond spending more for less. Let's focus more on effectiveness of impressions. We're all looking for the best piece of value." -- Gibbs Haijun, total investment lead at GroupM's Mindshare unit

"We have to challenge ourselves this year." -- Michael O'Connor, Horizon Media's executive vice president and managing director of video investment

"When 40 percent of media dollars are not working, you have to be smart in how you spend -- and how you target." -- Mark Zamuner, TWO NIL Holdings' chief executive officer

"The media landscape is changing rapidly. It's fundamental we provide more complimentary solutions. This will tower over what we do." -- Cadent chief executive officer Nick Troiano

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