The conversation was led by Adweek’s Digital Media Reporter, Sami Main, and was hosted at Roku’s new office near Times Square. Panelists included OTT advertising experts: Greg Isaacs, chief product & marketing officer, Branded Entertainment Network (BEN); Renee Plato, SVP of media solutions & innovation, Nielsen; Scott Rosenberg, GM & SVP of advertising, Roku; and John Caldwell, SVP of business development & legal affairs, Synacor. Kite Hill PR’s CEO & Founder, Tiffany Guarnaccia, introduced the panelists and kicked off the event.
After a quick show of hands, we noted quite a mix of viewing behaviors in the room. Leading the poll were traditional TV and OTT viewers, followed by cord-cutters and a handful of cord-nevers. Our audience’s answers demonstrate the changing viewing behaviors of consumers and the complexities advertisers now face when trying to reach them.
The panel discussion uncovered some key trends: TV consumption is still on the uptick but the devices on which we consume video continue to vary; there is a massive need for the monetization of content across channels.
Streaming Is Evolving Rapidly but TV is Still Coming Out On Top
Our experts began the conversation with the infamous industry debate, “is TV dead?” With the increased adoption of streaming, many have argued that the TV industry is coming to an end. Plato explained, “TV is being consumed at higher levels than ever before. When looking at all screens and devices, TV is on the uptick."
While most agreed with Plato, Isaacs shared an opposing view with the audience encouraging brands to act now to alter their OTT advertising approach, “Product integration is key for advertisers. The world of advertising is changing. There is a small window of opportunity for brands to take advantage of this land grab. Amazon is doing it now with 100% of Amazon originals incorporating product integration. Brands need to start experimenting with product integration now."
Rosenberg was in agreement with Plato on the healthy state of TV advertising but also agreed with Isaacs, "If you’re betting on transition and investing in new advertising models or producing content, you’re on the right side [preparing for the future]."
Content Is Still King and Distribution Is Queen
Panelists were quick to note just how rapidly the media landscape is changing. As Isaacs said, “Platforms aren’t emerging, they’re winning.” He went on to address the changes occurring saying, “People will consume media in a lot of different ways and in ways we haven’t even thought about yet.”
The quality of content that exists today is greater than ever before. Caldwell explained the appeal of OTT saying, “OTT enables consumers to access video content where they want, when they want and on what platform.” Rosenberg added that the changes taking place could lead to the idea that, “OTT and TV will be synonymous in just a few short years.”
As our experts discussed the importance of this, they also noted that brands and advertisers must adapt quickly to these changes. Rosenberg addressed the importance of the 18-34 demographic, “[This demo] watches traditional TV with much less frequency. We should be thinking about when this demo is the dominant purchasing power and how to best reach them.”
Isaacs offered another solution saying, “Product integration is key for advertisers. The world of advertising is changing. There is a small window of opportunity for brands to take advantage of this land grab."
It’s a Great Time to Be a Consumer
It’s a great time to be a consumer with nearly endless options of what to watch, when and where. TV has created great opportunity up and down the value chain. Isaacs again stressed the “dynamic media landscape” and the importance of placing smart bets on the future of OTT, because “no one really knows what’s going to happen next.”
As the discussion came to a close, all participants agreed that one thing the future of viewing experiences must accomplish is simplification. As Plato said, “being able to navigate devices is clunky today.” Instead we need to find a “more elegant viewing experience across a single device platform.”
Rosenberg ended by addressing the importance of adtech in OTT saying we must, “crack the code around monetizing user attention in this new world.”