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SpotX Identifies 2021 Trends for TV’s Post-Cable Era

A family watches content on multiple screens in their living room.
(Image credit: Eric Audras/Getty Images)

Addressable linear is ready for scale as TV enters a post cable era, according to SpotX, which put out its 2021 Global Video Advertising Trend report.

"With the incredible growth of digital TV and streaming in the past year, it’s evident that we are in the midst of the ‘connected decade,’ especially as viewership and adoption of connected TV and OTT continue to skyrocket,” said Mike Shehan, co-founder and CEO at SpotX. “Record numbers are tuning in, and at this rate, cord-cutting households are on track to eclipse traditional pay TV by 2024.”  

To compile its report, SpotX interviewed top execs from companies including Acxiom, AMC Networks, CCI, Discovery, Dish, GroupM, Samsung Ads, The Trade Desk and TransUnion, who make predictions about how technology will affect how ad dollars are spent in the new year. 

“As more linear TV inventory becomes available programmatically on both a local and national basis, the addressable opportunity for 2021 is one of precision at scale,” said Trade Desk GM strategic partnerships Jon Tabak, one of the executives who contributed to the report. “With programmatic advertising, brands can move beyond broad demographics and fuzzy indexing by leveraging first-party data in real time to  make their linear TV investment smarter and more effective. It also enables a more accurate link across media channels, ultimately informing brands of their TV investment’s role in driving real business outcomes.”

Five key trends were identified in the report. 

The accelerated shift in consumer viewing habits will expedite the development of a post-cable ecosystem. New subscription offerings from legacy giants are pulling more traditional TV households into the digital future.

Ad spend is following these new consumer habits and will flow into OTT and CTV faster than expected. Now that advertisers understand how to activate data for efficient audience targeting while still achieving scale in OTT, more advertisers will re-calibrate their media plans toward digital. CTV advertising in particular will grow rapidly in the U.S.

Device manufacturers have new opportunities to build their ad businesses, increase market share, and influence the viewer experience. The connected capabilities of smart TVs enable manufacturers to collect glass-level measurements and package that data for advertisers. Within the coming years, OEM players may generate more profit from data and advertising offerings than from device sales. 

With programmatic, addressable linear TV is ready for scale. There is a massive opportunity to apply digital technologies and audience data to make broadcast ads targetable and more relevant. With more inventory available programmatic TV spend is expected to reach $6.69 billion by 2021 in the U.S., up from $2.77 billion in 2019.

Data-layered campaigns will continue to become more prevalent with an increased focus on accuracy and measurable opportunities. In 2021, great progress will be made in standardizing measurement across CTV devices. Expect a surge in programmatic guaranteed campaigns.

Both the sell and buy sides will more thoroughly evaluate partners as supply and demand path optimization requirements increase in priority. This past year illuminated the need for brands and media owners to build more resilient value chains. Strategic leaders on both the sell and buy sides are looking to cull their vendor list and focus on fewer, trusted partnerships. 

“We have been working to implement an intelligent, scalable solution to help fuel the growth of addressable TV and it feels like we are finally at a tipping point as an industry, said AMC Networks senior VP advanced advertising and digital products Evan Adlman, another of the executives SpotX spoke with. “In 2021 and beyond, as advertisers are looking for the most return for their marketing dollars, the demand for targeted, customized opportunities, such as the ones that addressable presents, will increase exponentially. At AMC Networks, we are ready to step up and meet that demand, thanks to partners like SpotX."