Video Essentials

The Digital Future Is Just About Here, But When Will it Arrive?

Online video advertising and our shared digital future has taken on a greater prominence at this year’s Advertising Week New York, but when exactly the future will get here is up for debate.

At the session “Ready, Set, TV!,” Walt Horstman, president of TiVo, set the scene for how far the industry has already come.

The Digital Future

Ed Davis of Fox Networks Group and Seth Walters of Roku at Advertising Week New York.

“We can do truly personalized recommendations and content marketing strategies,” Horstman said. It’s a win-win-win scenario, he noted, where consumers get the content they want, marketers get more data, and content providers surface more of their catalogs.

But improved ad tech lets TiVo do more just deliver personalized experiences. The company is seeing interesting usage patterns in how consumers watch different types of video on different devices throughout the day, Horstman said.

“We all live in a world that has a lot of noise,” said Steve Mandala, president for advertising sales and marketing at Univision. Simplifying is a challenge, but also leads to better results. The big problem he sees now is the lack of a common vernacular. Different providers offer similar options, but wrapped in different terms. When the entire industry agrees on common terms, that will help grow viewer targeting.

Mandala and Horstman agreed that digital video is leading the way to this highly targeted digital future, and has forced traditional TV to get more sophisticated about viewer targeting.

For Tal Chalozin, CTO and co-founder of Innovid, today’s ad tech carries some baggage that keeps the industry a few steps away from reaching its digital future.

“We are just beginning to understand the power that OTT is going to have across this ecosystem,” Horstman agreed.

For Fox, today’s big challenge is how to harness the viewer’s attention. Speaking on the panel “Win Big in the Connected Living Room,” Ed Davis, executive vice president and chief product officer for advertising products at Fox Networks Group, noted that attention is the only finite commodity. Publishers need to differentiate their viewing experiences and create ad products that make viewer attention the primary focus. His company is doing that by improving viewer targeting, reducing ad loads, and creating lean-in experiences.

“There’s a big responsibility for publishers…to recognize the real challenge that agencies have,” Davis said. The end goal isn’t to deliver attention, but to show that harnessing attention leads to better ad performance. The industry’s first goal was showing that impressions are an antiquated measure, he said, and that impressions don’t necessarily deliver performance. Now that people are on board with attention as a currency, the next goal is to prove that it performs, that it leads to improved real-world results.

“We have to improve the ad experience. It has to happen,” Davis said, noting that a large part of the younger demographic is leaving ad supported environments. They’re buying their time back by paying to avoid ads. “We have to figure out how to be more efficient with viewer attention,” he said. “If we don’t improve the viewer experience while also being more efficient with viewer attention…they’re going to disappear.”


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