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The Next Big Thing in TV and Gaming: More Insights from the ANA Conference

Jaime Singson
Jaime Singson  |  Senior Director, Product and Marketing
Updated: Jun. 03, 2024
Published: May. 31, 2024

Following the first blog that covered the initial sessions of the ANA conference, we continue to delve into the profound discussions and insights shared by industry leaders. The day-long event at Simulmedia brought together experts who explored various facets of the evolving television landscape. In this post, we’ll pick up where we left off, beginning with the fourth session, "Making Programmatic Work for TV."

Making Programmatic Work for TV

The session "Making Programmatic Work for TV" featured Dave Dworin, Chief Product Officer at Freewheel, who provided a comprehensive overview of the challenges and opportunities in integrating programmatic advertising with television.

David Dworin at Simulmedia sponsored ANA summit

Dworin kicked off with a striking statistic that underscored the rapid growth in programmatic: “Programmatic going to publishers has grown 6X and now generates a third of TV publishers' CTV revenue.” This set the stage for a detailed exploration of the unique dynamics of programmatic in the TV ecosystem.

Programmatic in CTV grows 6x

A key highlight of the session was Dworin's vision for the future of the Upfronts. He posited that TV publishers need to offer a mix of buying models in their upfront commitments. This would include not just the standard non-biddable direct insertion orders and sponsorships, but also programmatic guaranteed and even biddable models from private marketplace deals. Advertisers favor biddable models as they allow more control over their buys. However, this complexity introduces a challenge for publishers who must now manage advertiser commitments across both non-biddable (which they control) and biddable models (which advertisers control).

Dworin explained that if advertisers set their bids too low, publishers might see these biddable commitments fall short and shift more money into non-biddable models, which could frustrate advertisers. Innovations from Freewheel address this by providing publishers with tools to signal advertisers: “Hey, you may want to increase your bids because your biddable buys are pacing below expectations.” This allows the buy-side to self-correct instead of having the publishers make the corrections.

One of the key points Dworin emphasized was the disparity in data ownership between web and CTV. “All of the data in the web lives in the buy-side, but all the data in the CTV side live in the sell-side,” he explained, highlighting a fundamental difference that shapes how programmatic advertising operates in these two environments. This difference necessitates a tailored approach to data utilization and ad targeting in CTV.

Dworin also discussed the complexities and risks associated with live events, which are a significant draw for advertisers. “The coolest events are happening in live, but there’s an added level of risk. High value, high risk,” he noted. He elaborated on the technical challenges, such as handling simultaneous ad requests during major live broadcasts, which can overwhelm systems not adequately prepared for such spikes in demand.

A major focus of the session was on the need for technological and strategic adaptations to make programmatic viable in the TV space. Dworin pointed out, “One of the big reasons you are in the Upfronts is you want to access the really big tentpole events — and a lot of those are live. But live is really hard.” He detailed the various technical hurdles, including pacing algorithms and fraud alerts, that need to be managed to ensure successful ad delivery in real-time environments.

Dworin's insights also touched on the ongoing industry challenge of transitioning from web-based programmatic to TV-based programmatic. He explained that traditional web programmatic relies heavily on 2D display ads, whereas TV programmatic is fundamentally different because it revolves around video content and timing. “Programmatic for video is based on time. That’s the first big change, and that changes the way a DSP paces,” he said, underlining the necessity for a paradigm shift in programmatic strategies to cater to the TV medium.

Bringing biddable to the upfronts wth David Dworin

The session wrapped up with a discussion on the strategic trade-offs for brands considering programmatic TV. Dworin cautioned that while programmatic offers numerous benefits, it also comes with its own set of challenges, such as additional costs and limited access to certain types of premium inventory. However, with careful planning and the right technological infrastructure, these challenges can be mitigated to unlock the full potential of programmatic in television.

As the session concluded, it was evident that while making programmatic work for TV requires navigating complex terrain, the rewards of successful integration are substantial. The insights shared by Dworin provided a clear roadmap for leveraging programmatic to enhance the effectiveness and reach of TV advertising.

Reimagining the Client/Agency Partnership to Optimize Programmatic

Katherine Freeley Head, Media Center of Excellence at Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals and Jo Zmood, Managing Director OMD

The session "Reimagining the Client/Agency Partnership to Optimize Programmatic" featured insightful discussions led by Jo Zmood, Managing Director at OMD, and Katherine Freeley, Head of the Media Center of Excellence at Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals. They explored how client and agency relationships need to evolve to better leverage programmatic advertising, anchored around three key pillars: Governance, Collaboration, and Transparency.

Reimagining the global agency model

Zmood began by emphasizing the importance of a co-created governance framework that ensures shared accountability for media’s impact on business outcomes. “Media is becoming more and more a topic of agenda in boardroom discussions because media is playing a bigger role today in driving business outcomes,” he said. This statement underscored the strategic value of media investments and the necessity for closer collaboration between clients and agencies.

The second pillar, Collaboration, was illustrated through the global transformation efforts delivered via the streamlined structure of OneBIH, a dedicated, bespoke partnership model. Freeley explained the unique challenges faced by pharma companies in navigating the media landscape. “CPG companies understand media and marketing really well. Pharma companies — they focus on research — and I don't think we want to change that. Our focus is on prolonging the life of future generations. For pharma companies, media is a bit of a conundrum — they don't often understand it,” she noted. This highlighted the need for agencies to educate and guide clients through the complexities of programmatic advertising.

Radical candor and transparency, the third pillar, are crucial in client/agency relationships. “We need to learn how to be radically honest about how we're transparent and how we are tackling issues. Because if we're not, then you hit the point where you cannot communicate effectively,” Freeley stressed. This honesty is crucial for building trust and ensuring that both parties are aligned in their objectives and strategies.

Zmood emphasized the importance of benchmarking and accountability within this transparent framework. “We've been a strong proponent on benchmarking with the ANA because more and more, we as agencies need something to be held accountable to in programmatic,” he stated. This accountability is essential for maintaining high standards and delivering measurable results in programmatic campaigns.

One of the most impactful points made by Freeley was the environmental impact of programmatic advertising. “Programmatic is one of the biggest carbon emitters, especially made for advertising sites that use a lot of server farms. They emit more carbon than the whole airline industry altogether. Our responsibility as advertisers is not only to focus on a clean programmatic supply, but also to minimize carbon emissions,” she said. This perspective added a new dimension to the discussion, highlighting the need for sustainable practices in digital advertising.

The session concluded with a focus on ROI and continuous education. “In a nutshell, when we invest in media, we do expect an ROI, and that manifests itself in terms of 'new to script' or 'script lift' in metrics,” Freeley noted. She also emphasized the ongoing need to educate marketers about changes in the media landscape and viewership behaviors. “There's a lot of data coming into the marketplace, and how we harness that and utilize it in new ways to find the audiences, that's the new frontier,” Zmood added.

Game On: Exploring the Future of Brands and Video Games

The final session of the ANA conference, "Game On: Exploring the Future of Brands and Video Games," was a riveting exploration into the intersection of gaming and brand engagement. Joost van Dreunen, Professor at NYU Stern, and Adam Keaney, General Manager at PlayerWON, led the discussion, highlighting the immense potential of gaming as a cultural and commercial platform.

Adam Keaney, General Manager at PlayerWON and Joost van Dreunen Professor NYU Stern

Joost van Dreunen kicked off the session by addressing the unique cultural space that gaming occupies. “Gaming affords a cultural space that no other form of media does,” he remarked, underscoring the deep and personal connections players have with their games. This connection presents a unique opportunity for brands to engage with audiences in meaningful ways.

Van Dreunen also discussed the shift from service models to games as platforms, a transition accelerated by the pandemic. “What excites me now post-pandemic — we've transitioned away from the service model towards games as a platform,” he explained. This shift allows for continuous engagement and interaction, providing brands with ongoing opportunities to connect with gamers.

Quote from Dennis Kooker, President of the Global Digital Business at Sony

Adam Keaney added to this by sharing insights on how major IP adaptations can drive engagement. “Fallout, newly out on Amazon, inspired a huge spike in downloads of the game, which had already been out for years, attracting a brand new audience,” he noted. This example highlighted the powerful synergy between gaming content and other media forms, creating multiple touchpoints for brand interaction.

Keaney showcased compelling quotes on the monitors that emphasized the growing influence of gaming among younger generations. He cited Dennis Kooker, President of Global Digital Business at Sony Music, saying, “When we look at Gen Z and Gen Alpha, what we’re seeing is that gaming is the No. 1 entertainment choice over video.” This was further reinforced by Meredith Kopit Levien, CEO of The New York Times, who stated, “Wordle brought an unprecedented tens of millions of new users to The Times, many of whom stayed to play other games, which drove our best quarter ever for net subscriber additions to Games.”

Engagement with media platforms

Keaney also engaged the audience in a revealing exercise, getting them to acknowledge that even casual game players are gamers. He presented a statistic showing that people spend nearly 12 hours a week on video games and virtual worlds. This figure closely trails the time spent on "social media & video sharing platforms" (13.12 hours per week) and "broadcast TV & subscription services" (13.92 hours per week). This data underscored the significant role of gaming in the broader entertainment landscape.

The session concluded with a focus on the evolving perceptions of gamers and the integration of gaming into broader media strategies. “Gaming now is at this moment where we can share, have meaningful moments with others. The stereotypical model of the gamer as someone alone in his basement — we're well past that moment,” Van Dreunen concluded, emphasizing the mainstream acceptance and social aspects of gaming today.

The ANA conference at Simulmedia provided a wealth of insights into the evolving television and media landscape. From rethinking the upfronts and tackling programmatic transparency to exploring the vibrant future of gaming, each session was packed with actionable takeaways and thought-provoking ideas.

At Simulmedia, we pride ourselves on being a trusted partner dedicated to helping our clients achieve exceptional results in media and TV advertising. Our advanced TV and data-driven insights ensure that clients not only stay ahead of industry trends but also maximize the effectiveness of their campaigns. Working with Simulmedia means gaining access to cutting-edge solutions and expertise that consistently deliver outstanding outcomes. Our commitment to innovation and excellence means that clients always leave our collaborations smarter and better equipped to navigate the complexities of the media landscape.