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INTX 2016: Lots Going On in Advanced Advertising, But Still Fragmented

BOSTON -- The video advertising landscape remains awash in technological advancements that individually advance its constituent parts, but still don’t quite give advertisers a holistic sense of audience -- or give viewers reasons to keep watching, said participants in an Imagine Park session Tuesday afternoon.

“Everyone is popping APIs [Application Program Interfaces],” observed Rhodes Mason, president of Internet Archive LLC, which makes sure online video ads play out from source to screen without glitches, so that viewers don’t bail out. “Look at all of us here -- [4C] is doing social, [Place Media] is doing programmatic linear, [Watchwith] is doing in-program, and [Amdocs] is doing stuff with subscriber data,” he said of the session’s participants. 

Nonetheless, forward progress still requires a way to pull it all together so that advertisers gain a bigger view of the audience they’re trying to reach, in a way that engages audiences. “That’s the challenge as we move forward.”

The demo-heavy session, hosted by Cross MediaWorks’ COO and CTO Stephanie Mitchko (pictured), dug deeply into what works to justify CPMs, including the role of analytics, measurement, reporting, and whether content or the audience is the bigger driver for success.

Internet Archive LLC builds software that tracks online video advertising interactions in real time, to track the end-to-end flight delivery. “If there’s something wrong with the ad source, we’ll see that and switch to another one in real time,” Rhodes said. “It’s about looking, minute to minute, to see which [advertisements] will give you the best revenue and user experience. It’s a manual process now, that we’re trying to make automated.”

Zane Vella, CEO of Watchwith -- which optimizes the “beyond Nielsen / day four-plus” segment -- noted that the broadcast television upfronts “may be in a moment of over-correction,” as premium TV networks position themselves as “audience companies” focused on audience data. “That goes a step too far,” he said, because media buyers are looking for more than that out of premium content. “It’s about transporting audiences into a receptive state of mind.”

One way to measure audience interest is at the intersection of TV and social media, said Aaron Goldman, CMO of 4C, who called the combination “the most synchronized media channel ever.” The company analyzes 1.5 billion social media users, mapping their interactions across 250,000 interests and 50,000 brands, Goldman said. It does so via APIs with Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and LinkedIn, to track TV across 2,100 channels in 76 countries.

“What advertisers really want is the precision and optimization of digital, with brand-building power and broad reach of TV, said Derek Mattson, President of Placemedia, which represents a part of the advertising ecosystem that aggregates multiple consumer databases and real-time viewing behaviors from 16 million set-tops, so as to intelligently target audiences. 

“Next year (2017) will be the breakout year for one-to-one addressability,” Mattson predicted. “By 2018, that’s when you’ll see the omni-channel buys -- to place a buy in one placem and get online, mobile, linear TV and addressable all in one place. To me, that’s the holy grail.”

The holy grail for on-demand: The ability, as a consumer, to select one targeted, personalized advertisement to watch while binge-watching -- as opposed to the 20 ad minutes slotted into an hour of programming, said Rick Howe, the “ITV Doctor,” representing Amdocs.

“As an industry, we’ve been talking for years, and we get hung up on the fancy-schmancy targeting, bringing in data, personalizing,” Howe said. “Meanwhile, we’re sitting on mountains of data,” which could be harnessed to create a single advertisement, tailored to a viewer’s interest, “where the advertiser pays enough to warrant the network or operator stripping out those other 12 minutes of rather meaningless ads, instead putting in one that provides interactivity and and a design to take action.”