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A Focus on Linear Media Today and Tomorrow: MediaPost’s Forecasts for 2019 and 2024

March 18th, 2019   ||    by Charlene Weisler

Today in linear media, we are going through the Fourth Industrial Revolution where advanced technology is disrupting several industries, according to Forbes. MediaPost’s Media Forecast 2019-2024 conference had experts peer into their crystal balls to see where our industry is headed in the next five years.

2019: Smooth Sailing

Since US ad spending growth at 3.7 percent is expected to lag behind national GDP growth, as reported by Broadcasting & Cable, are we beginning to see a seismic shift this year in ad spend and linear media?

Most panelists at the conference generally agreed that there will not be any dramatic change in 2019, even with GDPR. But for David Campanelli, EVP, co-chief investment officer at Horizon Media, agencies will see significant operational change to prove that ad campaigns drive sales results. Geoffrey Sanders, SVP of Growth at Casper, believed that there will be greater emphasis on attribution so as to better understand “which partners help us get incremental value.” This push towards attribution incrementality could bode well for local TV. The medium benefits from the addressability of ATSC 3.0 and programmatic, which has always been focused on targeting and accountability.

TV is projected to remain a dominant medium as it pivots from analog to digital. There is an “enormous amount of digital impressions that TV owns and sells,” explained Campanelli. As viewers access their desired content on a digital, delayed, or demand basis, the foundational strength of TV will increase. The doom and gloom soothsayers who say that TV is dead will have to reassess their predictions. TV isn’t dead: it’s transforming while remaining a trusted source of entertainment and news for audiences.

2024: Dramatic Changes

While 2019 is predicted to coast on anticipated change, linear media may become a brave new world five years from now. Although tongue-in-cheek, Bonnie Barest, managing director at The Media Kitchen, predicted that she would be “managing a team of robots.” But others, like Louisa Wong, chief transformation officer at Carat, see artificial intelligence (AI) and other technologies as conduits that place a premium on people who can creatively interpret data results. She predicted it will be “hard to hire the best talent possible.”

Data, even more ubiquitous in 2024, will demand more scrutiny. “We need to be able to identify anomalies in the data,” stated Israel Mirsky, executive director at OMD. There will be a greater need to consolidate data by industry, removing gaps and walled gardens as much as possible while “finding ways to pay for it while having clients see the value of it ahead of time.”

Interpreting data will continue to be a vexing problem for the industry five years from now. “Technology is outstripping our ability to interpret the data. I need small data not big data,” Wong noted. Just because you have data doesn’t mean it can be adequately interpreted. “Getting to a place where computers can do strategic learning is still an indeterminate number of years away. I don’t see us getting to general AI in five years,” concluded Mirsky.

The pace of change is hard to predict, but data, personnel, and creativity will continue to be valuable factors in media in the next few years. Advanced TV, programmatic, and addressable advertising capture, consolidate, and analyze targeted data and can more easily adjust to the new normal. Their ability to garner impactful reach and loyal audiences enables better accountability and attribution.

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