‘The 30 second TV ad slot is not going anywhere’

Panelists at the second day of The Drum’s inaugural Programmatic Punch event in the US, today (November 3) discussed The Future of TV, with experts asserting that despite the ongoing seismic shifts in the industry, some of the core principles are not about to change.

Future of TV panel
Panelists at Programmatic Punch New York

The dawn of the digital era has led to a huge upsurge in video viewing, but radical changes – such as the migration from linear broadcast TV viewership to streaming video-on-demand content – but changes in audiences’ consumption habits have challenged the live TV advertising.

Panel moderator, and contributor to The Drum, Natan Edelsburg (pictured, far left), noted that a “reality check” around the addressability of TV advertising is overdue given the changing nature of audience’s viewing habits.

He put the question to the assortment of progressive TV experts: “Is the 30 second spot that’s being delivered now on linear, even really going to survive?”

Eric Schmitt, Acxiom, vice president, (pictured above, far right) reminded attendees that amid all the changes ongoing in the industry, huge amounts of money are still being spent on TV advertising, and this simply wouldn’t be the case, if media buyers didn’t think it was providing a return-on-investment.

“I don’t think the 15 or 30 second ad slot is going anywhere, any time fast … you have $50bn dollars going against it [in spend],” he said, adding that a lot of the issues popularly being debated in the industry (such as is Nielsen data a valid currency, etc) were also in question 60 years ago.

“A huge chunk of that has gone in a very efficient process called the UpFront, where you buy huge audiences at very efficient prices,” he said.

For fellow panelist Doug Fleming, Hulu’s head of advanced TV (pictured above, middle), he agreed that 30 and 15 second ad slots will still be about.

Although, he did add that they are going to look a lot different, especially when it comes to constructing a narrative.

For instance, Hulu, which will eventually begin airing live-TV stream in addition to its existing VoD service, is currently strategizing on how it can make this audience addressable to advertisers in a way that can provide as much value as possible.

“We see the marriage of our subscription video service and live coming together for the benefit of the things we can do with subscription, and then see what we can do with that live model,” said Fleming. “We really hope to evolve and change to reflect the way we people consumer TV, and then follow that trend.”

Hulu eventually hopes to offer interactive ad units to advertisers by partnering with outfits such as BrightLine to help them engage with audiences “in the interactive living room” when it eventually launches the live TV service. Currently, this process involves outreach to the advertising industry’s creative community.

Fleming added: “All those capabilities that allow advertisers to not only be more interactive, but gain more information and knowledge from those ad units … we’re strategizing on how we can make that happen in a live environment.”

Randy Cooke, SpotX’s vice president of programmatic (pictured above, inside left) said he believes that once the requisite parts of the industry come together, it opens up the opportunity for brands and agencies to tell “mini-episodes of of a story”.

He added: “So things like if I can tell in 15, or 30 second snippets I can start telling an entire narrative that revolves around my brand, and each installment in that story is contingent in understanding how that device has been exposed in the past, or who has seen previous episodes in that. Plus, if you think that you can add on interactivity … then you start to see we’re just at the starting point here … it’s a very exciting time to be in this business.”

Commenting on the ‘death of the 30 second ad slot’, Jeff Collins, Viant’s chief revenue officer (pictured above, inside right), observed that speculation over the prospect has been around for 15 years, but noted that “the incentive to maintain that 30 second slot is going to be around for quite some time".

The panel formed part of The Drum’s Programmatic Punch event series