08/24/21: Cynopsis Special Report: Transforming the Media Marketplace


Cynopsis Medias First Morning Read
Tuesday August 24, 2021

Evolving the Media Advertising Ecosystem: The Time is Now
Cathy Applefeld Olson

The media marketplace is complicated, and it’s only getting more so as the industry embraces the strongest ad market on recent record. Broadcast, network, MVPD, radio and digital companies need the most state-of-the-art tools to help them sell smarter and faster than ever before.

A dive into the just-concluded 2021 Upfront reveals a shift away from the once-dominant primetime programming block, a fervent embrace of ad-supported streaming services and a continued bend toward digital and OTT/streaming—where traditional media distributors are still the new kids on the block.

When the tallies are in, advertisers will spend close to $20 billion upfront in the 2021-22 linear television season, an increase of 7.6 percent over the previous cycle, according to eMarketer. At the same time, the digital video ad spending continues to accelerate at double-digit rates, according to the research firm, which predicts upfront video ad dollars earmarked for connected TV will increase by almost 50 percent.

Matrix has been enabling businesses across the media spectrum to centralize workflow data, streamline ad sales processes and recognize new revenue since 1992. Now, as more dollars pour into the ecosystem, Matrix is evolving its flagship CRM and sales intelligence platform Monarch to maximize efficiency and help clients ingest a greater swath of incoming demands from agencies and buyers.

Matrix’s ability to bridge that marketplace gap is what CEO Mark Gorman views as mission critical for account executives, managers and the C-suite both at current clients including Cox Media, Nexstar, TEGNA, E.W. Scripps and Univision, and those to come.

“At the end of the day, it is not about these businesses using our technology solutions; it is about helping them to realize and monetize their advertising inventory,” Gorman says. “Our technology framework, consisting of an open API infrastructure, serves as the end-to-end backbone of the entire advertising sales workflow helping automate sales processes and deliver key business intelligence needed to be competitive in today’s marketplace. Whether it’s linear, impressions-based linear, spot linear, digital, OTT or podcasting, our solutions operating within that framework connect disparate data sources throughout the advertising ecosystem to give our clients a unified view into their inventory and analytics.”


The time to move forward, Gorman says, is now. It’s a conclusion drawn both from data analysis and ongoing conversations the Matrix team regularly facilitates among media thought leaders that position it at the nexus of broader industry evolution.

Among them, Matrix recently launched the Media Ad Sales Council (MASC), an advocacy group that comprises executives from across the media landscape and representing unique market verticals who are committed to helping deliver more automation and reducing the friction between the buy and sell sides of media advertising. Matrix also hosts the annual Media Ad Sales Summit, which gathers executives to share insights about ways the industry can move the needle in the buy-sell ecosystem. To help elevate industry excellence year-round, Matrix last year launched the monthly online “Candid Conversation” series.

“There is much more of a drive from the traditional media industry that we really need to get our act together and start thinking about how we become more competitive in the media space,” Gorman says. “We need to understand that for each broadcaster, your biggest competitor is not the broadcaster next door. Your biggest competitor is Google, Facebook and Amazon. These three organizations account for over half of the ad revenue in this country.”

Indeed, according to an analysis by ad agency GroupM, the trio of tech giants tipped the scale in 2020 and collected the majority of US ad sales dollars—51 percent—for the first time. The shift is attributed both to the continued migration of large businesses embracing digital marketing, and a surge of small businesses increasing their spend to boost ecommerce.

Gorman believes advertisers aren’t necessarily taking their wallets to Google because they’re getting better outcomes for their dollar. “They’re going there because it’s easier,” he says. “We have to make the process easier to buy, and we need to provide easy to understand, easy to digest metrics that are simple to capture.”

The new Matrix Sales Gateway is a dedicated platform built with TIP-compliant APIs designed specifically for the ingestion and dissemination of data from all providers that are part of the sales negotiation and execution process.


Automating Sales, Enhancing Revenue Prediction

Centrifugally positioned in the media ad sales workflow, Monarch aggregates and normalizes first- and third-party data across multiple platforms. As such, Gorman likens Monarch to a spine that holds together and supports all sales functions, while the Matrix Sales Gateway will significantly extend those functions across the entire advertising ecosystem; from proposal, to fulfillment, through execution and evaluation; bringing more automation to the workflow and bridging the gap between the buy and sell sides.

COO Julie Kapsch sums up Matrix’s secret sauce this way: “Being able to pull accurate data out and present it in a unified way that makes sense for all users, give them visibility into how their business is doing and also just ensure people are talking apples to apples across all the different outlets and divisions is a huge advantage,” she says.

“There are a lot more cross-division workflows going on, and certainly at an executive or management level they want to see the data regardless of what platforms they’re on,” Kapsch adds. “It’s one thing to have all the data in one spot and another thing to give them alerts about the data and trends, adding a layer of intelligence that can help them think about their customers and the opportunities they have in different ways.”

Monarch’s ability to integrate an expanse of cross-division reporting enticed Gray Television to enter the Matrix. “Any time you can not do the multiplicity across each market, any time you can save steps from doing it in 94 of our markets and instead do it all once is a win,” says Becky Meyer, SVP of national sales at Gray Television.

“We’ve got a bunch of different stations putting things under different codes, and Monarch consolidates them in a very easy-to-bite-off format so we can quickly look at where that spending is coming from, and what does it look like if I want to slice it or dice it by the month or look at certain stations,” Meyer adds.


The Weather Group is slated to launch Monarch in Q4 across its syndicated television shows, Weather Channel cable network divisions and seven Entertainment Studios cable networks.

Monarch “will allow our sellers more transparency on their performance, it will give upper management a clear view of how we’re pacing and it will also give us analytical tools to really understand our business by account,” says Barbara Bekkedahl, president of Weather Group ad sales & client partnerships. “We are trying to bring more visibility and automation to ad sales reporting and analytics.”

Bekkedahl says the company had been mired in spreadsheets across and within its various verticals. “We have all sorts of information that we get from the systems that book our inventory, that do our plans, that house all of our data as far as CPMs and historical revenue. But it’s cumbersome for us to get access to how that information can be reported in a very automated way,” she explains. Monarch is “providing this interface and link between our data and our users, and our various user bases.”

Its ability to elevate a media company’s advertising business rests as much in the Monarch formula as it does in the intuitiveness of the product.

“We know this data isn’t easily coming out of the multiple systems people use, which are still very mainframe-based and legacy, and so we made the jump to new technology to modernize the workflow and give users more sophisticated toolsets all while providing a better experience,” says Gregg Owens, Matrix VP of software development.

Additionally, the Monarch platform can be customized to meet specific needs across the media landscape. “Everything we do is flavored with, How will it present itself to our customers in such a way as to make them more successful,” Owens says. “It all boils down to an open infrastructure with key integration points—whether you’re a salesperson, a sales manager, or an executive—what data sets will enhance your ability to make better and faster business decisions.”

“It’s about aggregating all sellable inventory, bringing it to the surface and providing optimization,” Owens adds.

“Knowing the traditional media landscape is rapidly shapeshifting, positioning Broadcast, network, MVPD, radio and digital companies against tech giants Google, Facebook and Amazon, the time is now,” Gorman says. “We as an industry must work together to both advance and accelerate the advertising ecosystem evolution that has been set into motion.”

Cynopsis Team

Lynn Leahey
Editorial Director

Kerry Smith
Division President
Access Intelligence

Roberta Caploe

Executive Director of Sales
Albert Nassour
Cynopsis Job Listings Sales
John Cox


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