- June 18, 2018

Delivering Impact: Advancing this Year’s Upfronts

Autum Molay
Autum Molay
Head of Product & Insights Marketing

One of TV’s biggest weeks has come and gone once again. This year, terms like “cross-platform,” “time-shifted” and “audience-based buying” moved beyond simple industry buzzwords to actual reality. In this ever-changing media environment, it’s increasingly clear industry players can no longer hold fast to the old method of buying and selling based on age/gender alone. Networks, agencies and advertisers have all evolved their tactics in more ways than one and we’ve learned a lot from watching them find new and interesting approaches to successfully buy and sell ad inventory in 2018. 

In the wake of this year’s Upfronts, we sat down with Comscore Chief Revenue Officer Chris Wilson, an industry veteran with more than two decades in TV audience measurement, to ask him for his insights.

Here’s what Chris had to say.   

COMSCORE: Ahead of the Upfronts, I’m sure you had numerous conversations with clients on media planning. What are some of the biggest items on their “wish list”? What are some of their greatest challenges?

CHRIS: What our customers really want is a trusted currency for planning, transacting, and evaluating media across platforms based on advanced audiences. This requires trust and transparency, completeness of information, and a willingness to approach and solve problems in a new way. To reach their goals, our clients need unduplicated reach and frequency across all platforms tied to targets that represent an advertiser’s ideal consumers. Of course, this is easier said than done. Massive-scale reporting within and across linear, OTT, video on demand and digital is needed to properly measure and evaluate media at the level our customers require to succeed in today’s dynamic marketplace.   

COMSCORE: What trends did you see during this year’s Upfronts? Was there anything notably different this year from years past?

CHRIS: This year, as expected, we saw an increased emphasis on advanced audiences and the ability to match consumer data to media information. This is highly valuable to buyers and sellers alike as it allows them to move beyond age and gender to reach target audiences based on their behaviors, interests and lifestyles. New initiatives like OpenAP emphasize the importance of audience-based buying as the consortium continues to attract prominent industry players looking to gain a competitive edge.  

We also saw an increased focus on moving traditional ad dollars to branded content. This was a big priority for many this year and could result in the networks more frequently proposing branded content opportunities bundled with traditional ad buys to expand and grow their investment.

Finally, we saw a lot of networks focusing on the value and power of their content “fanbase” – using the “fandom” of the brand as a proxy for an engagement metric. There was a lot of research this year rooted in the idea that increasing the number of “fans” – loyal viewers who act as brand advocates for your network or content –may be more impactful than sheer audience size alone. In our increasingly social environment, brand loyalists can act as marketers, engaging in peer-to-peer conversations on- and offline that often bear more weight and influence than traditional marketing efforts. Brand and consumer relationships are more valuable than ever before as they move from transactional relationships to ones based on reciprocity and ongoing engagement.

COMSCORE: We have been talking about media fragmentation for years. How is that affecting Upfront negotiations? How are marketers taking the rise of OTT into consideration?

CHRIS: More and more, we’re seeing OTT and other emerging advertising opportunities offered as part of an overall package – emphasizing the idea that a view is a view regardless of the platform on which it occurs. These bundled packages help advertisers expand their touchpoints with consumers and gives the sell-side the ability to expand the number of targeted impressions they can offer advertisers. It’s a win-win. Buyers won’t be bound by platform silos when attempting to reach their target consumers and sellers can leverage the power of their full inventory across every screen. It is still early days, but the use of these more all-inclusive packages will continue to expand as their feasibility and utility are tested and proven effective in the marketplace.

COMSCORE: How are marketers approaching targeting this year? How are they determining high-value audiences and what are the currencies on which they are transacting?

CHRIS: Unsurprisingly, advanced targeting is increasingly a top priority for advertisers. They have used sophisticated targeting in planning for years and are now starting to leverage it on the transaction side of the business. The growth of advanced targeting allowing advertisers to more efficiently reach their target consumers wherever they are viewing. On the sell-side, it allows media companies to begin to monetize their content based on the quality versus just the quantity of viewers and demonstrate they can reach an advertiser’s best customers. In fact, many media companies are now moving away from age/gender entirely and are looking at new, more meaningful metrics to value and sell their inventory. Compared to the old days, where the focus was on sheer quantity of views, the conversation is evolving. It’s no longer about how many people you’ve reached, but rather, if you’ve reached the right audiences and made an actual impact.

COMSCORE: What are the areas of opportunity for TV buyers and sellers? Where do you see the industry going?

CHRIS: We have reached a point where we need to fundamentally rethink our approach to planning, transacting and evaluating media. The advertising and media industry have already clearly stated they are moving away from the old age/gender-based approach and moving toward advanced targeting for both buying and selling. Industry decision makers are shifting their mindset from simply measuring how many viewers they reached to understanding who was exposed and if it resulted in an actual business outcome.

Now measurement must also evolve. While we respect the old guard of TV measurement, we can’t retrofit legacy techniques from 1950 to serve the needs of 2018, let alone 2050 and beyond. In this new world, the winners will be those that seize the opportunities presented by new technology and innovation in audience measurement to reach consumers based on what they like and what they buy no matter when, where or how they are viewing.

Comscore has been measuring TV for over a decade and was a pioneer in creating advanced audiences for TV. It has acted as a trusted currency for many major TV buyers and sellers during the Upfronts and beyond. For more information about Comscore TV measurement and advanced audiences, contact us.