09/24/21: Your Big TV Conference Recap

 

A CYNOPSIS MESSAGE FROM GAMUT
 


Cynopsis Medias First Morning Read

 

Friday September 24, 2021

Your Big TV Conference Recap

Cathy Applefeld Olson

The 2021 Cynopsis That Big TV Conference is in the books, and our virtual audience of agency, programming, tech and brand executives took in three packed days of fresh thinking, actionable learnings and new tools to manifest success in the radically evolving media ecosystem.

Sponsored by a4 Advertising, Cross Screen Media, EDO, Future Today, Gamut Total, Nielsen, New York Interconnect, Premion, Simulmedia, Sinclair Media Networks, Spectrum Reach, TiVo, VAB and Vevo, Big TV dove deep into the challenges and, more importantly, the opportunities inherent in today’s—and tomorrow’s—industry landscape.

It was a lot to ingest, so we’ve got you covered with our event recap featuring key takeaways straight from our speakers. Grab your beverage of choice, get comfortable, and read on:

A CYNOPSIS MESSAGE FROM GAMUT
TUESDAY

Smart Strategies for Getting – and Keeping – Streaming Subscribers
Discovery’s Michael Bishara, group SVP & GM, direct to consumer and lifestyle digital studios, moderated a panel that agreed content is still king, but attracting consumers and minimizing is harder than ever in a massively fragmented streaming ecosystem where it’s necessary to be seen on all platforms.
The scrolling doom suck: The average streaming subscriber spends 20 minutes looking for streaming content, reported Courtney Thomasma, GM, AMC+, who reminded the audience, “It’s not an arms race” and that programmers should “present content in a way that viewers don’t feel overwhelmed by choice.”
Passion play: The novelty of convenience accelerated streaming growth, but looking ahead, “on the streaming side, at AMC Nets is we’ll be moving from a key value prop of convenience and volume to relevance and passion. It will be more important for users to find content that matters to them then just finding lots of content,” said Thomasma. Pluto is identifying both broad shows and franchise and niche content, noted Will Gurman, VP, global content partnerships, Pluto TV. “For every channel we have, we want people to say, ‘That’s my favorite channel’ and be evangelists for the content as well as the platform.”
Appointment television is back: “We’re organically starting to see communal viewing of our fans’ favorite franchises” through watch parties and fan communities and forums. It’s bringing back the feeling of can’t-miss event television,” Thomasma said, noting a rebundling is also on the horizon as AVOD continues to grow.

Take Control of Television’s Transformation With The Personalization of Linear TV Data
TiVo’s Q2 2021 data revealed a 27 percent increase in the number of subscription services users are acquiring over Q4 2020, “a rate that’s double what we’ve seen in the last five years,” said Fariba Zamaniyan, VP, data and monetization sales, TiVo, who was joined by David Finkelstein, CEO of BEDX. “And we’re seeing not just the increase in SVOD, but adoption of ad-supported video services.” A full 81 percent of respondents expressed a desire to use free ad-supported services. Mobile and tablet usage continues to grow, though access to video content is still predominantly through pay TV services or linear TV. The average consumer is viewing four-plus hours a day on their linear or pay TV devices.

Case Study: A+E Networks and KFC Play a Winning Game of Chicken
Mario Lopez playing Colonel Sanders in a Lifetime mini-movie, “Recipe for Seduction,” served as branded content for Kentucky Fried Chicken and was a recipe for success for both KFC and the network.
Ads that don’t look like ads: “Gen Z doesn’t want ads that look like ads. This is about the future of advertising—branded partnerships that aren’t hitting you over the head with something. We saw a lot of conversation online that said, ‘I just intentionally watched a 15-minute ad and I’m not mad about it,’” said Megan Russell, management supervisor, W+K Portland.
Social strategies: The movie was accompanied by bite-sized nuggets that could live on social channels. “In order to have the movie work, we had to surround it with a communications plan that then does the harder job of selling chicken and getting people into restaurants,” said Alex Barwick, group media director, W+K Portland. “There are fewer places for us to reach a younger audience in a mass way. The movie was just the starting point.” Knowing Twitter was going to be its bread and butter, “we created GIFs from the movie and shared there, and saw tons of conversations take off,” Russell said.
Partnering up: Uber Eats came in as a last-minute partner, with a coupon offer that helped KFC track movie-related sales, said David DeSocio, EVP, ad sales marketing and partnerships, A+E Networks. “It was an important element to make sure we stayed connected to the food.”

Fireside Chat: GAMUT. The Leader in Local OTT
The local ad spend is expected to increase another 30 percent year over year, said Jen Russell, Gamut VP, head of sales East, filling in gaps in underserved pockets of the country—and OTT is the best complementary strategy to the linear TV ad buy. “The unification we bring in local OTT and our ability to provide clients with access—that’s where we find our value prop,” she noted.
OK Boomer: OTT isn’t just for millennials and Gen Zers. Audience is growing across all demos, including 55-plus, the demo with the biggest recent uptick, 29 percent year over year, said Tiffany Ihle, Gamut’s director, consumer insights. “OTT is becoming more mainstream and has the ability to reach consumers with purchase power,” she said. “Customization is key.”
Closing the ad level gap: When it comes to expanding ad buys, “the incremental numbers we are able to demonstrate—store visitation and web site conversion—this type of measurement is gong to help close that gap between the content conception and the ad levels,” said Traci Will, Gamut VP, analytics. “While I can’t predict a number, the trajectory in the next few yeas us going to far outpace the last few years.”
Changing landscape: Cable operators are losing close to 1.4 million household subscribers quarterly, noted Ihle. “And projections indicate there will be more non-pay TV homes than paid by 2024.” Those homes likely will turn into exclusive streamers, she said.

Fireside Chat with Kelly Day on ViacomCBS’ Global Streaming Plans
Why partner up? Joint ventures are a “way for us to continue to expand while sharing some of the cost and some of the investment,” said Kelly Day, president, streaming, & COO, ViacomCBS. Day shared insights about jv Sky Showtime, which will roll out to 22 European markets in 2022, and Paramount+ launches in the UK, Italy and Germany. For the Paramount+ expansion, ViacomCBS is partnering with Sky and its Sky Cinema premium service. “It’s important to make sure we go into those markets with an incredibly strong content offering and great distribution. We’re partnering with Sky to not only bring Paramount+ as a direct to consumer offering, but also a bundle with Sky Cinema,” she said.

Best Practices in AdTech: 2021-2022
Legacy brands are hanging strong, and increasingly new brands are flocking to television for full-funnel activations—with an increased expectation that TV can deliver ROI in the same way they’d measure on a social platform.
Buy once, deliver everywhere: In this accelerated environment, advertisers want the opportunity to “buy once and deliver everywhere across our ecosystem. Increasingly they see any end point—whether it’s linear or digital or streaming—as TV, and to be able to plan and forecast that way and deliver across platforms in a unified way is increasingly important,” said Jeremy Helfand, SVP, advertising platforms, Disney. “And not just for planning, but for measurement and return on investment.”
Managing the marketplace: “Managing against reach and frequency is what our brands are really concerned with. The complexities we as media companies distributing content—we can’t pass them on to the consumer and we can’t pass them on to our brands and partners. We as an industry have to figure out how to balance that,” said Evan Giamanco, SVP, sales strategy & ad product, WarnerMedia.
Open market vs. walled gardens: “We’ve been very transparent with buyers about where they are buying in Fox inventory, and we encourage brands to bring their own data,” said Darren Sherriff, VP, advertising technology solutions, Fox Corp. “Who knows better about in-market audiences than them?”

CTV/AVOD: The Benefits of Working Directly with Publishers
Not just a genre-based buy: “You want to get as close to the content as you can. That is imperative with all the fraud going on, and brand safety. We are the front line with the content,” said Jennifer D’Alessandro, head of sales, Future Today. “I know exactly where you’re running, I can help you create campaigns that make sense for your clients and we can report back on that with transparency.”
Numbers game: 90 percent of Future Today’s Happy Kids offering users are seldom watching linear TV. “If you want to reach all the TV households, you can’t do it anymore with pay TV alone. You have to have an OTT streaming complement,” observed Vikrant Mathur, co-founder, Future Today. “Viewers have been frustrated having to pay for channels they don’t watch. They want a better price point and they want choice.”

Lost and Found: Optimizing Platforms for Content Discovery
The expansion of the video landscape has landed the industry face to face with a few trends regarding content discovery. A discussion led by Alex Akers, manager, consulting, KlarisIP, found:
Analysis paralysis: “It wasn’t long ago when platforms were boasting about how much content they have. Now, that’s a big part of the problem,” said Greg Diefenbach, managing director, MagellanTV. “The decision of what you want to watch can be painful, so the value add for any platform is not just the content, it’s the curation.” Noted Carter Pilcher, founder & CEO, ShortsTV, “For us, that’s death. Taking 15 minutes to pick and watch a three-minute show, that’s a problem.”
What’s old is new again: “Audiences are still looking for that water color moment,” said Pilcher. “Audiences love the ability to all have watched the same piece of content.” While the content itself is always important, Diefenbach added that increasingly “as viewers spend more time in front of their screens, they naturally look to those environments for more experiences in their lives. The technology has the opportunity to fulfill more than just entertainment; engagement can be broader than just the entertaining content.”

The Changing Face of Local News
Local news is more relevant than ever. And the genre, long reluctant to make any changes, is finally beginning to make big moves in both distribution and content.
Social studies: A new Pew study reports half of Americans get their news from social channels. How do Twitter, Facebook, Twitter and more fit into the ecosystem? “Social is indeed a traffic driver and consumers are absolutely consuming local news on those platforms. It’s definitely important to be there,” said Lisa Bishop, chief digital officer, Allen Media Broadcasting | Heartland Media. Anchors and reporters at NY1 and News 12 post immediately on social, said Michael Felicetti, VP of news, New York Interconnect. “It’s more of a push mechanism to push them back to the linear channels, but there’s no question they are very important vehicles. It’s a way for viewers to deepen their relationship with anchors and reporters, and engage with the community.”
Hitting the target: As local news outlets gain more understanding of who their audience is, “broadcasters now have the opportunity they always dreamed of—to be narrowcasters. And digital provides that opportunity,” said Andrew Heyward, senior research professor of journalism, Arizona State University, adding that enterprise reporting is making a return: “Survival of the sames isn’t going to work any more.”

A Client Conversation: Partnering for Curated Content
Lowe’s, Starcom and Discovery US Hispanic partnered on the “Living Green” campaign series that connected deeply with viewers who are also DIYers.
Stats: “We knew Hispanics are super DIYers,” said Al Hawes, EVP, head of content, Starcom USA, who shared: 87 percent are confident enough to do their own projects, and 20 percent consider themselves pros or have a pro in their family. “They take pride in their homes and their outdoor spaces, and eco-friendly choices are important to them.”
Learning together: “Lowe’s was evolving how they were engaging with the US Hispanic audience, and we needed a partner,” said David Tardio, VP, integrated advertising sales and marketing, Discovery US Hispanic. “We aligned on our purpose to inspire our audience and give them tools to create the best possible home.”
To partnerships and beyond: “Partnership” is not a strong enough description, said Hawes. “Innovation means going beyond the purely transactional partnership. We are looking for brand advocates. We need media to be working as an extension of our agency and our clients.”

A CYNOPSIS MESSAGE FROM GAMUT
WEDNESDAY

How SeeHer is Changing Media

SeeHer is an ANA program whose mission is to help content creators, storytellers, showrunners, actors and network execs provide an accurate portrayal of women and girls through guidelines including the Gender Equality Metric. “Ads that have high GEM scores not only improve brand reputation, but also purchase intent,” said Jeannine Shao Collins, SeeHer president.
Images matter: Lowe’s used GEM guidelines for its DIFY (Do It For Yourself) advertising campaign, said Lisa Schoder, VP, integrated media & partnerships, Lowe’s. “As a SeeHer member we are able to work with those insights to help eliminate gender bias in advertising.” American Express not only embraced the guidelines in its small business advertising campaign, but the company has been optimizing its partnership with SeeHer across a gamut of internal practices. “We also partnered with Getty Images and put together a proprietary training module to trained marketers to think about how to use and select imagery for positive story telling for women,” said Allison Silver, VP, global brand content, American Express.

How to Achieve a Diverse Workplace
Companies that are diverse outperform others by 35 percent, according to a recent McKinsey report. How can your organization get there? Court Stroud, writer and founder of The Cledor Group, drew insights from four experts.
You had me at hello: “DEI efforts begin at hello,” said Thai Randolph, president & COO, Kevin Hart’s Laugh Out Loud. “There are so many subtle cues from day one, and they have a lot of do with the people you’re talking to. It makes all the difference if you’re a person of color to have person of color on the other side.” Randolph also advises companies watch their words in job postings. “Studies found candidates of color are less likely to apply for a position because they look at the list of specifications as a must-have versus white candidates who look at it as a nice-to-have.”
Values first: In the interview process, “make sure the organization lets [candidates] know you are valuing diversity. Don’t take it for granted that is coming across,” said Sandra Alfaro, EVP, managing partner, 305 Worldwide at Horizon Media. “And make sure there’s diversity in the folks who are doing the assessing.”
Walk the talk: “Make sure you’re looking from the inside out and meeting your organization where they are and being realistic so that you can follow through,” advised Elise James-DeCruise, chief equity officer, Ad Council. “There’s a lot of talk, but more needs to be established around what follow-through looks like.”
Pay attention: Black women are paid 63 cents on the dollar vs. their white male counterparts. “Pay disparity needs to be addressed with women and people of different ethnic backgrounds,” said Rose Hulse, CEO & founder, ScreenHitsTV. “The first thing everyone should do is publish the gaps; that will force companies to make sure people are paid equally for the same job.”

Turning Measurement Into Incremental Reach
As more advertisers run ads concurrently across platforms, they need a comprehensive view of campaign performance and the ability to turn insights into action – and many aren’t sure they’re getting that. “Video is fragmenting faster than we are starting to be comfortable with, with current measurement,” said Michael Beach, CEO, Cross Screen Media. Beach shared two case studies from the Dallas market and noted a recent study that revealed only 20 percent of marketers feel comfortable with current measurement across platforms.
Maximizing reach: “Diversify your budget and identify when diminishing returns would set in,” Beach advised. “When people start with a significant broadcast buy, that audience is limited in terms of who you can reach. You definitely need to bring in other screens.”

Next Gen Content
The future may not belong entirely to TikTok—or does it?—but James Cadwallader, co-founder & chief creative officer, Kyra Media, said he’d invest “everything I own” in the metaverse. And that’s just one of the insights about Gen Z-first content in a conversation led by Larissa May, founder and executive director of #HalfTheStory.
The real real: Meeting audiences where they are and supporting them based on needs is trending up. “We are making shows about mental health,” said Brin Lukens, SVP, scripted development, live action, Nickelodeon & AwesomenessTV. “We want to be a reflection of what teens are really experiencing. On the scripted side, it starts with the DNA of the project, and making sure we are finding creators who can authentically tell the stories we are trying to convey.” Kyra, which works with brands including Nike and L’Oreal, launched a mental health channel on TikTok in January and Cadwallader said the goal is to “tap into the real truths, and not sound like a PSA.” He said the most authentic content is “about breaking down the barriers and making things more human—the opposite of Instagram.”

How to Avert the Cookiepocalypse
More than 80 percent of ads use cookies today, and while there’s no silver bullet right now, there are some solid concepts to optimize identifiers to find audiences based on their interests in the cookie-less future.
Power to the people: “The larger thing sitting on top of all that is finding a way to truly put power in consumers’ hands with transparency,” said Phil Sandler, SVP, marketing & growth, Simulmedia, who added: “The holy grail would be one big monolithic system we could agree on, but that’s not going to happen any time soon. It’s about collecting as much first-party data as you can so you can own the conversation with the user and provide a great value exchange to get permission to target content to them.” “The ability to start from scratch when it comes to creating those relationships with the consumer is great. The more transparent you are, the more you’re going to get, and the more the consumer is going to get,” said Natalia Irmin, director, data strategy and partnerships, a4 Advertising. Prachi Priya, chief data officer (Team One), Publicis Groupe, echoed the sentiment: “Building strong first-party marketing is key to the ability to connect with consumers.”

Made to Measure: Exploring New Cross-Platform Measurement Solutions
Are we there yet? In a session moderated by Sean Cunningham, president and CEO of VAB, panelists agreed we’re on the cusp of true cross-platform measurement, but the industry still has a tough last mile ahead and the solution isn’t going to be stagnant. Standardization, adaptability, consumer safety and privacy are all top of mind.
Ultimate reach: Ad spending over the next three-four years is projected to hold for linear and increase for premium video. “One consistent thing is advertisers want to maximize their ad spend, and we are definitely seeing more conversations around cross–platform changes and ultimate reach,” said Carolyn Sheflin, VP, advanced advertising sales, Spectrum Reach.
A call for consolidation: “With over 85 companies that can provide solutions it’s hard for advertising partners and publishers to understand, and ever-changing technology creates interoperability complications,” said Stacie Danzis, VP, digital ad sales, A+E Networks. “Partners who have clean rooms and put privacy first will be leaders in the space.”
Growth mode: “The transparency and ability of marketers to understand who they’re reaching and what consumers do once they’re reached is going to unlock a lot of things that will lead to growth, and grow the pie for everybody,” said Deidre Thomas, managing director, audience measurement, Nielsen.
Measurement = smarter content: “The more we learn about our audience and how they’re consuming across these platforms is only going to make us smarter in the way we develop content and package it,” said Danzis, who added the proposition goes beyond video into podcasts, personalization, live content an shoppable programming. “The new era of analytics is already helping us determine when and where our superfans want to be served with our content,” noted Steve Silvestri, VP, advanced advertising, Discovery.

Streaming Success: The Next Wave
AVOD is no plat du jour. Ad-supported streaming services are steaming hot and here to stay, concluded a panel led by Andrew Sandoval, VP, biddable media at Croud.
Distribution matters: While “there isn’t a demographic that isn’t stepping into the AVOD space,” noted Geraldine Moriba, SVP news, entertainment & empowerment, theGrio, “viewers are often loyal to the space where they begin so the challenge is how to pull them over. Sometimes dangling free content isn’t enough.” “It’s challenging and confusing to consumers, but at the same time we have to be where consumer is—on all platforms,” said Philippe Guelton, EVP, Online Networks, Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment & President, Crackle Plus.
Standing out: TheGrio uses a three-pronged strategy—relevance, content and economic inclusion—to help draw viewers, said Moriba. “Original programming is important to us,” said Guelton.
Diversifying audiences: “We’re consciously trying to broaden our strategy. Instead of going narrowly and putting everything into one bucket, our strategy is to diversity,” said Moriba.

Fireside Chat: NBCU’s Kelly Abcarian
“Measurement is a team sport,” Kelly Abcarian, EVP, measurement & impact, NBCU, told Tracey Scheppach, founder and CEO of Matter More Media. As it moves on the path of measurement independence, the company “didn’t set out to set the path on our own, we have no interest in building anther walled garden. We want to collaborate, and we are open to all opportunities,” she said. To get there, NBCU sent out an RFP and is currently assessing more than 80 proposals. To help educate the industry on its findings, it developed the NBCU Innovation Forum. “This can’t be a game of tonnage and scale alone, it’s also about shaping society,” Abcarian said. “Leaving behind a society that only values audiences and not content is a society we should want to leave in as we move ahead.”

Cutting-Edge Creative Solutions for Advertisers
Shape of the future: “Long gone are the days of Best new artist brought to you by…” said Karen Phillips, EVP, convergent ad sales, ViacomCBS, who’s been selling the VMAs for 20 years. For this year’s awards show, Doritos didn’t use any of their own creative but instead served up three custom segments spotlighting the connection of the snack’s triangle and music—think guitar pick, drum triangle. Toyota announced its new tech partnership with Twitter by enabling fans to send messages during Ed Sheeran’s remote performance the artist could read live.
Go with the Flow: 92 percent of US consumers reported scanning a QR code on something other than a restaurant menu, according to Jim Norton, CRO of Flowcode, which is partnering with Sinclair Media Networks to bring QR technology to television, where networks can use the code as a data signal “to relay to the client the performance of an ad.” The Flowcode tech “not only allows us to not only send advertising messages for clients across the US, but when we want to do promo for a specific audience we can use FlowCode market by market, station to station,” said Darren Finnie, head of marketing & partnerships, Sinclair Media Networks.

Q&A | Why Premium Matters for CTV Advertising Success
Premion’s business has jumped 45 percent-50 percent during the past year. John Vilade, VP, head of sales, Premion, explained some of the reasons why.
Local, loud and clear: “Marketers are wanting to be more granular about who they can reach and how. While there are shifts in audience, there has been no greater time than now to reach those audiences on linear and streaming, which changes the nature of local transactions look like.”
Attribution gets an A: “Dare I say attribution might be the new rating? If buying audiences is what we’re all about, attribution should be a really important proof of concept.”
Safety first: Fraud free, human viewable, transparent ads are the basics, but only the tip of the iceberg. “We compete too hard to have brands aligned to content that’s just junk or to have criminal activity sneak into our investment portfolios of people,” Vilade said, issuing a warning: “Know your supply sources –especially if you’re operating on the open exchange.”

Investing In Black-Owned Media: How To Make An Impact
Leveling sponsorship inequity: A session moderated by Travis Montaque, CEO and founder of Holler, explored challenges and opportunities. Black content creators on social are “struggling to get their value when they are offering their services,” said Jessica Lane Alexander, co-founder & head of digital content and marketing, Pop’N Creative. “It’s no surprise there is an equity wage gap between white content creators and Black content creators; there is a lot lowballing going on.”
Changing the metrics: “You can get invited to the dance, but if the evaluation that’s occurring doesn’t suit you, you don’t have a real opportunity,” said Mark Prince, SVP, head of economic empowerment, Dentsu. While the industry has been wrapped up in scale, there are opportunities in brand lift studies and different KPIs available in the digital space. “Business development hasn’t been a metric in the ad community, and we are now leaning in more heavily and starting to think t bigger about potential.”
A fair race: “There are systemic issues that are stopping us from running the same race,” said Alexander. “We have to stop those before we enter the race to make sure we can run and compete in the race, and compete well.”

A CYNOPSIS MESSAGE FROM GAMUT
THURSDAY

Case Study: Canela.TV and Lexus Go Into Overdrive to Serve U.S. Hispanic Audiences
For the introduction of its IS van, Lexus sought to connect deeply with young Latinx audiences through sponsorship of Canela.TV’s movie night. Here’s what made the campaign a success:
All in: “We wanted to not just reach young Hispanic shoppers but really connect and engage w them by acknowledging their interests. They’re all about being all in on things they love the most, and binging content is a major passion,” said Lisa McQueen, managing media partner, Lexus. “Movie night sponsorship would allow us to bring a dialog and create a deep emotional connection.”
Intimacy play: “We knew we needed to approach the landscape differently than we’d been doing. We moved away from a reach play to more of an intimacy play around content,” said Albert Thompson, managing director, digital, Walton Isaacson, who noted the importance of not looking at multicultural audiences monolithically. “We have to enter an era in acknowledging all the subsegments in the Latin community; they could be future growth pockets.”
Meet your audience where they are: “Scale is always key, and you can get scale many places. But to create those unique connections with the Latin consumer, authenticity is very key in showing you really understand them and connect with them,” said Isabel Zavala, founder/CEO, Canela Media.
News byte: On October 15, Canela Media is launching its second OTT app for the Latin audience. Canela Music will enable users to stream music videos from Latin artists, and also will include four original series featuring Latin stars.

Can’t Get Enough: Addictive Programming
Feeding an addiction: Beyond great characters and stories, “there’s clarity of the promise in that our audiences all know exactly what they are going to get,” said Jane Latman, president, HGTV, Discovery, in a panel moderated by entertainment journalist Shanee Edwards. “We start with what’s primal to people–– family, love, survival—where we tap into something primal but also tell extraordinary stories,” said Matt Sharp, CEO, Sharp Entertainment, which produces “90 Day Fiance” among other shows. “You can’t make people feel something, but you can point them in a direction,” said Tony Khan, CEO/GM/head of creative, All Elite Wrestling. “Most of the time we have good idea of how the audiences are gong to react, but there are some surprises.”
Talent hunting: Social media is a treasure trove for finding talent, said Latman, but HGTV look everywhere from county fairs to self-submitted clips from home renovations. “We’re always looking for authentic characters, which is harder to find than you think,” said Sharp. “We all grew up thinking of the Hollywood model where there are superstars, but I also believe there are millions of people out there who are compelling.”
What’s next in programming: “I think we’re going to see more big, bold and loud,” said Sharp. “People are ready to get out there and try amazing things, social experiments—a reaction to we weren’t able to get out.” Latman says HGTV is eyeing “more shows with attainable situations and budgets, takeaways people can use.”

Sex, Lies & Convergent Video
“The sex in convergent TV right now is football,” Kevin Krim, CEO, EDO, noted to iAB executive chair Randall Rothenberg. “The NFL is really the oxygen of convergent TV and the lifeblood of large brand advertisers and the biggest media companies.”
Size matters: “Audience does matter, and size matters until it doesn’t. We see an opportunity for brands to think about the importance of context and how engaged are those audiences,” Krim said. “If you’re buying the NFL you’re spending a big part of your budget, for a reason. When you get into the much more fragmented world of streaming, where am I going to find the reach? If you’re a mass marketer, you are still dependent on reaching giant audiences.”
Search and discover: The most predictive consumer behavior is search. “Search is special and it’s immediate and it works across every type of product category,” said Krim, who added: “Brands are wondering what’s next if it’s not about Nielsen-measured audience ratings. That opportunity is to think differently about what the true value of your [campaign] is. Convergent TV is going to behave more and more like digital.”

Make It Happen: Diversity In Media Is Everyone’s Business
The industry is at a pivotal point where diversity, equity and inclusion are no longer buzzwords but calls to action as the US audience is heading to majority people of color in next 25 years.
Same, same but different: “One of the biggest mistakes I hear often from people not of color is that audiences of color is a monolith. We are very different,” said Melissa Ingram, SVP, multicultural networks and strategy, UP Entertainment. At the same time, some BIPOC communities do have shared experience, as has flourished at BNC, whose staff is 80 percent people of color and whose goal is to have correspondents in the top 25 African-American cities to provide coverage from a unique perspective. Princell Hair, CEO, BNC, shared that one of his employees recently said the company was the first where he’d worked “Where he didn’t have to check his Black at the door.” As well as news, BNC is focused on Black excellence, elevating chefs, entertainers, educators and other people of color “doing great things in our community.”
Get out of your box: “There’s a big nation of different people and different cultures. If all the stories we see come from one viewpoint, that’s incredibly boring for one thing, but we need to see ourselves reflected in the stories we’re seeing,” said Tania Koenig-Gauchier, co-owner and producer, Wapanatahk Media, who noted, “Representation saves lives…If you’re a young indigenous person and you see yourself and your community reflected, that makes a huge difference. We are fighting back on a legacy of colonialism.” Noted Ingram, “diversity is good business. The days of the undermining and underutilization of BIOOC creatives is over.”

Case Study: Programming With Purpose
The Operation Santa program has been running at the United States Postal Service for more than 100 years. Last year the program was the heart of short film, “Dear Santa,” which was a hit on the festival circuit, acquired by IFC and this year will appear on Hulu. The team has also been approached about taking the IP forward potentially as a series or podcast. Dawn Reese, SVP, US managing director, UM Studios, moderated the panel.
What do you stand for?: “It’s more important than ever that brands stand for something and that they come forward and talk about the things they stand for,” said Brendan Gaul, global chief content officer at MediaBrands, which produced the film. “Many brands are intrinsically humble about the good work they do. But we’ve found the brands that are the most successful in the content space are those that have history of taking action.”
Delivering results: Reaction to the film went beyond traditional marketing metrics, among them: First choice brand preference, up 7 points; Favorability, 8 points; Top of mind for the holidays, 5 points, said Chris Karpenko, executive director, brand marketing, USPS. “It’s an organic social cause, it’s people demonstrating acts of kindness, and the postal service helping to enable that and binding the nation.”
Tips for creating purpose-first content: “It’s critical the activation be organic to the brand and have longevity,” said Dani Benowitz, president, U.S., Magna. “I love the idea about having a life year after year because it shows commitment, that it’s not a marketing ploy, not a one in and one out.” Benowitz said brands are looking for sustainability, equity and charities they can get behind.

Converting Consumer Data Into Action
All together now: “Our focus is on how to bring all the data together and break the silos in different verticals so we can understand our audience better,” said Suja Viswesan, head of data, WarnerMedia, in a session moderated by Jane Clarke, CEO, managing director, CIMM. Tom Ziangas, SVP, revenue & strategic research, Crown Media Family Networks, said, “The amount of data I’m dealing with now vs. five years ago is 20x and I don’t have 20x times the amount of people. It starts with having a data plan in terms of integrating all these different data sets.”
MIA data: The data Spotify would most like to have is data from the brands and agencies, said Jon Gibbs, global director/principal data scientist, audience, research & measurement, Spotify. “The ability to better integrate the behavior on our platform with the transactional data on the clients’ system, from a targeting perspective and a data perspective, that would add a ton and help us take experience to the next level.”
Interactivity’s a plus: Spotify ran a recent test that proved the power of increased interactivity on the platform increasing the overall effectiveness of advertising by 20 points. It’s a boon for interactive platforms, less so for “linear TV and radio because they can’t increase the interactivity,” Gibbs said.

Succeeding In Today’s Personalized Connected TV Landscape
Big and small: “Great intellectual property, the ability to customize and viewership at scale” are key to drawing and retaining customers, said Rob Christensen, VP, advanced TV sales & distribution, Vevo. Vevo, which reaches 150 million viewers monthly, goes broad as well as targeted—with content geared to specific audiences via a new addressable product, and a focus on having customer behavior inform programming.
Crossing into new measurement: With increased packaging of traditional and streaming inventory, “cross-platform measurement and the ability to show marketers they are achieving incremental reach in walled gardens and against their competitors” is increasing as well, said Michael Shields, GM, advanced advertising, Triplelift, adding that attribution and the connection of the upper and lower funnel is also elevating.
Audience engagement: “We see a strong correlation between levels of audience engagement and quality and relevance of the ad experience itself – and it goes doubly for the CTV ecosystem,” said Tom St. John, head of partnerships, Beachfront. “The creative is important, but we believe it goes a lot deeper than that, and you have to take the totality of the viewers’ ad experience into account.”
Ad load r/x: Everyone is experimenting and trying to find the secret sauce. “We have to move to fewer commercials; audiences want less ads than in the linear environment, Shields said. “But we need to still provide opportunities for networks to maintain their revenue streams.” More integrated experiences, product placements, and more squeezing of ads into programming gaps—think sports—are on the way. “Having a really flexible programming interface to program these digital linear channels is really critical,” said Taylor Kirchwehm, director of account management, Zype, “and also having first-party insights about what content is most important to viewers.”

Beyond Telenovelas: Engaging Today’s Latinx Audiences
The opportunity to reach the Latinx audience is rapidly expanding across both linear and streaming, agreed a panel moderated by Craig Geller, EVP, GM, Azteca America. As such programmers need to be everywhere, and aware of the diversity of the community. “Make it available and give them a choice, and you have a better chance to connect with them,” said Federico Garza, SVP, research strategy and insights, NBCUniversal Telemundo Enterprises. “It’s not a one-platform situation any more for Latinos in general and in particular the Latinx audience,” said Ignacio Meyer, EVP of music and non-scripted entertainment, Univision Communications.
Duality: “When content creators want to connect with the segment, they need to understand it’s not just talking to them as Hispanics, they’re talking to them as Hispanics and Americans,” said Garza. “The Latino community is wanting to engage and see themselves represented. I reject the idea there is acculturation. We have always been American and we will always be American. If you work with Latinx people, we can deliver that audience for you,” said Jaime Davila, president & co-founder, Companario Entertainment
Passion points: “Music is one of those few things that transcends barriers. We lean into music to celebrate culture across generations. We try to be a bridge between generations, and at the center of it is culture,” said Meyer. “Leaning into music is powerful for brands,” he said. “It’s about passion points.” Look for the network to deliver new tentpole events in sports and culture in the coming year.

Case Study: The Weather Channel Steers Sales To Lincoln
A dovetailing of corporate missions led to the creation of co-branded content under the umbrella “Comfort in the Extreme” that showcased three models of Lincoln SUVs featuring three Weather Channel meteorologists.
Sunny results: The spots ran on Weather Channel for several months, said Barbara Bekkedahl, president of advertising sales, The Weather Group, who shared some learnings: The spots performed better than some of the net’s day ratings and was popular on social handles with 3 million impressions on the channel’s socials and performance of 79 percent higher engagement versus other branded posts. “It’s really hard to find that authentic connection; this one was such a natural fit,” said Anna Bonfiglio, lead, Lincoln Media Planning.

Where The Dollars Will Flow In 2022
“We need to demonstrate more long-term value, that’s our holy grail,” said moderator Lou Paskalis, chairman, global media & data board, MMA Global. Here’s what the panel had to say:
Show me the money: “It comes down to audiences and engaging them where they are. I love the idea of optionality for clients and engaging with clients in meaningful moments on screens or audio. I love what’ going on with digital platforms—TikTok, Snap, iHeart and Spotify—and what’s going on with podcasting,” said Matt Sweeney, chief investment officer, GroupM. Platforms that offer personalization will be key, said Cara Lewis, dentsu’s EVP/head of US investment; gaming is poised to boom, said Madhavi Tadikonda, EVP managing director, investment, Havas Media.
Wake up call to publishers: “We’ve been looking at a holistic video strategy for years. The challenge is getting publishers to think holistically as well. I think they still think of ad product in their silos. How do we shift that to be more fluid as well?” asked Katie Haniffy. senior director, Pepsico.
Opportunity knocks: “There are more players in the space than ever, more opportunities for us to connect our brands with the consumer where they are,” said Haniffy. Challenges include how to marry creative with content and managing frequency. “The campaigns I’ve been focused on lately are more about audience, and making sure the targetability is there; otherwise you’re just wasting your dollars,” said Tadikonda. “It comes down to finding the audience you’re not reaching in the traditional environment, and reach extension.”
A little bit of everything: Dentsu is doing a little bit of everything, said Lewis, “but it comes down to client level and their comfort and how we can push them along, and the actual KPIs they are trying to deliver.”

Getting In Tune With Gen Z
Gen Z wants to see themselves reflected in both entertainment and advertising content. They have confidence in their own voice, and are quick to mobilize others, which is both powerful and scary, especially in the age of cancel culture, a panel led by Lori Hall, co-founder & head creative, Pop’N Creative, concurred.
Ignore them at your peril: “Take Gen Z seriously,” advised Julia Munslow, project editor, Yahoo News, who launched the division’s TikTok channel last March right before the pandemic. “We looked at our brand and what we’re meant to do—deliver news—and how can we put it on TikTok,” she said. “It’s important to believe young people want to understand the news and want to understand what’s going on.”
Building a narrative: In advertising, outreach “has to be something very relatable. You can’t sell to this generation, you have to engage them. It’s less about putting the product first and more about building a narrative that’s meaningful for them,” said Dave Kersey, executive media director, GSD&M. Insights at his company are showing ad frequency “isn’t dong that much for our brands. It becomes repetitive. You have to act fast and tell immersed stories to engage them, while making sure content is relatable.”
Digital natives: “They have an innate understanding of these platforms in a way [we don’t]. And they have this ability to really mobilize and come together as a group,” said Andrea Brakke, VP, programming strategy and acquisitions, Vice TV. Brakke said Gen Z is watching content on every screen, except the TV, which they engage in only when co-viewing.

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