Connecting the Dots: Learnings from CES 2020

Paul Martecchini VP Brand Marketing, Comcast Advertising

As we begin the year, working to make progress on the goals we’ve set, it’s exciting to spend a few of these early days of 2020 connecting with clients. Connectivity has always been a core theme at the annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, and as hundreds of thousands of consumers swarmed the convention center last week to see the latest connected devices, the media industry gathered to discuss the connectivity needed to help brands reach those consumers. The conversations during the week, on stage and in meetings rooms, revealed the palpable sense of connection media buyers and sellers will share this year. It’s not two sides of the table anymore, but rather a shared cooperation that will be needed to reach the goals that have been set.


“We’re excited about the power of television in all the shapes it is taking. We need to join hands to bring the industry along with us,” said Marcien Jenckes, President of Comcast Advertising, as he kicked off a content session Tuesday morning in The FreeWheel Hub at the Vdara Hotel. Marcien delivered an update on the On Addressability initiative launched by Comcast last year, along with Charter Communications and Cox, to make one-to-one targeted TV advertising more scalable and easier to plan, buy, and measure.

Other partners from around the industry are interested in joining the initiative, adding even more scale to the addressable platforms. While progress is being made, more education is needed to overcome perceptions that addressable TV is too expensive. Executives from AMC Networks were on stage to add a programmer’s perspective to the conversation. “Addressability is about collaborating, testing, pushing…it’s the frontier. I’d like to see all our partners invest in this,” said Kimberly Kelleher, President of Advertising Sales & Partnerships at AMC Networks.


One of the core challenges addressability is solving for is reaching consumers in an increasingly hyper-fragmented world. “The biggest challenge that we see marketers facing today is they have great stories to tell, but it’s harder than ever to reach audiences with those stories,” said David Dworin, VP of Advisory Services at FreeWheel.

David was joined on stage during Tuesday’s FreeWheel content session by Kay Vizon, Director of Media Sales at Kroger, and Todd Kaplan, Vice President of Marketing at Pepsi. “Our ad dollars can only stretch so far. The goal is getting the message right, landing it right, customizing it and measuring the heck out of it,” said Vizon, adding, “we are now making investment decisions based on business outcomes.“


Conversations about how we can collectively deliver on the true potential of TV persisted in meetings throughout the week. Dave Clark, General Manager at Freewheel, noted that, “the industry continues to focus on bringing advertisers a more cohesive offering across video but we’ve shifted from concept stage to execution stage.”

Brian Wallach, SVP Advanced TV Sales added that, “We’re moving from interest to execution in the OTT space, with media agencies focused on transparency and truth. We’re also seeing a growing interest in understanding the value of content and context with increasing concerns on data and privacy.”

“Currently consumer viewing behavior is increasingly fragmented across a variety of devices and platforms, so the marketers I’m talking at CES are looking for unified solutions that allow them to buy at scale,” said David Dworin, VP, Advisory Services. “Those marketers are getting more sophisticated about the data they have to understand and reach their target customers and they’re excited about the new technology available.”

Year after year, CES sets the stage for 12 months of advancement and collaboration. James Rothwell, VP Global Agency, Brand & Industry Relations, summed up the week well saying, “While our ecosystem gets more and more complex and fragmented, everywhere I looked at CES, I saw examples of buy and sell-side organizations looking to align on mechanisms to create efficiency and standards to scale. As an industry, we are moving from conversation to action.”