Platforms Are Striving to Balance Effectiveness for Advertisers With Not Annoying Consumers

Insights from MediaLink's NewFronts kickoff breakfast panel

Several publishers will be making presentations at this year's NewFronts
IAB

Platforms and publishers today face an age-old challenge when it comes to advertising: creating and carrying ads that are effective for the advertiser without annoying the consumer.

MediaLink kicked off Digital Content NewFronts today with its annual breakfast and panel during which four industry executives—Tara Walpert Levy, Google and YouTube’s vp of agency and media solutions; Michael Kassan, chairman and CEO of MediaLink; Kristin Lemkau, CMO of JPMorgan Chase; and Joshua Lowcock, global brand safety officer and U.S. chief digital and innovation officer for UM Worldwide—discussed just that. The foursome on the panel, which was moderated by Business Insider’s editor in chief Alyson Shontell, spoke about the state of digital and television advertising today and offered a few predictions for the coming year in digital advertising.

Walpert Levy said changes in the way people consume content have changed how brands have approached advertising.  “Prime time has really become personal, and that changes pretty radically how brands are looking to connect with people,” she said.

Though the approach may be more personal, Kassan said, the industry will prioritize effectiveness this year and use it when deciding which programs to invest in.

“We’re all looking at the different distribution platforms and the different ways to communicate messages through content, and at the core of everything is storytelling,” he said. “But I think effectiveness is the word and looking at how we measure and how we can deliver return on the investments that we make across any industry—that’s the center for us this year.”

To find that effectiveness, the panelists agreed, value to the consumer must be paramount for brands. Today’s wariness of ads is a reaction to living in a world where ads are inescapable and in your face. People will only start to accept and even embrace ads if they don’t feel like ads.

“I think the industry has fundamentally failed to respect the consumer when it comes to advertising,” Lowcock said. “We grew up believing we should inject ads everywhere in every moment. That’s why we’ve seen the rise of ad blockers and the move to ad-free environments.”

Lowcock called ad-free environments, platforms that exist solely on subscription dollars rather than advertising revenue, an “existential threat.” But he predicted they won’t be able to stay ad-free forever, estimating a day will come when OTT services like Netflix will be forced to accept advertising.

“There will become a tipping point where ads come back,” Lowcock said. “Netflix is ad free now. I can’t imagine a world where it’s ad free forever. According to them, they will, but you look at their content costs, and that’s where addressable advertising and new ad formats will come in.”

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