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NYC TV Week: Panel Says Advanced Ad Budgets Growing, But Education Still Needed

New York -- A panel of top advanced advertising executives were optimistic about growing ad budgets, but added that educating advertisers about the benefits of targeting and other advanced products is still a top priority at the NYC TV Week Advanced Advertising event Monday.

Denise Colella, NBCUniversal SVP advanced advertising products & strategy, advertising sales, said that in some cases advanced ad budgets are doubling and tripling depending on the platform.

“We have 19 million households that come to us through the Comcast footprint, and now we have the 10 million households in Hulu that we are adding to that, so we are increasing our scale there,” Colella said at the panel session. “As the budgets grow, we’re also seeing the number of clients grow. We definitely see the increase in budgets, the increase in brands and the increase in segments. Clients are understanding how to use addressable and what that means.”

Read More:Complete Coverage of NYC TV Week

But other potential clients are holding back on opening their wallets to advanced advertisers. At Ampersand, CEO Nicolle Pangis said that part of the problem is that the industry is still at an early stage of the game.

“We’re probably in the bottom of the first inning or the top of the second inning,” Pangis said. “We’ve made a lot of progress but it’s not an easy problem to solve.”

Pangis said that marketers that are in it for the long haul will have the most success.

“Players are working together much better to try to solve for some of these pieces of the process to get to better scale,” Pangis said. “Where brands are leaning in and accepting the fact that we’re not going to have 100% success in everything that we do together, they are leaning in more and more and having success. There are some brands that are a bit skittish and if one thing goes wrong they pull back. I think those are the brands that are going to be behind.”

Nielsen Advanced Video Advertising Group general manager Kelly Abcarian said the measurement giant has been focused on its Total Audience initiative and now the industry should concentrate on how to unify measurement across platforms and sources. She added that a key part of that will be in ensuring that every segment of an audience is accounted for.

Audiences are changing drastically. Abcarian said 40% of the population is multicultural today, and that by 2044 more than 50% of the U.S. population will be black, Hispanic and Asian-American.

“If we don’t take great care in ensuring that the measurement is inclusive, you will be leaving audiences out,” she said, adding that relying solely on big data to measure audiences is a mistake.

Abcarian pointed to an experiment Nielsen conducted not too long ago that measured viewers of the hit Fox broadcast show Empire, one measurement that was based solely on big data and the other on a combination of big data and panel information. Had Nielsen based its rating solely on big data, Empire would have fallen from the 16th highest rated show to the 38th spot.

“That is an audience that is 75% multicultural,” Abcarian said. “When you also look at where some of the rating composition is made up of, over the air homes, it falls third in the ranker in terms of the audience for Empire. There is a lot of ways that consumers are getting content today and needs to be brought together to ensure that everyone is being counted.”

But after many false starts in the past, advanced advertising may be ready for its close up. 4C CEO Lance Neuhaser said that as time demands increase, people are put under more pressure and desire more personalization. But increased personalization also raises questions about privacy, data protection and transparency.

“There are very few environments that can put personalization, business results, transparency and privacy in the same ecosystem and still allow the fruits of labor to be picked,” Neuhauser said.

The panelists also didn’t seem to believe that even as the industry moves toward more sophisticated targeting and placement of ads, digital giants like Amazon and Google were their chief competitors. But they warned that in the event of a big economic shift, they could become a major factor in the space.

Neuhauser warned that advertisers and agencies have to be wary of the overall economic situation, adding that in past recessions, the ad market was dominated by new players that tapped into the prevailing zeitgeist.

Neuhauser said the last two major economic shifts gave rise to both Google and Facebook respectively in the ad space because they gave companies a source for addressability, measurement and targeting at scale. The next bear market may serve as a petri dish for a new player, or be an opportunity for advanced ad players to step up to the stage.

“As economic changes come about, unless these advanced advertising practices are more prominent across all the TV inventory supply chain, it is going to be the natural inclination for the CFO to want to put more money into those digital sources,” Neuhauser said. "Unless we continue to make progress, it might be a third group that ends up rising up from the digital sector, or just more strength to the first two that will inevitably continue to eat up the dollars that makes it harder and harder to put more dollars into what will be a solid advanced advertising investment opportunity.”