CBS has already experimented with lighter ad loads in its streaming video-on-demand service, CBS All Access, which offers 20% fewer ads than in its linear programming.
Yet, more consumers opt for CBS’ ad-supported tier than pay more for the ad-free edition, Ross said, leading to the conclusion that consumers don’t mind ads – as long as they’re attached to quality content and a good user experience.
NBC’s Yaccarino also appeared at Industry Preview during a separate fireside chat. Following are three takeaways from CBS’ and NBC’s top ad sales execs.
Subscription video and linear TV can coexist.
With the rise of subscription video on demand (SVOD), more consumers are bingeing on time-shifted content than ever before.
Bingeing is both good and bad for broadcasters.
On the down side, it’s harder to capture viewers in a live, linear setting when they’re playing catch-up on their favorite series after its original air date. That said, many brand advertisers still view linear TV as the most effective reach play.
“Where do marketers go when they want scale and immediacy? They come back to broadcast,” Ross said. “So it’s a negative and positive for us.”
The upfront isn’t going away. It’s getting data-driven.
Ross noted that the annual broadcast upfronts are increasingly about the data.
“Clients are taking huge, multimillion-dollar budgets and might carve out a portion to transact on data,” Ross said. “Clients and marketers want to be more targeted. They want to understand the attribution points that do lead to return on investment.”
And the brand safety issues plaguing digital video portals make the upfront process more attractive.
“You can proactively pick and choose the content you want your messages to run across in advance,” Yaccarino said. “In television, time exists … it’s perishable, and you’re talking about specific spots in a pod at a certain day and time. That time goes away if you don’t schedule ahead. It’s why upfronts are important.”
The lack of comprehensive industry standards across the fragmented worlds of linear TV and digital makes it difficult for TV networks to give marketers “the best possible opportunities,” said NBC’s Yaccarino.
CBS’ Ross also called out the need for clearer visibility in measurement and a common metric that accounts for linear, live viewing, as well as over-the-top and on-demand viewing.
“Nielsen promised us a total audience rating,” Ross said. “They’re working on it, but we are not there yet. There’s so many different devices that you can’t measure accurately across them yet, which has been the challenge for Nielsen.”
In the meantime, networks are cobbling together data sets and piloting new measurement models for specific clients.
“This past upfront, for instance, we did some business on C35 when most business is transacted on age, gender and C7 ratings,” Ross said. “Maybe we’ll provide an age and gender guarantee or maybe there will be another guarantee based on first- and third-party attribution data. There will be tweaks along the way.”