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Advanced Advertising Summit: Group M’s Gerber Says Measurement Still Key in Advanced Ad Evolution

Adam Gerber of GroupM at 2022 Advanced Advertising Summit
Group M executive director, U.S. investment strategy Adam Gerber (Image credit: Mark Reinertson)

As streaming video tightens its grip on the way consumers view and engage with content, advertisers need to find ways to effectively measure audiences in the new paradigm, while at the same time remain flexible in how they sell ads beyond traditional pods and shows, Group M executive director, U.S. investment strategy Adam Gerber said at the Advanced Advertising Summit, leading off NYC TV Week

Measurement has been a major concern for advertisers, networks and buyers for years as streaming has further fragmented viewership. Gerber, who kicked off his speech by comparing the current ad environment to the Doomsday Glacier (opens in new tab) — the massive sheet of arctic ice that is expected to play havoc with world sea levels — said fragmentation is much different today, promoting the need for the industry to work together to find effective solutions.

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Gerber, in a fireside chat with B+C Multichannel News business editor Jon Lafayette, said that in the past, fragmentation meant more distribution choices — hundreds of cable channels versus four broadcasters — but could still be measured via passive panels. With impression-based advertising, measurement becomes dependent on publishers implementing tags or conducting server-to-server integration with measurement companies, which most publishers choose to avoid.  

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“That’s the growing problem, as measurement is dependent on a publisher or a media company deploying either an SDK, server-to-server integration or a tag, as soon as one of the big ones decides not to participate in that, you don’t have a view of the marketplace,” Gerber said.

But the answer isn’t necessarily having a new measurement currency for the industry, Gerber said, adding that every advertiser will have a different way to evaluate the marketplace and do deals with publishers. Whether that is through attention metrics, audience based metrics or something else depends on the size of the advertiser. But he does believe that the industry needs a common way to size the overall market.

As streaming becomes more prevalent — Nielsen reported that streaming video share surpassed cable and broadcast for the first time ever during the month of July — Gerber said questions around ad capacity and valuation become more important. That gap could widen as Netflix and Disney Plus unveil the ad-supported versions of their respective services. Gerber said while streaming’s dominance may be a little questionable on the ad-supported side — he said about half of streaming subs are in non-ad-supported services — those that do air ads do so with less frequency. 

The typical linear network airs 16 minutes to 18 minutes of ads every hour, Gerber estimated. For streamers, that ad load drops to between three minutes and seven minutes each hour. That works out to a 60% decline in ad capacity, meaning that every streaming ad impression has to work harder. 

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The solution, he said, isn’t in returning to the old model — something that will never happen, he believes — but in finding new ways to squeeze money out of ad impressions.

“The challenge for streaming companies is to find the right balance,” Gerber said. “It might not be pods and shows. It might be much more tied to some of the things tied to the streaming space, things like voice navigation, things like commerce, things like sponsor-based models in delivery of programming. I think we have to have a creative renaissance in the streaming space to find new ways to engage consumers in ways that don’t tick them off. I think we’re just getting around to it.” ■

Mike Farrell is senior content producer, finance for Multichannel News/B+C, covering finance, operations and M&A at cable operators and networks across the industry. He joined Multichannel News in September 1998 and has written about major deals and top players in the business ever since. He also writes the On The Money blog, offering deeper dives into a wide variety of topics including, retransmission consent, regional sports networks,and streaming video. In 2015 he won the Jesse H. Neal Award for Best Profile, an in-depth look at the Syfy Network’s Sharknado franchise and its impact on the industry.