Jim Tricarico, President of Sales and CRO of Cadent, kicked off our Future of TV Virtual Summit today with a simple, but clarifying example of how TV is changing: the kids who watched massively successful programs like The Kids’ Choice Awards 15 years ago have grown up, and they’re watching TV across many different devices and platforms.

And this year, TV has evolved at an even faster clip, accelerated by the pandemic.

More than 25 million people have cut the cord on linear TV, shifting viewing to various streaming services. So what are advertisers to do when TV has grown from broadcast and cable, to what feels like an endless stream (pun intended) of new acronyms? A veteran of the TV industry, Jim Tricarico, President of Sales and CRO of Cadent, posed a new question: “TV is not dead – it is far from dead. But what does TV mean today?” 

And that’s where we begin. TV in 2020 is a far cry from the TV of thirty years ago, let alone the past five. Jim was joined by Cathy Shaffner, Chief Investment Officer of Empower, the “Unholding Company,” to discuss how cross-channel TV campaigns have the power to help advertisers reach their target audiences. 

According to Jim, the TV marketplace currently offers three powerful features: flexibility, the ability to allow advertisers to shift budgets to follow their audiences; addressability, the refined targeting made possible by the advent of things like the device graph and viewer graph; and measurability, the results-driven media buying based on business outcomes of previous campaigns.

Consequently, Shaffner has found that, “It’s all about now finding the audience through that content versus through the channel.” No longer are advertisers going to reach their audience by simply “buying one night of TV or two nights of TV.” The landscape has changed and advertisers have come to expect flexibility, addressability and measurability. 

How can TV provide those all-important attributes with a fragmented landscape? Cathy proposes three keys to combating fragmentation:

Finding the right audience – Cathy said Empower spends an incredible amount of time working with its partners to marry robust and actionable first-party data with third-party data to “really identify the best customer.” 

Content is always king – “Marketing to your audience through the content that they’re consuming – and not through the channel or through the device that they’re using.”

Report to the report – “The business that we drive is all based on the measurement of everything that we do. …it’s not about reach or frequency anymore, as much as it’s about finding the audience in the right moment within their customer journey.” 

In addition to combatting fragmentation, transparency is another hurdle for marketers to overcome. As advertisers demand better reporting, they also expect more transparency into how their campaigns are run.

Cathy Shaffner, Chief Investment Officer, Empower: “Working alongside great partners like Cadent, to make sure that we set the rules of engagement upfront, making sure that the data’s putting us in the right place, helps us with brand safety and helps us with making sure we’re in the right environment for our clients.” 

Still, it’s important to note that, like most things, TV has experienced a dramatic shift within the past few months. As Jim mentions, “Before COVID, everybody was projecting five years out, before you saw a major change and shift from linear TV to OTT.” As we all know, that is no longer the case. The pandemic accelerated the shift to new modes of TV in ways no one predicted. 

“From an audience perspective, I think we’re going to have, as an industry, to really figure out what that new normal is based on what the pandemic has done. It’s going to leave a lasting impact on media consumption. Just think of ourselves as we’re sitting here having this this panel… This is going to become a new normal, even three years from now, as things change and get back in the future as a society, and we’re going to demand change as consumers in how we view the content,” said Cathy. 

And for Empower and other agencies, Cathy said, adaptability will be key – where you work, when you work, how you go to market, how you use data to find audiences, how you seek out content and how you change as the world changes.

Ultimately, the pandemic has raised more questions for the TV industry than it has answered. But in spite of the rapid pace of change, one thing is clear – TV isn’t going anywhere. While it may shift from screen to screen, platform to platform, video will continue to find new ways into consumers’ lives and advertisers’ media plans. 

Learn more about the future of data-driven TV advertising in our series, “Coming to Terms with TV Ad Terms.”

Posted by Cadent

Cadent powers the evolution of TV brand advertising by providing data-driven solutions for buying and selling TV advertising.