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2018 Cannes Lions: Bringing Creative, Data & Tech Together

Every year, the Cannes Lions brings the advertising industry together to celebrate the best and most innovative creative in the world. Over the last couple of years, data and technology have been added to the mix – giving the industry hope that we can add more impact to advertising by bringing all three elements together.

The Cadent team was at the festival this year (you might’ve seen our banner in front of the Carlton Hotel, visible from the Croisette). Cadent Network President Jim Tricarico spoke on an advanced TV panel at the CMO ClubHouse, and CEO Nick Troiano and CMO Paul Alfieri talked to Cynopsis about why Cannes is such a valuable event for our industry.

The Lions are, of course, a great way to take the pulse of the industry and hear diverse perspectives about where the industry is headed.

Here are a few takeaways we heard:

  • The current television ad model needs to be reinvented. The industry should come together and push for more unified standards, including the definition of an impression, in order to evolve and not lose out to the social giants and walled gardens of the world. New challenges like increased ratings pressure, inflationary pricing and audience fragmentation call for evolved methods of targeting and measurement. Change won’t happen overnight, but the industry is moving in this direction.
  • OTT and ACR are the future of TV. Linear models need to be reconsidered to remain relevant. Automatic content recognition or ACR data will revolutionize the industry. In the past five years, the number of over-the-top (OTT) only households has tripled to 14 million. TV is going through a major transformation, and it’s up to the industry to decide how and when that transformation progresses.
  • Data, Data & More Data. Brands and agencies are stressing the importance of strategically building plans against audiences and garnering deeper post-campaign analytics and insights. Currently, the industry lacks the expertise to really drive the marketplace forward, and a different, more data-driven skillset may be needed. At Cannes, we heard that data is influencing the creative and campaign design processes and driving a more “test, iterate, evolve” approach to campaigns. Modern marketing requires an analytical mindset and a drive all aspects of campaign, from TV performance to messaging. The industry needs to continue automating processes so we can be more flexible in an iterative world constantly looking to improve.

Why I Joined the Cadent Team

A few years ago, Comcast CEO Brian Roberts told Bloomberg that television will change more in the next five years than in the last 50, and that sentiment holds true today.

As the industry responds to a period of rapid technological change and growing complexity, it’s an exciting time to join the Cadent team. As Chief Product Officer, I have the incredible opportunity to be one voice in a community that will transform the TV landscape, and Cadent is the perfect platform to support this transformation.

During my career, I’ve been part of companies and teams that have changed industries forever from online publishing and monetization with DoubleClick (now Google), automated buying and optimization with MediaMath, and online transparency and analytics tools with DoubleVerify. These experiences shaped my understanding of what it takes to transform sales and operations-focused businesses into product solution-focused organizations. It’s an exciting and rare challenge.

Television is on the cusp of a great transformation, and many TV-centric companies are already taking control of their own evolutions. Industry partners want to complement their business and evolve to answer the industry’s needs – examples include AT&T’s newly announced acquisition of AppNexus or Comcast’s acquisition of FreeWheel a few years back. Ultimately, the partners who will bring change to the TV industry are the ones with deep understanding of cable relationships, inventory sources and the unique infrastructure of television. At Cadent, we know that change must include TV people, the people who built this business.

Only Cadent has the experience and unique understanding of both traditional linear and data-enabled TV spaces, making it the most well-rounded offering in the industry. The evolution of TV promises a more data-driven future, and it’s going to take a combination of technology services and experience to do it right. Cadent’s offering of advanced TV, data-driven linear, indexed and a platform that ties it all together is unique in the industry.

Our vision is to simplify the industry and create a more cohesive and connected ecosystem for all stakeholders. We’re not here to just build technology tools; we’re here because we understand the business. And the industry is only good as the technology, services and experiences that surround it.

Today, we’re looking into applying our linear TV learnings and experience against our work in the addressable TV space. We see all TV as data-enabled as inventories expand, audiences fragment and agencies transform. We want to be the trusted partner who guides and supports all members of the TV ecosystem from buyers to publishers through these changes. And our two decades of experience – linked with our deep understanding of the ecosystem – will enable us to do exactly that.

Change is inevitable, but when driven with the desire to create a more open and data-driven TV ecosystem, this change can have only profound and positive impact for the industry as a whole.

Beyond the Upfronts

[A version of this post originally ran in AdExchanger.]

The annual network upfront presentations have concluded, and agencies and advertisers are strategizing how to best act on the series of announcements, products, tools, and data that promise a more effective and efficient approach to television. On the surface, “advanced TV advertising” comes across as a simple term, but in reality it is anything but. Few can argue that better data encourages a more informed allocation, and that household-level addressable ad insertion enables refined targeting and reduced waste. Most experts will also agree that improved and integrated systems will allow for better measurement and a streamlined workflow. However, it is how all these components fall in line as individual contributors, and as part of a holistic media strategy that keeps many of us up at night. There is no single solution that provides a perfect balance of new and legacy practice, but there is a suggested line of thinking that can help one organize the pieces that can lead to the right combination that fulfills the objectives needed to achieve a particular, holistic outcome.

Rome wasn’t built in a day, and TV advertising won’t change overnight, but identifying segments even slightly more granularly and appending 3rd party data with viewership data (otherwise known as indexing) will surely identify content allocation options that may have otherwise gone unnoticed. Consider the application of this knowledge from an inventory agnostic perspective. A minor tweak to a national schedule can go a long way, as can the inclusion of inventory sourced outside of the network garden. This type of split strategy can provide both the reach and efficiency needed to achieve the goal.

Addressable targeting on television can be very effective, but over-targeting and/or over-investing in hyper-targeting can be equally as ineffective. With 60% of US households capable of receiving a set-top box targeted ad, the ability to tie that ad exposure back to a sale is a very strong proposition and one that should not be ignored or taken lightly. Making an informed decision on the value addressability adds to the bottom line goal is worth the effort even if the final determination is little or none at all. Dynamic addressable TV ad insertion is here to stay and despite the perceived complexity, the outcomes are solid, and finding the right place for this tactic within the macro plan is a valuable step forward. Indeed, a recent Forrester/Association of National Advertisers survey found that 15-17% of advertisers in the US already regularly include addressable or advanced TV buys in their media plans, and additional 20-30% of advertisers plan to start dipping their toe into advanced and addressable TV techniques this year.

When thinking about automation and platform-based trading partners, agencies and brands should consider working with those who aspire to improve your business and not just their business. Everybody has a platform these days, but few are truly willing or able to adapt their platform to suit the needs of a specific agency, advertiser or content provider. Given everyone’s unique requirements, a platform must work hard and be well architected to satisfy a variety of needs and still meet the primary business goals. A true “partner platform” is far more concerned with solving problems and adding ease to execution than it is with individual name recognition. Back office work and white label support can be very effective, particularly in this new world of television advertising.

As we enter a more data-driven era of TV advertising, it is important to think of advanced tactics not as individual campaigns, but pieces of one holistic television initiative. Testing is critical; however, if the test proves positive, it is important to move beyond that initial phase and introduce the new proven tactic to the larger overall media mix. While no new television initiative is perfect, neither is our current practice, and holding out for perfection will almost certainly be a missed opportunity.

The Enduring Power of Sight, Sound, and Motion

At our 2018 Upfront, Brand Advertising in Transition, our CEO Nick Troiano spoke to an audience of more than 300 media executives about the future of brand advertising. Sight, sound, and motion continue to connect with audiences as no other medium can.

Introducing the Cadent Blog

Today we’re announcing that Cross MediaWorks, Cadent Network, Cadent Technology, and one2one media have come together as a single brand: Cadent.

Our new identity reflects our vision for the industry – to restore simplicity to the TV industry for all stakeholders so marketers can reach their audiences at scale, wherever they consume content. Cadent is now one for TV.

We’re proud to be a partner in the TV landscape. Visually, you’ll notice our logo icon represents the TV screen and our newly unified businesses, as well as all the aspects of TV that we do–network, addressable, and indexed. There are references to television’s rich legacy of innovation, as well as bright, energetic colors that allude to the promise of TV’s data-driven future. Building on Cadent’s rich legacy of innovation, we’ve chosen bright, energetic colors that allude to the promise of TV’s data-driven future.

As a newly unified company, we have a lot to share. Here on our blog, we’ll talk about the evolution of the TV ecosystem, the influence of data and opportunities that come from it, and a variety of topics relevant to the industry. We’ll also use this space to share about our culture, technology, partnerships and more.

For more, read a blog post from our CEO Nick Troiano on the future of TV. 

The Next Chapter of TV Is Just Beginning

As brand advertising has begun shifting to modern, data-driven techniques in the past decade, advertisers continue to rely on television as the most powerful vehicle for emotionally resonant storytelling. Sight, sound, and motion connect with audiences as no other medium can.

Yet new challenges have emerged. Increased ratings pressure, inflationary pricing, and audience fragmentation have given rise to new thinking and evolved methods of targeting and measurement. In this climate of uncertainty, the industry grapples with how to balance investments between the old and the new.

Our vision is to restore simplicity to a TV world made complex by walled gardens and an influx of data. We understand that advertisers need to connect with their audiences wherever they are and continuously test, iterate, and learn from their campaigns.

We believe that TV advertising must evolve. Advertisers can’t rip-and-replace current media strategies, yet the industry must answer challenges like ratings erosion and cord cutting. We believe that a steady evolution is the best way to help advertisers show value while preserving and respecting the TV economy.

We’re ready for the challenges and opportunities ahead. Our people, process, and technology make Cadent uniquely prepared to guide advertisers through the evolution of television. The complexities required to deliver effective TV advertising have increased exponentially over the past decade. While frustrating at times, this complex ecosystem comes with tremendous opportunity and Cadent has brought one2one Media into the portfolio and spent the past year integrating their expertise, proprietary data and overall experience into a single tech platform. Our platform was designed to simplify the process and deliver immense value to marketers across the medium of television.

Cadent brings together all of TV — linear, advanced, and fully addressable inventory — into a single solution that streamlines buying and selling. Advertisers can simply plan, activate, and optimize, while media owners can simply sell, deliver, and monetize.

Moving forward together is the best way to embrace TV’s evolution, and we’re proudly supporting television by powering its transformation. For buyers and planners, advertisers and their agencies, media owners and their sellers — Cadent is unified and simplified. We’re one for television.