What's Trending in North America?

This is the second in a series of Q+A style blogs in which we ask our regional leaders about the latest trends, complexities and challenges facing their respective TV & digital ad markets. Up to the plate this week is Videology’s Managing Director, North America, Tim Castree.
 

Q: Last year there was a lot of discussion around “full-frontal planning” – or holistic TV + digital planning – with agencies and brands. Have you noticed any changes in the level of commitment to this strategy in 2015?

I think agencies and advertisers have had a commitment to convergence and holistic planning for a while now, but there have always been issues on the execution end. You’d plan holistically, but at the point of execution it’d be broken down into different siloes. What’s changed now is the speed with which the platforms and the data environment are moving to facilitate this execution. The will was there but the technology never was. We’ve seen that the tech is much better set up to support the end-to-end workflow and execution of holistic cross-channel management now more than ever.


And for us, big partnerships with Nielsen and with MediaOcean play a big part into how this execution is going to continue to accelerate and improve. 


From Videology’s perspective, we have been talking a lot about convergence and “full frontal advertising,” but at this year’s Upfronts and NewFronts we saw further evidence of the accelerating path toward convergence that video is on.

 

Q: What were some of your key observations/takeaways from this year’s Upfronts and Newfronts?

My biggest observation was a trend that I saw beginning last year, really materializing this year: the growing similarity between the Upfronts and Newfronts. At the NewFronts, I heard a lot of talk about premium content, audiences and engagement, traditionally the domain of linear TV. In the Upfronts, I heard a lot of talk about data enablement and audience-based transactions, traditionally more digital topics.


To this latter point, it’s amazing to see the speed at which the idea of audience based transactions are taking hold in the TV world. We always believed it would go there, but we thought maybe it would take another year.

 

Q: How do the U.S. and Canadian TV and video markets stack up against one another when assessing agencies and brands adopting cross-screen, holistic strategies?

In Canada and the U.S. I see exactly the same attitudes and willingness to drive cross-screen management. Our own data shows that it happens a bit more in the U.S. – 58% of campaigns ran cross-screen in Q1 compared to 47% in Canada – but that difference is just a function of the U.S. having a slightly richer environment for data. The U.S. is a bit further along in bringing TV and digital audience consumption data together, but the intent is there in both countries.

 

Q: So far in 2015, what has been the greatest surprise?

The biggest surprise has been the speed with which the supply side and big media owners are embracing ad technology. They’re moving quickly and aggressively to explore new modes and models of transacting and new technology to support programmatic fulfillment. 


Directionally, we always saw it going this way, but we’ve been surprised how quickly it’s moving. Next year, we expect the application of our software to be more balanced, further highlighting how convergence extends to both supply and demand. The traditional set up of a DSP and SSP is eroding.


Here’s why. The supply side’s core businesses are coming under pressure and feeling the risk from digital and the growing number of linear TV companies that are willing to transact on audiences outside of the realm of demo. So they’re seeing that in order to grow that core business, they’ll need to build upon the application of data and programmatic technologies. That’s why the supply side is moving very aggressively, as they should.

 

Q: What questions are you asked most often by agencies and brands as it relates to video?

There are three that I hear all the time:

  • The question I’m asked most is, “What are you doing about fraud and viewability and what are you doing about the quality and safety of what we’re getting?” Since we consider ourselves one of the leaders in the industry in regard to brand safety, I’m always happy when asked the question. I point to our partnership with White Ops, which ensures protection from bots and other non-human activity for advertisers and publishers.
  • “How much data-enabled TV can I buy and when?” The answer I give them is “a lot, and soon.” And that continues to grow with every partner we sign. This is an area that is growing and growing quickly. Videology is getting in on it in its early stages so we’re better positioned as the traditional barriers surrounding TV come down. That being said, there’s much value to be had right now.
  • Lastly, we get asked about Mobile often, and I tell brands that for all the talk there is around it, it’s still one of the best kept secrets in the industry because it’s extremely underpriced. Although there are limitations in the amount of mobile video supply available, Mobile builds reach efficiently and quickly, delivers superior ROI relative to other video channels, is a very brand safe environment and has great viewability. My advice to customers is get in now and get in aggressively because the prices will go up in the long term and you might as well take advantage of this opportunity. We’re all in on mobile, and our clients are seeing the benefits.

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