Fresh off the show floor at NAB Show in Las Vegas, I was struck by three very clear trends:
- Broadcasters are keen to understand what they need to do to adopt ATSC 3.0, the IP-based over-the-air (OTA) TV broadcast standard that combines broadcasting and broadband internet,
- Many are working to reorient workflows to support 'Advanced Advertising' and cross-screen measurement, and
- Cross-screen multi-touch attribution is now a 'must-have' for the sell-side to merchandise their unique value to buyers.
Meanwhile back in New York, the annual TV Upfronts and Digital Video Newfronts are in full swing. My only hope is that we're not going another year planning our Marketing efforts in separate linear vs. digital siloes.
In a column I wrote last year, I asked how suited the NewFronts are to our fragmented media landscape. I argued that, unlike when the NewFronts began, creators and influencers now attract major audiences on social platforms with virtually no production budgets. They also release content daily, challenging the importance of highly produced content that is carefully metered-out during a specific season. This year, it is clear that the market is moving to a more integrated approach across content types, that also has to do with a continually consolidating media market. (And yes, the M&A market remains red hot.)
As Jim Nail of Forrester found in his research with the ANA, 50 percent of Marketers are either already buying Advanced TV or experimenting with it this year. In our own 1st Annual TV & Video Advertising Survey, conducted with Industry Index, 46 percent of media buyers said they will execute cross-screen campaigns that include Linear TV, VOD, OTT, and digital video inventory in 2018, and 66 percent said they will increase spending on such efforts. Seventy-four percent cited accuracy in planning and execution across both channels as the key drivers.
Fast forward to April 2018, we're seeing consumer attention and high quality episodic content continuing to migrate to OTT, AVOD, skinny bundles and even short-form mobile video -- a combined $86 billion opportunity in the US. The corresponding viewership needs to be seen as part of the upfront process, and the investment needs to be planned, executed and measured in a holistic fashion.
Future Fronts: From inefficient bifurcation to holistic unification
The time is right to introduce a new concept to our industry: Future Fronts. Future Fronts is the manifestation of years of work from many industry players committed to unifying TV and video advertising. We're moving steadily from inefficient bifurcation to holistic unification, ultimately delivering deduplicated reach and frequency across all campaigns. Breaking out of legacy siloes will benefit all parties while creating new liquidity:
- Advertisers get more efficient reach, are able to leverage their sizable investments in martech, and suffer less waste and achieve better results;
- Agencies will easily apply the new data stacks being developed, and automate several manual steps in the research, investment planning, and scatter processes.
- TV programmers, video publishers and MVPDs get increased yield, see a normalization of pricing across their properties and platforms, and more efficiently monetize new formats.
- Consumers get more relevant (and fewer redundant) commercial messages across all screens.
The 'Future Fronts' approach to linear TV and digital video brings a people-centric, data-driven and efficient 'digital' mindset to the premium quality and massive scale of upfront TV. The market is rapidly shifting to unite these screens and make audience-based buying a meaningful part of the upfront process. This also makes the ability to bring in new types of cross screen measurement and attribution to these transactions much more urgent.
The holistic planning and buying of linear TV and digital video requires a cross-screen, audience-driven and forward-looking approach. Achieving that ideal state requires a radical reimagination of the audience data resources and methodologies, as well as the currencies by which we plan, buy and measure media (GRP, CPM, etc.). This requires a complete reinvention of today's workflows alongside integration with existing systems such as Mediaocean, FreeWheel, Operative, and others.
After our first time participating in the NAB Show, speaking with more than 40 broadcasters, advertisers, data and technology partners, we could not be more excited. The converged future is now.