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Putting Ad Money in Linear or Streaming Networks Isn’t an Either/or Proposition, Says Comcast’s James Rooke

James Rooke of Comcast Advertising Sales at Advanced Advertising Summit 2022
Comcast Advertising president James Rooke (Image credit: Mark Reinertson)

Comcast Advertising president James Rooke called the notion that advertisers must choose between putting their money into linear or streaming networks but not both a “false narrative” at the Advanced Advertising Summit Monday, adding that only through collaboration will advanced ad tech get the boost it needs. 

“I think there is a narrative out there at the moment that says hey, you should be putting money in linear or streaming, and it’s an either or, I think that’s a false narrative,” Rooke said at the event, part of NYC TV Week. “The reason for that is because if you’re an advertiser, then ultimately you’re looking to reach your audience, get the maximum reach possible, the most efficient reach possible wherever those viewers are.”

Also: Comcast Finds Campaign Reach Peaks With 20%-30% of Spend on Streaming (opens in new tab) 

In the U.S. that means going after viewers with traditional TV, satellite, cable and telco video service, as well as cord-cutters who are getting video from streaming SVOD, FAST and AVOD providers.

“If you’re just buying CTV, then you're isolating a large portion of the population, and that seems problematic,” Rooke said. 

Rooke added that although it is clear that traditional linear TV is declining, it still represents the larger piece of the viewing audience and will for the foreseeable future.

“Our view is that traditional linear TV will remain a foundation for a cross-screen campaign,” Rooke added. “We think between 20% and 30% of budgets should be moved into streaming.”

Also: Group M's Gerber Says Measurement is Still Key to Ad Evolution (opens in new tab) 

In that scenario, linear TV starts to slag off with lighter viewing households. That’s where streaming comes in, he said. According to Rooke, dollars spent on streaming gets 2.5 times better performance and spending dollars on live streaming results in 2.5 times better performance in light TV households. 

“The point is, it’s not a choice of either/or,” Rooke said. “It is how you better plan and then manage optimization of delivery across the fragmented distribution points that you’ve got that’s going to get you to a better outcome.”

Rooke also championed collaboration between streaming and traditional TV outlets, pointing to Comcast’s recent partnership with Charter Communications for its Flex TV (opens in new tab) streaming service. 

Other pearls of wisdom from the Comcast executive included:

  • Better measurement is needed, but Comcast isn’t choosing sides. Rooke said that while measurement may be “broken,” Comcast “is not in the business of picking a winner.” Instead, Rooke said Comcast would rather help stimulate competition and innovation. “We don't want to replace Nielsen, we believe in a multi-currency world that is solving for cross screen. … From a data standpoint, we are willing to have conversations with players to be able to license aggregated viewership data to them, in spirit helping them to solve for that problem.”
  • The midterm elections are going to play a big role in Advanced Advertising’s success. Rooke estimated ad revenue from the mid-terms could be $10 billion higher than the 2020 presidential election or about 3.5 times bigger than the last midterm elections. “It’s the strongest category by far,” he said. “We’re gearing up for the window that’s coming up.” He said Comcast is aiming to try to get more of the dollars that overwhelmingly go to local broadcast TV stations.
  • Rooke sees the biggest challenge for advanced advertising going forward is the “significant” amount of backend transfer work that needs to take place going forward. “There’s a lot of engine room work that needs to get done to be able to bring the industry to the promised land,” he said. NYC TV Week continues with the Next TV Summit and Hispanic Television Summit. ■ 

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.