A version of this post originally appeared on Ad Age.
TV’s evolution is accelerating with a flurry of M&A activity in the marketplace. Disney and Comcast are pursuing 21st Century Fox in an effort to add a wealth of content to their already potent arsenals; IPG is acquiring Acxiom Marketing Solutions in a nod to the increasing importance of data, and AT&T is fortifying itself with ad tech from AppNexus after completing its acquisition of Time Warner.
This activity, driven by a need to simplify advertising by strengthening the connections between content, data and platform, is a clear signal that TV has begun to evolve. We are entering the data-driven, technology-rich future of TV advertising.
But mergers and acquisitions in and among themselves are only one step toward this next-generation, vibrant ecosystem. While consolidation will promise scale and simplicity to a data-driven buying experience, delivering on that integration will take time. More importantly, a thriving marketplace is more than just a consolidated one; it’s one where agencies and advertisers have an abundance of innovations from which to choose as they create next-generation, data-driven brand campaigns to engage modern audiences.
The current dynamics in the TV industry should be viewed as an opportunity for more open collaboration, a moment to initiate change to make all pieces of the ecosystem work better together in service of the advertiser. After all, those who know the benefits of television are in the best position to initiate change and bring new partners into the mix.
TV Advertisers require choice
No two brand campaigns are alike. Audience targets differ, messaging changes, offers vary based on seasonality, measurement of success is connected to the business imperative of a given time. What will serve the industry best is introducing new ideas through a marketer’s lens and prioritizing accordingly.
And marketers’ priorities are clear–they require a unified view of television. As Comcast’s Marcien Jenckes said recently, something needs to happen in order to unify television so marketers can buy in an easier way than they have in the past. “The idea that the industry coalesces on standards and technology, that for certain is a necessity,” he added.
Marketers’ data-driven campaigns call for integrations with campaign systems and TV order systems to provide one view of audiences and campaigns. They need supply sources to enable a single planning, ad execution and reporting workflow. Marketers must have access to innovative options from which to build the best campaign for a particular goal, whether it’s testing a new data segment or refining a media mix between audience-indexed and addressable inventory types.
The new TV economy will grow. And as it grows, assets will be monetized when advertisers have the creative freedom to pick and choose the data and technology building blocks that are right for them. No one platform does everything.
There will be no single partner or stack to solve every brand’s marketing challenges. Instead, the collective innovation and experience across a unified set of partners can provide choice and customization options that allow advertiser creativity to extend into this new era of TV.
While there will likely be winners and losers as the industry evolves, the next generation of TV is not a zero-sum game. So as parts of the industry consolidate, let’s use this time of coming together as a chance to strengthen the connections in the ecosystem with a singular goal of meeting advertisers’ needs. Advertisers need collaborative solutions, not single stacks.
For more on the TV’s evolution, see Cadent CEO Nick Troiano’s post, “The Next Chapter of TV Is Just Beginning.”