Cynopsis Medias First Morning Read
Friday September 29, 2023

By Yakira Young

Cynopsis’ 5th annual Big TV Conference was one for the books. 2023 has been quite a year – cord-cutting, measurement advances, remote work, and of course the writers’ and actors’ strikes. So there was no shortage of content for this year’s event – sponsored by New York Interconnect, the VAB, Premion, iSpot.tv, Locality, Kochava, Kargo, wurl, ARF Dash TV Universe Study, and Imagine Communications – where industry experts provided their perspectives on streaming and linear challenges, sustainability, cost effective programming, understanding Gen Z, first party data, and much more.

In case you missed a session or two, dive into our full executive summary below.


Keynote Session with Jamie Lumley, Third Bridge Group Limited

When asked by moderator Lynn Leahey, editorial director at Cynopsis, about the challenges and opportunities in the industry, Jamie Lumley, an analyst at Third Bridge Group Limited emphasized that both revolve around the ongoing shift from traditional media to streaming, with cord-cutting and the rise of streaming companies.

“The big question facing the ecosystem today is as streaming continues to elevate, does the new media space have the same overall pie that traditional has? We don’t have the answer just yet, so as we continue to discuss finding this balance, finding the right way to build up these businesses is one of the key areas here,” Lumley explained.

What about local news and major sports, you’re wondering? According to Lumley, this has been a big area for the industry. “Different players are thinking about what sports rights they can afford. News is increasingly going to be a part of the streaming experience, and whether that can drive audiences to streaming is a big question.”

Finding a Cross-Platform Measurement Fit

In the words of Andrea Zapata, EVP and head of ad sales research, measurement and insights at Warner Bros. Discovery, the way God intended for us to watch TV was on our big TV screens, but now we consume it on various devices. Moderator Sean Cunningham, President and CEO of the VAB, led an engaging discussion where both executives outlined their measurement solutions.

“From the start at Warner Bros. Discovery, we were very clear that there are two different ways that you can activate against linear television,” Zapata explained. “One is using more data-driven tactics, and the other is how you measure it or, ultimately, how you transact against it.”

The research has shown this trend where content is being captured everywhere. “My sons are on the iPad more than the big TV,” noted Jason Swartz, VP, advanced advertising, New Business, and National Sales at New York Interconnect. “We need better transparency for streaming,” Swartz continued, “so we are pushing way ahead of others to get reporting at the network level to understand how to place programmatic streaming programs in a specific space to find the audience.”

CTV’s Resilience: Reflecting on 2023, Charting 2024’s Path for Advertisers

While 2023 has been a year of resiliency and growth for streaming, the ecosystem must focus on taking the consumer-centric approach. Now is the time more than ever to pay more attention to your consumers’ needs and values and ensure that they align with your marketing priorities.

Yakira Young, content manager at AdMonsters, sat down with John Vilade, Head of Sales at Premion. When asked about the convergence shift and implications for sellers and advertisers, Vilade replied, “Sellers need good experience in selling both linear and streaming. If not, you’ll be left behind.”

He predicted 2024 will be a better year in advertising as we know it, considering the political election and Olympics taking place in the same year. His exact words: “Streaming will win elections in 2024.”

According to Vilade, Premion has already started having conversations with government officials in DC, and there will be a bigger investment in streaming with this upcoming election. All in all, streaming is an interactive platform with an interactive audience. Buyers and sellers need to take advantage of this.

Advertising, Supercharged

The shift from a “reach-based economy” to an “impact-based economy” means finding a balance between reach and impact in advertising, focusing on getting closer to the point of sale and understanding the consumer better. The industry is adapting to new processes, technology platforms, and the need for different skill sets as it embraces data-driven advertising strategies.

Moderator Howard, Homonoff senior advisor of Grant Thornton led a much-needed discussion. When he asked Dana McGraw, VP of audience modeling and data science at Disney Advertising, where are we when it comes to the readiness for the end of cookies, she let him know that “we are at acceptance, but not resolution.” Now is the time to figure out the long-term solution. At Disney, it was a priority to build a full-in house audience graph.

According to Denise Ocasio, executive director of Investment at Mindshare “we’ve gotten better and are at a better place than we were five or six years ago,” as it relates to the frequent, frequency concern, or in other words a user seeing the same ad repeatedly. She suggests that companies “work with authentic intelligence,” which is an actual human being monitoring the schedule to avoid this.

Both panelists agreed that embracing change, collaboration, and forward-thinking are important for the industry’s future success.

Fun Fact: It was Denise’s birthday and we all joined in on singing Happy Birthday to her!

Steaming’s New Wave

There’s no doubt that streaming continues to grow in popularity, and with this in mind, Verna Coleman VP of brand partnerships & B2B Marketing at Canela Media highlighted that for her and her team, reaching their audience “is all about the growth of the audience as the consumer population continues to rise.”

In order to adapt to changing audience behaviors, Bloomberg recently launched Bloomberg originals. “We did this in February with the intent of pulling some of that existing viewership that we have and extending their engagement and also bringing in a little bit of a broader younger audience as well, ” Travis Winkler, GM of video & audio at Bloomberg Media explained.

Chicken Soup for the Soul leans on a few things when it comes to sharing their core audience of about 40 million with the brands they work with. “We have the robot kiosk, which is a huge DOOH opportunity, millions of people walk past it every day,” Maura Gray, SVP of marketing at Chicken Soup for the Soul explains. “It leads to a huge market ability considering about 50% are signing up with their emails.”

Why Demanding Transparency from the Walled Gardens Can’t-Wait

Sean Cunningham, President and CEO of the VAB, never disappoints. During a short and sweet presentation just a little shy of lunchtime, he explained how the walled gardens are the new apex shot callers in the advertising arena. As we all know, this hasn’t been an easy adjustment.

He emphasized three main themes:
* The seismic power shift in the marketing ecosystem over the last decade
* Examples of advertiser damage enabled by the double standard in ad video
* Strategies for how marketers can reclaim full control of their ad spend and ensure brand safety
“When discussing building the best measurement tool, marketers need to know the origin of impressions. With walled gardens, there is not as much transparency as there once was. Things are more opaque,” said Cunningham.

The Future of TV Measurement and Currencies in a Cross-Platform World

Leading with acknowledging the importance of trust and transparency in a cross-platform world, Sean Muller, CEO of iSpot.tv, and Travis Scoles, SVP of Advanced Advertising at Paramount, discussed the importance of advertisers measuring the efficacy of campaigns in a way that factors in the totality of their buy.

They brought up the Joint Industry Committee aka “the JIC,” which is “buyers and sellers coming together to say we need measurement to evolve to meet the modern media landscape,” explained Scoles, a board member of this group. The JIC provides a hand in the evolution of industry decision-makers. They also briefly touched on the influence of the Streaming Innovation Alliance and the Independent Streamers Alliance.

What lies ahead? Currency and measurement are currently on an island, according to Muller. “Currency is a very narrow, structured thing,” Muller said. “In the future, they will start to merge, and currency will have more flexibility, whether it’s the audience definition or the KPI. Measurement will need currency grade data to be trusted.”

“The future for us is giving our buyers the power to choose the data, the provider, or what’s best for their business overall,” Scoles added. “The future for us is supporting our clients.”

Getting Real about Reality TV

In 2023 we are well into exploring non-traditional forms of deploying talent and creating content. Luke Kelly-Clyne, Co-head of Hartbeat Independent at Hartbeat Media led a roundtable discussion about some of the happenings at Hartbeat and the power of celebrity influence.

“There are hurdles along the way but as we jump over them, we discover new revenue models that previously didn’t exist,” Kelly-Clyne said when speaking of a first-of-its-kind deal that Hartbeat inked with Roku. He also mentioned that they are always looking for new partnerships that they can leverage.

Over at Boardwalk Pictures, Sarina Roma, EVP of Original focused on taking their core values of authenticity and character driven storytelling and applying them to new formats. “We are trying to get into new spaces that we’ve never been in before, but always true to our original nature of storytelling,” Roma emphasized.

In the eyes of Laura Michalchyshyn, Chief Creative Officer and Co-President of Global Production at Blue Ant Media, “finding success in reality TV is about trusted partnerships on the buying side. You must build relationships with your buyers.”

Unlock the Power of Local TV: Combining the Value of Broadcast and Streaming

Local TV is often overlooked, but this reminds us that it is still at the forefront of our industry. Ann Hailer, President of Broadcast at Locality, and Keith Kazerman, President of Streaming at Locality, highlighted that most consumers live close to their homes, and retail planning is based on location intelligence and foot traffic.

“National marketing versus that local partnership or that local decision has to come with marketing that is tailored to that local marketplace,” Hailer explained.

The panelists weighed in on the challenges in unifying streaming platforms at the local level and the value of local news in building trust and brand reputation. They discussed the role of programmatic and acknowledged its benefits but also emphasized the importance of a consultative approach and human intelligence in understanding local nuances.

Moderator Albert Thompson, Managing Director of Digital at Walton Isaacson, brought up programmatic.

“Everything we do is automated, and that solves many of the complexities as it pertains to programmatic at Locality,” Kazerman said.

How to Reach Sustainability Goals

Barbara Lange, Principal and CEO of Kibo121 and Dr. Laura Marks, Professor at Simon Fraser University talked about sustainability in the media industry, focusing on the significant carbon footprint and energy consumption associated with content creation, manipulation, and distribution.

The pair emphasized the need for measures to reduce the environmental impact, highlighting the rising energy use of information communication technology (ICT) and the consequences of streaming.

“The bigger the production, the more carbon footprint you have, our goal is to do more with less over time,” Lange stated. “Virtual productions are one way content creators can get around some of the energy issues, use your existing footage.”

“Film in lower resolution so that when you compress it, you won’t have to work so hard, the carbon footprint of streaming is due to devices,” Marks advised.

View Dr. Marks’ presentation here: https://www.cynopsis.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/10/laura-how-to-reach-sustainability-goals.pptx

Cost-Effective Programming: Getting More with Less

There are a lot of challenges when it comes to working within budget constraints in the TV industry. Moderator JC Mils, President and Head of Content at Cineflix Productions, Paul Epstein a freelance EP and showrunner, and David Karabinas, CEO of Texas Crew Productions shared their experiences and discussed the importance of careful planning and resource optimization.

When asked how he manages working with projects with borderline unrealistic budgets Epstein responded, “I would never say I can’t do what I want to do on that budget level of that project that I’m being vetted for. My response is always going to be, what can I do for that budget level that I’m being vetted for?”

When it comes to finding the right showrunners, “people with a no job is too big, no job is too small mindset work best,” said Karabinas.


Where Art Thou, Gen Z?

The impact of Gen Z’s entertainment consumption is a trending topic. Viewing habits have drastically changed, and while demystifying Gen Z won’t happen, we can work to understand them better.

“Brands and marketers must allow themselves to be criticized, but also stand out as a brand,” said Drew Corry, SVP, group director of Strategic Investment and Marketplace Strategy at MAGNA. “From a content perspective, think about how you can get scripted to work in the context of social media.”

Let Hali Anastopoulo tell it: Gen Z knows authenticity like they know their ABCs. As co-founder and Chief Creative Officer at Get Me Out Productions, she comprehends the significance of your values being reflected in your content. “It’s really important to be authentic with the content you’re making, the messaging, the marketing, and the campaigns you run,” she said.

Taryn Crouthers, President of ATTN: suggests thinking about how Gen Z is consuming content. “When casting for this audience, you don’t need a big A-list celebrity but those with a strong niche following.

Key takeaway? Trust and authenticity go a long way when trying to reach and engage with Gen Z audiences.

Demystifying the Myth, How Outcomes-Based Measurement is Changing the Metrics of TV

Jason Howell, VP of sales, media and entertainment at Kochava, wore his sense of humor when he disclosed that he chose Tony Marlow, CMO of LG Ad Solutions, to join him on stage because he has a cool Australian accent.

Marlow let the audience know that the shifts we are seeing (from linear to streaming, from subscription streaming to ad supporter) will continue. “I urge all of you to think about where we are going. What happens next? How can I have a shoppable experience that’s embedded into the content and enhances it rather than detracts from it?”

When you think of what’s to come, you can experiment with the confidence of understanding what works through outcome measurement.

Howell’s key takeaways were simple, “Buy-side, don’t take no for an answer, closed mouths don’t get fed, and sell side, don’t be afraid to lead in. It’s a differentiator.”

Pay Attention!

The Q&A went both ways when Angelina Eng VP of Measurement, Addressability and Data Center at IAB and Brian Lin SVP of Product Management at TelevisaUnivision took the stage.

Eng broke down the three ways she thinks about attention and measurement, those are:
* Physiological and neurological – Eye tracking, brainwaves, heart rate, blood pressure, anything that can either be connected in media lab or a device or a camera.
* Data processing – Signals coming specifically from a device, it could be around behavior, engagement and through a CTV system itself, laptop or a mobile device.
* Cognitive and emotional data – focus groups, brain awareness studies, brain health studies, et cetera.
“Attention measurement is still in its infancy and defining intention has been challenging which is why we are looking at the three above approaches,” Eng said.

“I think it’s extremely interesting from a product standpoint, we must continue going against the grain of looking for opportunities to reach the marketer’s goal. We have to continue to experiment and grill those data providers by asking the hard questions,” Lin explained.

Artificial Intelligence: It’s Personal

On a panel moderated by Kristin Wnuk SVP of Sales at Madhive, each panelist agreed that there are opportunities for brands and advertisers to use AI. The moral of the story is it’s less about what tools we can make in AI and more about how it is permeating everything we do as consumers and professionals.

Rich Frankel, Global Creative Director at Spotify Advertising, pointed out that the AI evolution is going to happen at the speed of light, all we can do is be ready. “Understand what you’re letting AI look at in order to learn and how you’re managing the data it has access to,” Frankel suggested.

“There’s a lot to be done and to be optimized, the people who are going to be the most successful are those that approach AI with curiosity. Curiosity is the beginning of creativity,” Nicky Lorenzo SVP, Executive Creative Director of 305Worldwide added.

“2024 will be the year of targeting in terms of AI and influence,” Will Heins, Partner at Brandtech noted.

Reach Out and Touch Someone: The New Interactive Programming

Fireside takes the T out of transactional by allowing consumers to own the relationships they establish on the platform and their data on Fireside. Falon Fatemi, CEO of Fireside, sat down with Moderator Albert Thompson, Managing Director of Digital at Walton Isaacson, to discuss opportunities to deepen relationships beyond transactional value.

“The community we’ve built on Fireside sticks around because they feel like there’s an intimacy, almost like an interactive Facetime. Our sense of belonging continues to drive consumer growth,” Fatemi says.

Did you know…Falon Fatemi comes from the world of Silicon Valley. She started out as a young employee at Google and YouTube. She helped launch YouTube Live – and was on YouTube at a time when Netflix was still renting DVDs.

DE&I and The Modern Media Plan: Q&A with Danone and Wavemaker

If there is one thing that Danone and Wavemaker have in common, it’s their commitment to doing the right thing, which is why they make such a dynamic brand/agency duo. Moderator Jeannine Shao Collins, Chief Client Officer at Kargo, highlighted Kargo’s efforts in helping diverse-owned suppliers.

“We’re kicking off a content hub alongside the MCA. We are co-creating meaningful content together. They are looking for alignment with the audience from a content perspective. As well as what content aligns with the brands or values,” said Kelly Howard, Partner and Group Planning Director at Wavemaker.

“DEI is really embedded in our purpose at Danone, and media is just one of the elements,” Angela DiGrazia Mohen, Senior Manager of Media Connections at Danone, added. “Our inclusive diversity stance helps pave the way for a more equitable social, economic, and food systems.”

Fun Fact: Kargo, Danone, and Wavemaker have employed over 20 writers through their multicultural content empire and created over 700 articles monthly.

Finding – And Retaining – The Employees You Need Now

Karen Gray, EVP of HR and Head of DEI at A+E Networks, Artis Johnson, HRBSN Partner at TV One, and Christine Guilfoyle, President SEEHER, sat down to talk about the importance of empathy, honest conversations, and fostering a culture that values employees’ needs and perspectives.

“Seen, heard, and valued are truly at the heart of what DEI&B strategies are about,” Guilfoyle said. The fully virtual mentorship dynamic had to reshape itself. I think the return to the office is amazing for Gen Z employees because of the mentor sponsorship aspect of it. I’m not sure they know what they’ve missed out on.”

“Employees are the reason we are here. They are the ones pushing out the work,” Johnson added. How can we exhibit a connection to a consumer or community if there is no community internally within the organization? In a hybrid environment, when employees challenge their higher-ups, it gives the executives no choice but to change how they manage. This is how growth happens at the top down.”

“Retaining employees saves money. If there’s a revolving door, there is no retention,” Gray said.

What A Brand Wants

Shortly after a quick beer and wine break, Betsy Paynter, director of US Media at Heineken, Greg Miller, VP/account director of Eicoff, and Jeremy Herbert, VP of marketing at We Buy Any Car hashed out the need for brands to adapt and optimize their strategies for CTV with the evolving role of data at the forefront.

“There’s a bit of a difference between performance marketing and brand marketing, but at the end of the day, everyone is very excited about how CTV will evolve in delivering data,” Moderator Rachel Herskowitz, VP of Brand Partnerships at iHeartRadio, said.

“Measurement regiment is better now than ever,” Miller pointed out. “You can certainly learn a lot, and there are tools out there today where you can put linear and CTV on the same plane.”

“I think the next stage is to get more joined up in our first-party data and the first-party data of media providers and the platforms. We can make beautiful things happen together,” said Herbert.

At Heineken, Paynter showcased the sensitivity about what they can and cannot buy into. “Context is super important, and I think having a more transparent view of what programming is doing well is super helpful,” she stated.

First Party Data Dos and Don’ts

When it comes to addressable TV, it’s important to understand and target audiences rather than relying on individual-level data. Pam Zucker, Chief Strategy Officer at the IAB, led a discussion about utilizing first-party data and the significance of defining clear target audiences for effective campaign targeting and measurement.

“We must be cautious of ‘cool catch tools’ and ensure we are utilizing these tools in a manner that truly helps us,” said Darren Sherriff, VP of advertising technology solutions at FOX. In this particular instance, he was referring to Data Clean Rooms.

At Imagine Communications, they are trying to enable interoperability by working with advanced reporting tools to conduct complex analyses. “Generally, we provide a core inventory management system,” Steven Reynolds, President of Imagine Communications, added.

Feel the Churn: Strategies for Boosting Subscriber Engagement

When each panelist was asked the one thing they think needs to be fixed in order to increase subscriber engagement here is what they had to say:

Jon Giegengack Founder and Principal of Hub Entertainment Research:
“Do a better job of showing people things that will interest them and surprise them in lieu of throwing everything at the wall and expecting that you’re going to win by volume.”

Eric Sorensen Director of Streaming VIdeo Tracker at Parks Associates:
“We talked about personalization and I think there is certainly an opportunity to make it a better experience. I think we will see some consolidation that makes that process easier.”

Monica Williams SVP of Digital Products and Operations at NBCUniversal:
“Discovery experience is part of the total content experience, so I hope to see a deeper collaboration between publishers and platform partners in terms of support.”

Want to attend a future Cynopsis event? Check out the latest list of upcoming events here.

Cynopsis Team

Lynn Leahey
Editorial Director

Kerry Smith
Division President
Access Intelligence

Robbie Caploe
VP/Group Publisher

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


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