10/19/23: Insights and Highlights from Advertising Week New York 2023 – Thursday


Cynopsis Medias First Morning Read
Thursday October 19, 2023

Insights and Highlights from Advertising Week New York 2023

It’s a wrap – almost!
By Charlotte Dulany

It’s just hours from the end of Advertising Week New York 2023, the annual event that saw Paris Hilton, Keegan Michael Key and nearly 150 CEOs take the stage, flipping the script on how to best engage advertisers. So what’s the secret? A talent-led, inclusive and authentic playbook.

Conversations at Advertising Week orbited around the latest opportunities and challenges in TV, particularly how marketers can make more informed investments. “Cross screen investment and managing the shift to CTV while understanding the important place held by linear” was a key topic, said Ethan Heftman, SVP of agency sales at Ampersand. “Having the ability to effectively reach desired audiences requires a blend of the two, and the industry is still searching for the proper balance.”

Speaking of balance, “Marketing, like the media landscape as a whole, is at a critical crossroads between scale and personalization,” noted Andrew Kandel, CEO at New York Interconnect. “The coming years will need to see consolidation to platforms that can deliver effectively against both paths.”

The Marketer’s Toolset

With adtech, martech and retail media solutions at the ready, the “work” of marketing is evolving. In a session with KINESSO’s Sean Muzzy, Ampersand CEO Nicolle Pangis said, “Do we really need a full day to discuss measurement? If you think about performance margin capabilities that span biddable channels and the automation of media, we did this to help our clients seamlessly.”

Arielle Garcia, consultant, advisor and fractional chief privacy officer at ASG Solutions, said in another session, “The most impactful starting point [in combating ad fraud] is for advertisers to demand transparency. A lot of the challenge, however, is that advertisers probably don’t even know where they’re sacrificing transparency.” In the same vein, VAB president and CEO Sean Cunningham noted, “When you are semi-opaque [about media] and always pushing for the lowest standards [relating to what defines an ad], there’s potential for compromised ad spend and brand damage.” He continued, “When you are 100% transparent, and you have the highest media standards, the potential for compromised ad spend or brand damage is minimal.”

The convergence of advertising and entertainment is omnipresent. As Hartbeat CEO Thai Randolph pointed out, “Advertising isn’t siloed anymore – there is an abundance of content, platforms and experiences out there for audiences to choose from and brands have to meet consumers where they are.” The way people interact with brands is changing; today it’s all about conversation, collaboration and integration, according to Randolph.


Streaming as a Moving Target

“Let’s stop arguing about acronyms and focus on the work and the progress,” suggested Brittany Slattery, CMO at OpenAP. Speaking on the formation of the JIC, Slattery continued, “I think the focus is twofold. One, we need more transparency and we need more standards across these cross-platform currencies. And I believe that’s really up to the buyers and the sellers who are responsible for creating those deals to really dictate what that should look like and then work with our measurement partners to really create the right environment that we need to scale this.”

“More brands, not just small businesses, are embracing a local strategy,” said Keith Kazerman, president of streaming at Locality. “Every consumer is local. Understanding that a person’s relationship with your brand is influenced by their own experience at home or the nearest retail location in their community is essential to creating true impact. Brands are leaning into that.”

The Creator Age

With social media, so-called “average people” can become their own brand. And with the help of partnerships and projects with media companies, the next generation of creators is building their audience around their personalities and original content. By partnering with these rising forces, brands are at the crux of creating specialized content with the capacity to reach a larger audience and lay the foundation for a more holistic approach to marketing.

In a nicheified and fragmented world, what does ‘popularity’ mean? No longer exclusive to the mainstream, the idea has evolved into a framework for content that delivers the unexpected, connects people together and brings nuanced and individual experiences to a bigger stage. With this new definition, the paradox of people looking for community despite the available channels and platforms at the ready poses a new question: How can marketers learn what will drive reach, engagement, re-watch, affinity and brand love in the matrix of the intersection of popularity and fandom?

“I think popularity today and entertainment [have] become more varied in terms of scope and scale, and arguably more democratic in terms of who and what can be popular,” said Domenic DiMeglio, EVP and CMO of Paramount Streaming. “With fragmentation and so much competition for people’s time and attention… We’ve seen this proliferation of interests and fandoms and I think for us in this space it’s created an amazing opportunity to really engage with those fans, meet them where they are and really nurture that fandom, which I view as something really important to what we do day in and day out.” Creating and moving culture do not only have to with bringing communities together that transcend audience segments but also the empowerment of distribution of content that allows the culture to pervade.

AI and Relevancy

Approximately 64% of US employees are concerned about implementing AI in advertising, according to Cint. Despite more than half of employees believing their company should institute AI policies, organizations are failing to implement the technology in the workplace; the research found that only 19% of respondents’ organizations have an AI policy.

Lesley Silverman, head of web3 at UTA, said, “There will always be concern surrounding powerful consumer-facing technologies, and generative AI is no exception.” As marketers and creatives have adopted AI, Silverman said, “they’ve already been reaping the benefits of enhanced productivity, creative output and efficient hyper-personalization.”

“AI has created a paradigm shift across all industries, especially in the advertising space,” said Vincent Yates, chief data scientist at Credera, a global consulting firm. “The barrier to entry to AI has been removed and now AI will be a part of every part of the customer journey. Organizations who can move quickly in a strategic way will see dividends in the long run.”

In a hallway chat with Walton Issacson’s Managing Director of Digital Innovation, Albert Thompson, he offered that “the push to attention metrics actually has become a catalyst for the introduction of AI by way of computer vision to read true attention by studying biometrics and responses to facial recognition.” And in discussing another popular topic about finding a bridge between physical and digital, he said, “we must understand how the consumer moves back and forth between experiences for making brand decisions in their consumption journey. Each one must extend the reality of the other.”

Big Tech chimed in from a software point of view. Emphasizing their ongoing partnerships and projects, Google addressed AI’s functionality in video reach, broad match, image generation and more. According to the NCS Sales Lift Meta Analysis (2022 campaigns), AI-powered video reach campaigns earned an average 3.7x higher ROAS than manually optimized campaigns.


Data Meets Content

From a marketer’s perspective, Michelle Aragon, VP of brand marketing and strategy at Spectrum Reach, defines ‘premium content’ as dependent on audience, brand safety, professionally produced or user generated, but rooted in the outcomes an advertiser is trying to deliver. As for how Aragon the industry shift to focus on outcomes, she said, “It all goes back to your business growth goals like what are you trying to do, and that’s different for everyone…I think what’s apparent in the conversation is that everyone is thinking about an omnichannel, full-funnel approach and there are different pieces that are being used to accomplish different things.”

Combining premium content with technology allows companies to ensure a better experience for both the consumer and the marketer. “For a while, tech companies wanted to be content companies,” said chairman of NBCUniversal global advertising & partnerships Mark Marshall. “And content companies wanted to be tech companies. We sit in the middle of that. And what we’ve been able to do is say, take the reach and scale that we provide, layering in this new technology, and we can talk to advertisers in a completely different way.” Dollars from social and retail media networks have the ability to pair together with premium content to reach advanced audiences cross-platform.

Where is there room for growth in the advertising ecosystem?
Here’s what some execs has to say.

Ethan Heftman, SVP of agency sales, Ampersand: “The basic trade of free content in exchange for an advertising message remains despite the pace of change in consumer behavior. The key is to adapt advertising strategies in a way that stays attuned to evolving consumer trends, technological advancements, and market dynamics. Building trust with consumers and providing them with value are the crucial elements for engagement. Advertisers can leverage data and analytics like never before to gain insights into consumer behavior and preferences, enabling them to tailor their advertising strategies for more effective engagement.”

Rachel Conforti, SVP of marketing, LoopMe: “We have seen a shift in brand dollars to more performance-based approaches, retail media networks being the latest area of focus. However, I believe that this trend will soon become consolidated and brands will still need to find advertising opportunities that deliver high value from their brand investments, and video is the chosen media for this (sound on, full screen, able to capture emotional connection with the viewer). That’s why I’m very excited for the attention given to mobile in-app gaming.”

Kelly O’Mara, director of global brand partnerships, Wattpad: “I think there is still lots of room for growth and innovation when it comes to UGC Marketing and for brands and partners to think outside the box when it comes to campaigns.”

Bruce Gersh, COO and co-founder, 11:11 Media: “There is always more room for advertisers to provide true value authentically. Brands should focus on providing value and serving their customers. Brands also should focus on innovative ways that audiences are consuming their content.”

Ann Hailer, president of broadcast, Locality: “There is still room for advertisers to engage with brands, agencies, and especially consumers, at the local broadcast level. There is a unique relationship that local broadcast has with consumers, as a result of building connections backed by trust. These sources have a deep understanding of what information resonates with viewers, and they know the best way to truthfully interact with them because most of the time, they’re members of the same community. Viewers trust ads shown in local spots, thus creating a halo effect that brands and agencies can use to their advantage.”

Jon Schulz, CMO, Viant: “While AI is already seeing tremendous experimentation, there is still plenty of runway to engage, evolve and innovate collectively around areas such as bid optimization, big data and analytics, campaign optimization and more. Additionally, sustainability in advertising has been a prominent theme in 2023, and while there has been a lot of progress in this area this year, there remains a lot of opportunity to grow and make more of an impact. It will become increasingly important for brands and advertisers to engage with technology partners that prioritize sustainability as this has also become important for consumers as they continue to favor environmentally-conscious brands.”

Chris Erb, founder & managing partner, Tripleclix: “It’s about showing up in unique and different ways, breaking through the rising noise and clutter.”



Throughout the week, the Penn District – formerly the Manhattan Mall – was decked out with brand activations and high-tech interactions.

Over at Netflix Plaza, booths dedicated to the streamer’s all-new “Beckham” documentary series, “Streams and Screams” costume displays from popular Netflix series, hard copies of books from adapted series, and more invited attendees into their corner of the four-floored event.

Speaking of swag, one attendee pointed me in the direction of can’t-miss experiences, crediting NBCUniversal’s Café Olympique as the best activation of the week. In a nod to the Paris Olympics 2024, NBCU handed out chocolate croissants and macaroons, and offered the chance to snap a photo with popular Olympic athletes with the help of AR.

Canva’s Brandgesa had made-to-order fresh juices with personalized labels — encouraging everyone to “Get [their] creative juices flowin’!”

TikTok’s installation recreated the setting that launched Internet sensation Tube Girl (Sabrina Bahsoon) into stardom: the London tube. Participants received TikTok branded tote bags and were able to see themselves in a full-length mirror that resembled the platform’s For You page.

The Google Pit Stop highlighted the tech giant’s partnership with McLaren Racing, the Formula 1 team. Surrounding a real McLaren race car, attendees were able to get behind the wheel of a videogame setup and “multiply [their] connections” by learning about the power of AI. By the time the race was over, everyone walked out with bright orange McLaren Racing caps.

In a session with iSpot’s Leslie Wood and Alan Wolk of TVREV, Wolk said, “The measurement evolution is like the fall of the Soviet Union: How we’re approaching a free market at a time when people aren’t used to it and don’t like change.” Replied Wood, “I want to be fair, Alan. Don’t equate Nielsen with Russia.”

Or course, it’s not over ‘til it’s over – and that happens with a wrap party and performance by Nelly tonight. See you next year!

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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