FWC Upfronts 2018 Video Series: The Most Powerful Platform is…TV

James Rothwell VP, Marketing, Comcast Advertising

With the Upfront season fast approaching, it’s important to take a step back and view the state of the TV industry through the lens of its digital evolution.

This is not a revolution, as linear TV remains the dominant share of viewing figures, but TV companies are evolving, embracing and adapting to the opportunities that digital consumption brings with it.

The core value proposition of TV and premium video remains: brand-safe, quality reach in engaged environments. That value is being augmented by data and “targetability” as well as simplified ways of accessing those key audiences.

There is a heightened need for increased collaboration and standardization to fully capitalize on the full power of television, and all of its various distribution channels. Re-aggregation of audiences across fragmented screens has been the focus for the last 10 years but media companies also understand that a more platform-like approach to TV will help to meet the needs of marketers at scale.

This need for collaboration is also one of the reasons that we formed the FreeWheel Council for Premium Video (FWC) in 2015. We wanted to create a forum for leaders of these major premium video players to come together and work on initiatives to help push the ecosystem forward.  With more addressable and automated solutions now available within the world of premium video, the FWC is focusing on driving outcomes for marketers and agencies while enhancing the user experience.

“The leaders in the industry…have to have conversations and agree on common currencies, a shared technology, ways to approach data, how to use our own data as well as borrowing other people’s data, so that we can move forward as an industry,” says Dave Clark, EVP, General Manager, FreeWheel. “The FreeWheel Council was formed with that mission in mind, to provide a forum for these leaders to come together, discuss these issues, work on projects together, and lead the industry towards what we hope is a better future.”

At the most recent FreeWheel Council Executive Board dinner in New York City, ahead of this year’s TV Upfront buying season, members participated in a roundtable discussion that focused on why quality reach, data, and ease of buying matters to marketers buying TV and video today, and how TV is evolving to meet those expectations. This is the first in a series of videos produced by the FWC to address these three key aspects, due to be released over the coming weeks.

TV’s scale has always successfully driven awareness and customer growth for brands. No other medium has the track record of driving top-of-the-funnel awareness. That power of scale can now be enhanced by the targeting ability of a digital ecosystem, driving results further down the purchase funnel.

“There are a handful of things that are table stakes today that were not table stakes two or three or four years ago,” says Amit Chaturvedi, EVP, Revenue Operations and Product Management, Turner, who noted that scale, trusted environments, transparency, and ad experience are all now non-negotiable for marketers. “When you put all this together, that’s really what premium video means today. The programmer has to be able to check all of these boxes just like the marketer has to be able to check all of these boxes.”

Brand marketers want to simplify how to buy TV and premium video by streamlining the plan and buy around specific audiences, delivered across all screens. TV companies are working to establish more consistency and efficiency, so TV and premium video in aggregate provides the simplicity that other digital platforms offer marketers. Aligning on inventory, platforms, data, and best practices will help to deliver on that streamlined buying approach.

While many of these companies will be going head to head competing for the same advertising budgets in the Upfront season, there is an understanding among FWC members that increased collaboration and TV operating more like a platform will help foster a more positive advertising ecosystem and create unique opportunities for brand marketers.

As Krishan Bhatia, EVP, Business Operations and Strategy, NBCUniversal succinctly puts it: “We believe TV is evolving in a number of ways. Better measurement across all platforms to deliver on a total audience perspective. Automation, to increase the efficiency of the workflow. And data, in order to make premium video more intelligent through targeting and optimization.”