Here's How the TV Ad Market Changed in 2023

Ad sales chiefs and media buyers weigh in on upfront and TV advertising changes

The TV ad market is changing FAST-er than ever.

From the Hollywood strikes to a soft ad market, advertisers had to contend with several obstacles in 2023. Those obstacles are having a lasting impact, accelerating the move to streaming and FAST channels, firmly cementing sports and live events as coveted inventory, and changing how the TV upfronts and NewFronts will run in the future.

To understand the shifting dynamics in the marketplace, Adweek caught up with 17 ad sales chiefs, buyers and insiders to learn how the TV ad market changed in 2023.

Dani Benowitz, president, U.S. and global, Magna: An audience- and content-led strategy has replaced the era of following a daypart approach. In a world where streaming is comparable in reach and notably excelling in content, ensuring a mix of video that mirrors consumption is necessary to grow reach, consideration and purchase intent. All of this is why a holistic video strategy is vital!

Diana Bernstein, evp and managing director of investment, Havas Media Network: The ability to find ways to connect with an audience while being mindful of context and content continues to expand beyond the TV marketplace. Advertiser spending moving away from traditional TV into more digital mediums is not new, but areas as to where those ad dollars are now shifting has expanded and put an emphasis on retail media, which is an area of great opportunity.

Geoffrey Calabrese, chief investment officer, Omnicom Media Group North America: Redundant, but clearly, the overall softness in ad spend and the influx of new streaming inventory have impacted the marketplace significantly, and it has generally benefited the streaming marketplace because the CPMs have rightfully come down, which makes it more viable for advertisers at vastly different spend levels to engage. What looked to be a negative will actually be positive in that a more diverse set of our portfolio is now engaging in TV advertising because it is digital, it is addressable, and it is now more affordable.

David Campanelli, evp and chief investment officer, Horizon Media: I wish I could answer this by saying the biggest change is that we are now transacting on alternative currencies in the way we are with Nielsen. But that still hasn’t happened yet. So, I think the biggest change in the last year is that we have pivoted to a sports- and streaming-first marketplace. Broadcast TV and cable TV no longer are the lead dayparts in the market.

Rita Ferro, global advertising president, Disney: It’s way more dynamic than ever. Sports, news, anything that’s live has elevated to top of mind and top of where investments are happening. The priority in terms of a marketer’s mindset and where they’re spending dollars—because they know that it resonates—is driving audience across all the platforms. And then when you look at the marketplace, it’s super interesting to see that you have an upfront marketplace, no question, but the scatter marketplace isn’t really scatter. It’s biddable, automation, programmatic and all of these other marketplaces.

Marianne Gambelli, former president of advertising sales, marketing and brand partnerships, Fox Corporation: We’re living in a very interesting time. I think we will look back at 2023 as a true inflection point, when technology and customization have given both the buy side and the sell side increased optionality, flexibility and the ability to personalize. It’s no longer about a single product or strategy or even currency, but rather about what will best serve each client. By being always and singularly advertiser-focused across our entire portfolio of sports, entertainment, news and streaming, Fox is uniquely adept at hearing and understanding what our partners want or need—and strategic and creative enough to always deliver.

John Halley, president, Paramount Advertising: CTV is growing fast but is no longer a homogenous category. The publisher’s ability to accommodate a client’s data and activation preferences is what separates the winners from the losers. There are many ways to buy media. As a seller, how many lanes can you play in? And the emergence of retail media has unquestionably changed the game.

Kim Kelleher, chief commercial officer, AMC Networks: We are seeing a clear shift away from advertisers trying to reach consumers by simply buying spots in shows and toward broader partnerships that span digital, streaming and even branded integrations that tie in the content. Those shifts, in addition to advances in addressability and programmatic buying, are allowing us to deliver the most relevant and outcome-driven impressions in our industry’s history, and we are still only scratching the surface of what’s possible.

Peter Olsen, president of ad sales, A+E Networks: Amazon Prime Video entering the video ad market continues the trend of all players trying to recreate the dual revenue stream model. The economics of streaming still haven’t found equilibrium but are coming into focus.

Mark Marshall, chairman of global advertising and partnerships, NBCUniversal: Technology has evolved the TV ad marketplace, allowing us to stop bifurcating linear and digital. It is more essential than ever that we follow the consumer wherever they are. And when you combine the scale of broadcast and the precision of streaming, there is an untapped, unduplicated reach that clients are craving beyond the 18-49 proxies. The future is all about total audiences and identity. It is time to throw out the old playbooks. Now.

Shelby Saville, chief investment officer, Publicis Media Exchange: We’ve seen more ad tiers opening up what were once closed ecosystems, which is good news for being able to connect with audiences as they move across screens. With this commitment to more ad-supported streaming, we’ll see more partnerships, collaboration and consolidation across players.

Dina Roman, svp of global ad sales, Fubo: The proliferation of ad-supported streaming, such as AVOD and FAST channels, has shaken up the streaming landscape over the last year. In a wave, streaming platforms have leaned into advertising to create additional revenue streams, including services that claimed they’d never accept advertising. This has widened the playing field for both the buy-side and sell-side.

Donna Speciale, president of U.S. advertising sales and marketing, TelevisaUnivision: We’ve seen more intention around authenticity, and that’s something we’re continuing to drive at TelevisaUnivision. When reaching a new audience, you must have an approach that’s real to that audience and their culture, language and experiences, and we’ve seen more marketers lean into Spanish language to engage with U.S. Hispanic consumers. It’s something I know we’ll see more of in 2024 and beyond.

Jon Steinlauf, chief U.S. advertising sales officer, Warner Bros. Discovery: Sports has become the most dominant genre in all ad-supported television. What has been most notable to me is the audience growth, the increasing ad demand and the use of more sports celebrities in ad creative.

Stacey Stewart, chief marketplace officer, UM Worldwide: The strikes really accelerated the shift out of linear, with dollars following the on-demand content that streamers can provide.

Matt Sweeney, chief investment officer, GroupM US: While the video landscape is complex to navigate, this year has given us valuable learnings about cross-platform planning to effectively reach and resonate with viewers, all in the name of audience-first advertising. Next year, we will focus on delivering our advertisers new and optimized ways to target, customize and measure effective creative and targeting, while still getting the best of TV’s trusted ability to reach and influence.

Carly Zipp, global director of brand marketing, Amazon Ads: When we talk about TV in 2023, we obviously have to talk about how the SAG and WGA strikes have shaped the industry. An interesting trend we saw during the strikes was how this shaped viewing habits. Normally, when we think of premium content, we think of those big-budget, scripted series. You think of Marvelous Mrs. Maisel or Daisy Jones & The Six (my husband’s favorite show this year).

But the strikes have put an equal emphasis on other forms of “premium” content, like non-scripted reality (where my Bravo fans at?) and even renewed appreciation in digging up old favorites for a nostalgic rewatch. Again, the biggest changes have also been increased fragmentation across ad-supported, subscription-based streaming services.

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