Upfront Season: 5 TV Advertising Trends Have Emerged

By Iván Markman, Chief Business Officer at Yahoo

With the Upfronts upon us, it’s important for TV advertisers to take stock in the year’s key trends, thus far, and consider where we might go next. With the market changing rapidly and nearly $75 billion on the line, what can we expect as we enter a new season of buying?

In conversations with clients and partners, here are some key themes we should all keep in mind moving forward.

1. Omnichannel interoperability will reign supreme

With the global pandemic came the rise of a seemingly never-ending buffet of streaming platforms and content – a great opportunity for consumers and marketers, but also the source of more market fragmentation. Marketers used to achieve their reach goals by buying from a small number of networks. Today, however, they have a much more complicated job of efficiently aggregating their ever-growing reach.

While DSPs have proven effective in giving marketers the tools to do just that, it’s an omnichannel strategy and continued cross-industry collaboration that will keep those DSPs providing value. For example, the ability to accurately control frequency and reach across screens and deliver a comprehensive investment view across linear and digital buys. And partnering with the industry’s top data providers fuels measurement and optimization, which further amplifies CTV’s effectiveness.

2. The value of ACR grows

While it’s been around for a few years, this will be the year the market fully realizes the value of ACR data – paired with the surge in CTV inventory and content consumption. Its first-party data is highly beneficial to addressable advertising, incremental reach, and the ability to target streaming viewers outside of a linear campaign. This year, advertisers will proactively seek out planning and buying solutions that include this coveted data.

3. When advanced TV is ⅓ of the Upfronts, it’s mainstream and a mainstay

TV viewership continues to skyrocket, with CTV at the forefront of that growth and consumer engagement. This year, brands will refine their strategies and unlock incremental linear reach with CTV spend. But with fragmentation across linear and CTV viewing, robust frequency management across both will be critical to the effective use of ad dollars.

To that notion, the Upfronts have become more CTV-centric – and when it makes up a third of Upfront spend, it’s no longer experimental – it’s a mainstay. At the same time, the important task of eliminating overlap and excess household frequency will require advertisers to increase the sophistication of their CTV buys. This will include a higher percentage of CTV bought in the Upfront and being activated programmatically instead of IO. It will also lead to a decrease in programmatic guaranteed spending and an increase in bidded private or open marketplaces. These changes will allow advertisers to more dynamically and granularly manage reach and frequency for their campaigns. As consumer behavior continues to shift toward streaming, marketers seek more agility and optimization.

4. The future of CTV identity

For advertisers, the promise of CTV is the scale and impact of TV, the largest screen in the home, plus the 1:1 addressability of digital advertising. The consumer shift to streaming makes that first point all but assured, yet addressability in CTV is fragmented today, and will look different tomorrow.

Upcoming privacy changes to desktop and mobile advertising will have an indirect impact on the ability to target and measure in CTV. To preserve and improve this valuable capability, advertisers will rely more than ever on persistent, future-proofed identifiers to unify their linear, CTV and other digital campaigns, and companies with direct consumer relationships will play a crucial role.

5. The evolution of TV measurement

There has been a great improvement in TV data – and therefore measurement – which has created inconsistency in TV metrics that further complicates successful TV spend management. As TV evolves though, it’s necessary for there to be a diversification of attributes and currencies to better reflect the wealth of data we now have.

To support this, a number of industry players are beginning to roll out their own new currencies to support advertisers’ measurement needs. Partnerships and collaboration across the advanced TV landscape will continue to drive the future of measurement for advertisers, connecting advertisers, device manufacturers, streaming services, MVPDs (multichannel video program distributors), measurement and verification partners.

An increase in rich household level TV viewing data opens the door to measuring and managing ROI like never before. Closed-loop sales lift studies, brand awareness studies, and more can all be tied to these new digital ad exposures.

As the TV market continues to evolve, we’re only in round one. As we move forward, marketers must embrace and navigate these trends to be successful.

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