Data Shows Digital Video Is Tougher Rival for TV

NEW YORK — There was data, data everywhere at the Digital NewFronts as digital media companies aimed to convince advertisers to spend more on sponsoring streaming programming.

(From l.): Daddy Yankee, Lilly Singh, YouTube chief business officer Robert Kyncl and Alicia Keys at the YouTube Brandcast 2019 at New York’s Radio City Music Hall.

(From l.): Daddy Yankee, Lilly Singh, YouTube chief business officer Robert Kyncl and Alicia Keys at the YouTube Brandcast 2019 at New York’s Radio City Music Hall.

Broadcast and cable networks have been looking to use data to more precisely target ad campaigns as TV viewing shrinks and commercials get more expensive. But NewFront presenters said they have better information about viewers and their networks are addressable, making them able to send the right messages to the right consumers.

Among the presenters at last week’s gatherings were giant retailers Walmart and Target, both of which are looking to boost media businesses based on data they gather from the people who shop in their stores.

“We invite you to leverage our first-part shopper data by delivering highly relevant and accountable advertising,” Walmart Media Group general manager Stefanie Jay said. “We know how people shop on an unparalleled scale.”

Vudu Adds Originals

At its presentation, Walmart said it was adding original series programming to its on-demand, ad-supported video service Vudu. It said it would be the first to show the new version of Blue’s Clues, even before Nickelodeon, and would have series featuring actress Evangeline Lilly and produced by Queen Latifah.

During the shows, Vudu will be running a limited number of commercials. It also runs shoppable ads, which pop up on the screen, can be clicked on with a remote control and are directly connected to the viewer’s account.

More importantly, Walmart knows what its viewers buy and can tell an advertiser if an ad campaign resulted in more of their product being bought in Walmart stores or at And soon, advertisers will be able to use Walmart data to buy ads and evaluate campaigns on other over-the-top networks.

Target told a similar story. The retailer last week renamed its media business Roundel.

Roundel will send “the right ad to the right people at the right time on the right channels, whether that be on our Target platforms or off platform with other publishers,” said Kristi Argyilan, president of Roundel.

“We’re not just operating a retail media network,” Argyilan said, adding that Roundel is putting marketer messages into non-Target channels, including display, social, audio or even linear TV, based on shopper data.

YouTube pointed to its huge number of users and said the engagement it generates helps advertisers sell products. Alan Thygersen, president, Americas, for Google, pointed to statistics showing that YouTube was able to generate incremental reach for campaigns with much lower frequency levels than TV. Google Preferred campaigns also generate great sales per impression than TV.

As a result, “we should all be allocating a lot more to YouTube,” Thygersen told media buyers and clients attending its Brandcast.

YouTube said its originals, including Karate Kid sequel Cobra Kai, would all have ad-support windows where they’re not behind a paywall.

Viewer Data on Display

Hulu also showed off how much it knows about its viewers. Research head Jaya Kolhatkar said nearly 50% of ad-supported hours of viewing on Hulu are spent binge-watching and 40% of Hulu viewers binge more than one series each month.

Naturally, Hulu is creating an ad format designed to appear when viewers are binging shows. Binge ads are personalized and a sponsor could offer to let the viewer see the next episode of a show they’re watching without ads.

Hulu ad sales head Peter Naylor said that Hulu’s 58 million ad-supported viewers include 21 million cord-cutters and cord-nevers that can’t be reached via traditional TV.

“Now’s the time to shift even more of your budget to Hulu,” Naylor said.

Viacom apparently feels that if you can’t beat them, join them. It has been building up its digital offering, capped this year with the acquisition of ad-supported Pluto TV. Viacom is adding 14 new channels to Pluto TV, based on brands like Comedy Central and BET.

By putting its content on new platforms, Viacom will again be able to help marketers reach growing number of young viewers who have cut the cord with traditional TV. With Pluto TV, Viacom expects to grow its number of digital impressions per month to 5 billion by next year.

“We have made incredible strides over the past year due to our acquisitions and expansion to grow our digital reach significantly to the direct benefit of our advertising partners,” Viacom head of ad solutions Sean Moran said. “With more touchpoints than ever before, we look forward to leveraging the full scale and power of Viacom to help our clients create real, authentic connections with our highly coveted and hard-to-reach young audiences wherever they are.”

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.