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At NAB, The Future Is Looking Bright

April 18th, 2019   ||    by Alan Wolk

One of the key themes at NAB this year was the need for broadcasters to step up to the plate and take advantage of the massive changes sweeping the industry, rather than let the changes make them irrelevant.

Change isn’t just about the shift of viewers from linear viewing to VOD, or the shift from broadcast and cable to VOD. As a very interesting session called “Media Sellers: What Now? What Next?” pointed out, even the interfaces we use to access media are changing, as voice and voice commands increase in popularity and voice-activated speakers like Alexa that also control media devices can now be found in many homes.

The number of media options available to advertisers has increased too, jumping from an average of 5.5 types of media in the typical ad buy in 2016 to a whopping 8 in 2019. Equally important: the number of companies advertisers typically buy from has decreased in that same time frame, from 5 to 3.5, a result, no doubt, of the massive consolidation that is happening in the industry.

TV On The Upswing

That doesn’t mean TV is dead or dying or no longer relevant. If anything, the opposite is the case, as viewers now have new and more efficient ways to watch. And the power of TV advertising remains as strong as ever, with its ability to tell stories and engage viewers.

A recent report from Videa backs up the notion that the industry is changing very quickly—94% of survey respondents agreed with the statement that “the TV buying process has changed rapidly in the last two years.”

That would be troubling, but there is a strong sense that the new technology can be beneficial—9 in 10 industry executives stated that they believed automation was “important or very important” to the efficiency of TV advertising buying, while 81% concurred that increased automation “helped them meet advertiser demands.”

The executives’ stated reasons for holding these favorable views of automation were also positive: automation simplified their jobs, freed up the ways they were able to add value, and ultimately saved them time.

A Positive Mood

While most everyone I spoke with was expecting major changes over the next year, especially as the “Flixcopalypse”—the launch of major streaming services from Disney, Apple, Warner Media and NBCU—happens, the overall outlook was positive. There’s a realization that the internet is not going to kill off TV, that, if anything, it’s providing viewers with more ways to watch TV than ever before.

Similarly, the rapid rise of the “FASTS” — Free Ad-supported Streaming TV Services like the Roku Channel, Pluto and Tubi—is proving that ad supported television is not fading away either and that when ads are relevant and ad loads reduced, the viewers are okay with watching them, especially if it’s in return for free content.

That’s good news for broadcasters, as the one thing local broadcast has always had going for it is that it’s free and ad supported. That’s why innovations like automated buying can help both broadcasters and advertisers create more value by streamlining processes, increasing relevance and freeing up ad sales teams.

As Shereta Williams, president at Videa stated, “The future definitely looks bright for local broadcast, especially as they turn toward automated platforms for buying and selling. By the time next year’s NAB rolls around we’re hopeful for even more progress on the adoption front.”

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