CES 2018: As World Turns Digital TV Ads Remain Powerful

Las Vegas -- Technology will keep changing the media landscape but, for now, TV is still the 800-pound gorilla, particularly when it comes to advertising, according to a panel at CES Tuesday.

Brendan Ripp, executive VP for sales and partnerships at National Geographic, said that shortly after taking the job at the 21st Century Fox unit, he was invited onto the sales floor for Fox Broadcasting the day before Game 7 of the 2016 World Series.

In a few hours Fox sold more advertising than the most popular website at Time Inc., where Ripp previously worked, generated all year.

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“It’s still the 800-pound gorillia,” he said during a panel titled TV in the Age of Digital, noting that when something has got to be sold, TV sells it.

Still, Ripp said, companies like NatGeo need to create custom solutions for clients and do them at scale. NatGeo worked with Nike on a project last year covering the effort by Nike runners to beat the 2 hour mark in the marathon. The content has been distributed at scale across the world and translated into 41 langauges.

“TV is alive and well. It’s just being redefined, redefined by viewers,” said Peter Naylor, senior VP, ad sales at Hulu.

“It would be great if the consumer did what they were supposed to do, just watch at 8 p.m, said Mark Marshall, executive VP, entertainment advertising sales for NBCUniversal. Now overnight ratings are just the starting point for figuring out how many people watch a show.

NBC this season brought back Will & Grace. When it first ran, its overnight ratings were higher than they are now, but when you look at the first full week of viewing after an episode airs, 33% more people watch Will & Grace now each week than in 2006.

Marshall noted that NBCU views the new platforms where its content is being watched as complementary and bringing in new audiences. It also doesn’t discriminate in terms of sales. “As long as we have it on a platform where we can measure and monetize it, it works for us.”

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NBCU has also been active in using data and technology in media sales. “Our media sales team wants to make it as easy as possible for clients to buy us,” said Marshall. That includes opening up NBC’s inventory to audience buying and programmatic sales.

The technology “allows our client to be smarter about what they’re buying,” he said. “We feel great about our scale. We’re going to build reach.”

“Technology has a way of changing the game quite a bit,” said Andrew Casale, president and CEO of Index Exchange. “At this point the only aspect of TV that has really been disrupted is the idea of appointment based consumption.”

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But he said other aspects of the world are being radically changed by technology—we’ll be seeing self driving cars soon. “The world we work in is going to dramatically change in the years ahead.”

Jon Lafayette

Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.