Who else is excited to think about a new year and a fresh start? While 2020 has been quite a whirlwind, the silver lining is that the last several months have been a great time to test new approaches, trial new technologies, and solidify key partnerships. Companies across the industry moved at lightning speed and kept open minds as they found innovative ways to adapt to new consumer habits.
Now that we’ve somewhat settled into a new normal for the near future, we can take time to consider how to plan for next year. That’s what I spoke about with some of the leading women in the industry from GroupM, Tru Optik, Proof Advertising, Discovery, and DISH Media during our SpotX Connect: Sightlines event.
Though a lot of 2020 discourse focuses on the negative aspects of this year, each of our panelists shared the positive new opportunities that came out of this year.
Read on to see what they’re most excited about continuing to pursue in 2021, or watch the full discussion below:
Programmatic in OTT
Discovery has been ahead of others in automating the buying of premium OTT content, but Jill Steinhauser, SVP Ad Sales Revenue and Planning at Discovery, is excited about evangelizing that even further. There’s a real need from the marketplace for programmatic, and Discovery is preparing for the future by making sure they have the appropriate connections needed to satisfy demand and activate partners.
“You’re just going to continue to see automated buying continue to grow and steal share from the direct side for the foreseeable future. It’s something we’ve been building towards at Discovery for the last couple of years and it’s exciting to see the volumes coming in,” said Jill.
Adapting to local markets
This year really demonstrated how important it is to be able to customize your solutions to the problems you’re facing. Ly Tran, CMO of Proof Advertising, shared an example of Discovery being a flexible partner and helping to determine how a custom content campaign for Travel Texas could evolve amidst the pandemic. She also spoke of navigating the challenge of localizing Subway’s campaign down to the neighborhood level to fit the unique needs of its stores as cities across the country were in varying stages of dining restrictions.
“Having that customizable partner and being able to actually have a spot that matches that market versus a one-size-fits-all was really critical. And applying that opportunity of customizable in 2021 I think will be big for us,” said Ly.
OTT viewing experience
“There’s a huge opportunity to continue improving the OTT experience from the end-user perspective with frequency management of ads,” said Jessica DuFresne, General Manager, Sling Ad Tech and Yield at DISH Media. Consumers get frustrated seeing the same ad over and over again and sometimes even within the same ad pod. This is one of the most pressing challenges companies across the industry have voiced, and Sling’s efforts to improve it will continue through next year.
There’s also a parallel opportunity “to improve the advertiser experience on OTT for reach and frequency, and make sure [advertisers] can manage that,” she continued. Advertisers need to be armed with insights to improve targeting across OTT and linear as well as other digital channels, such as display.
CTV as a standalone strategy
Consumers have been able to engage with far more content in 2020 than ever before so they’re discovering both new content and platforms. Many who have never watched CTV before have shifted from linear to streaming platforms.
Michelle Swanston, Chief Client Officer at Tru Optik, said, “What that opened up as an opportunity for advertisers was to not only look at CTV as an extension mechanism, but to leave it as a standalone and be able to utilize that.” That in itself has driven new partnerships for Tru Optik, plus, as more advertisers increased their focus on CTV this year, there will be more opportunities to apply the learnings and build on past success for future campaigns.
CTV data strategies
There will also be an opportunity to shift to a holistic, efficient, and data-driven approach to CTV campaigns in 2021. Esra Bacher, GroupM’s Managing Partner, Programmatic, explained, “For marketers that means applying data more aggressively than ever before, and prioritizing opportunities that are measurable and comparable.”
Viewership growth will continue, and marketers will look to CTV to reach new and incremental audiences. Though CTV still presents many challenges, its flexibility and precision do offer immense opportunities, particularly in a post-third-party-cookie world as marketers look to achieve more addressability.
To close out the discussion, Esra reminded us all that perhaps the most exciting opportunity going into 2021 is to continue the creative and innovative momentum. The ad tech industry has always been fast-paced, and companies should think about how to take best of what they’ve learned this year and make sure it’s put into practice going forward.
Kelly McMahon is SVP of Global Operations at SpotX, directing all enterprise-level pre-and post-sale revenue management activities, and leading all operational initiatives for brands, agencies, media owners, and programmatic traders to drive incremental ROI. In doing so, Kelly manages a team of nearly 60 talented account management, planning, ad operations, and customer success professionals. Prior to SpotX, Kelly managed online planning and publisher relations for National CineMedia and led ad operations at Altitude Digital Partners, before breaking out on her own as a career consultant.
With more than 15 years of experience in ad tech including nearly six years at SpotX, Kelly is recognized as an industry thought leader and has spoken on stage at the Lotame Spark Conference, AdMonsters Publisher Forum, Advertising Week New York, General Assembly Denver: Women in Tech, and several SpotX-hosted events. She holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Colorado at Boulder: Leeds School of Business in business administration and marketing.