LAS VEGAS - Fewer but more impactful and relevant ads per commercial break aren't going to happen overnight. But it's the beginning of a road the industry must start to travel so as not to lose both current and future viewers of linear television.
This was the consensus of media sellers and audience targeting specialists who participated in a Beet.TV panel discussion about commercial loads during CES 2017 held at the OMD Oasis at The Venetian. Moderator Matt Spiegel of MediaLink began by asking panelists what the TV world might look like five years from now, given the low tolerance many people have for watching commercials in the digital realm and their ability to avoid them via subscription services.
Kristin Dolan, CEO of 605, which provides data-driven, census-based audience measurement solutions, commended Turner Broadcasting's drive to reduce commercial load. "I think it puts the customer first to say were not going to jam however many minutes in an hour," said Dolan. Observing that "advertising is part of our existence, it's not going anywhere," Dolan said she doesn't perceive outright antipathy toward advertising. "The more relevant the advertising is the more it actually could have a positive impact on the brand that's surrounding the ad that's being presented," she said.
"We take a long-term view," said Michael Strober, EVP, Client Strategy & Ad Innovation at Turner, before citing audience demographics showing how much people ages 18 to 24 watch on-demand programming as opposed to live TV. "What's going to happen five to ten years from now when they are largely the key audience that most of our clients want to reach? If they go to linear TV and it still looks like it does today, we're going to lose them."
The key is to start to figure out now how to show fewer commercials "but each exposure or opportunity is incredibly impactful to the marketer and ultimately to the consumer," Strober said.
Jonathan Steuer, Chief Research Officer at Omnicom Media Group, noted that the main objection to digital ads is their intrusiveness. It's not that consumers don't understand the value exchange at play when watching ad-supported content, according to Steuer.
"I think part of it is just about having a reasonable conversation with consumers at scale and looking at the data about what's working and what's not working and adjusting the mix accordingly," said Steuer.
Asked by Spiegel to imagine a TV world in which ad delivery and performance is based on impressions as opposed to units, Denise Colella, SVP, Advanced Ad Products & Strategy at NBCUniversal, said "It's just a matter of time. In a couple more years the television on the wall will be able to deliver advertising in the same way that you get it on your phone or that you're getting it on your tablet or on your laptop."
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