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Advanced Advertising: Local OTT in Growth Mode

(From l.): Moderator Daniel Punt leads a conversation with Premion's Dave Marquard, Gamut Smart Media from Cox's Adam Gaynor, MadHive's Joe Marino, Atmosphere's Jack Mollins, and Fox Television Stations' Tom Fleming during the Growing Local OTT panel at the Advanced Advertising Summit.
(From l.): Moderator Daniel Punt leads a conversation with Premion's Dave Marquard, Gamut Smart Media from Cox's Adam Gaynor, MadHive's Joe Marino, Atmosphere's Jack Mollins, and Fox Television Stations' Tom Fleming during the Growing Local OTT panel at the Advanced Advertising Summit. (Image credit: Future)

The panel “Growing Local OTT” looked at how local media is supplementing linear commercials with targeted digital advertising. Panelists said the local platforms give national brands a more intimate relationship with consumers. Adam Gaynor, chief revenue officer of Cox Media Group’s Gamut Smart Media, said, “Local advertising is what allows brands to have conversations with communities.”

Asked about the pitfalls of advertising via connected TV, Dave Marquard, head of product at Premion, put fraud at the top of the list, calling it “a significant issue in CTV.”

Gamut Smart Media is “a direct sales business,” offered Gaynor, with key relationships among publishers. That means he does not have to worry about third-party platforms where fraud might pop up. Gaynor mentioned a “brand-safe environment, a fraud-less environment.”

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The panel was part of the Advanced Advertising Summit during L.A. TV Week. Daniel Punt, senior managing director at FTI Consulting, moderated. 

Marquard spoke of the importance of transparency in OTT transactions, down to the channel and the device. “I demand transparency in what I’m buying,” he said. 

The panelists said the OTT community is growing so large that it can no longer be ignored by advertisers. “We understand that you’re only going to connect with a portion of our local audience,” said Tom Fleming, senior VP of sales at Fox Television Stations. Previously, he added, the OTT audience might be overlooked. Today, “we’re embracing it.”

Joe Marino, head of client success organization at MadHive, said local is not a very sexy category, but it’s getting there. As connected TV gets larger, “it’s pushing local five years into the future faster,” he said. “I do think CTV has expedited the local markets’ adoption of digital.”

Midterm political spending should expedite things as well. “There’s going to be a lot of inventory missing in the linear world in a few months,” said Gaynor. “CTV offers an opportunity for political money coming in.”

The onrush of political spend also encourages the non-political vendors to reserve their air time, panelists said, before they are squeezed out. 

When considering OTT platforms, panelists said scale and measurement are prime factors. “You should demand [measurement capability] from whoever you’re buying from,” said Marquard. 

Jack Mollins, senior VP of North American ad sales at Atmosphere, said “efficiency plus scale” is the winning combo. 

It’s on ad firms to educate local business owners, well versed in buying linear spots, on the merits of OTT, according to Mollins. “They’ve been buying local TV forever,” he said. “Educating them on this is another opportunity for you.”

The panelists were asked how a recession might affect the local OTT business. “I think no one will be immune to a recession,” said Fleming. 

A recession would likely contract the number of outfits fighting for local spend. “There are so many players in the space,” Marino said. “If we hit a recession, we’ll see who comes out of it.” 

The panelists agreed that connected TV will continue to grow. “Consumers are choosing this,” said Fleming. “It’s here to stay.” ■

Michael Malone
Michael Malone

Michael Malone, senior content producer at B+C/Multichannel News, covers network programming, including entertainment, news and sports on broadcast, cable and streaming; and local broadcast television. He hosts the podcasts Busted Pilot, about what’s new in television, and Series Business, a chat with the creator of a new program, and writes the column “The Watchman.” He joined B+C in 2005. His journalism has also appeared in The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Playboy and New York magazine.