Digital Transformation Agency

Future of Media: Faking Abba and Bruce Willis - sort of, experts ponder what's next for TV


By John McCarthy | Media editor

September 9, 2021 | 9 min read

Welcome to your weekly Future of Media briefing from media editor John McCarthy. You can get a more comprehensive version sent to your inbox here - if you'd prefer.

Everything you need to know about TV advertising

Regular readers of this newsletter will know that we're obsessed with TV's swagger (or stagger) into the digital advertising space. The quality of TV, paired with the power of data and targeting, excites some of you. Maybe many of you.

So first up, Cara Lewis, executive vice-president and head of US media investment at Dentsu, reflected on the evolution of the medium throughout her career, from the infancy of the cable networks to their disruption. Innovation is, after all, cyclical and the push to cable has a lot in common with TV's digital transformation. Nothing is new.

Future of Media

From her tale, what struck me is that the media heads over at Dentsu used to laugh at what TV could evolve into, then years later, they helped it become the very thing they were joking about.

Lewis said: "It was the very early days of search, and the future vision of the internet being a destination for premium content that could air dog food commercials in front of dog owners was something we laughed about at lunches... now not only do we target what kind of dog owner a consumer is, we can target at scale across digital and TV platforms while also determining if that ad delivered a business outcome. Those lunchtime laughs proved to be real life, and have shaped our future state."

This reflective piece is jam-packed with insight. It helps to look back to know what lies ahead. But we've also got the future-gazing covered.

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Paul Gubbins, head of strategic partnerships at Publica, talked us through seemingly ALL of the innovation we've seen in the CTV space this last year. This is his bread and butter and is hopefully quite accessible to newbies too... what stood out for me was the following point:

"The CTV ad ecosystem is in a very similar position to mobile in the app space a decade ago. Back in 2010, I was heading up sales for what was then one of the first mobile DSPs (StrikeAd, acquired by Sizmek), and the buy and sell-side conversations were very similar to those I am having today. Users, just like back then, were increasingly migrating to free ad-supported apps – now it is TVs instead of mobiles."

We can get ahead of the future if we learn from the past... read it here.

And finally, some fresh research from Roku showing consumer hunger for AVOD channels. Personally, it hurts my head to just think about the sheer number of channels hidden in my TV, be it via the Samsung TV, Roku or Amazon Fire Stick plugged in there. Every time I dive in, I'm surprised by who has released a channel I didn't know existed (looking at you FailArmy TV).

So read that research here.

As a media editor whose job is to know these platforms, I find it overwhelming. But people are finding this content and watching it, so who am I to judge? The bigger question is how prominent will viewing in these channels be?

I'm of the opinion that the quality of SVOD output has declined this last year – is that the pandemic factor, or the fact I've just needed more media? Regardless, I believe the quality between SVOD output and AVOD output has closed and more people will be finding these channels in the coming years.

Yippee-ki-yay Willis faker

Newsletters – the perfect place to dump rejected headlines like the one above. You see I interviewed Maria Chmir, the founder of a Russian deepfake business that helped one of the nation's top telecom companies create an ad that starred Bruce Willis... without really starring him.

The deepfakes, ladies and gentlemen, are here. And they work. Mostly. Pepsi having already used the tech to localize a Leo Messi campaign in countless languages indicated a practical use. This campaign hints at an even more ambitious future and could spark a bidding war around the image rights of our most beloved celebrities. I had a lot of fun writing this one and there are tons of practical tips for anyone considering a deepfake ad campaign.

Now a plea to Ryan Reynolds – you must be tired from starring in all those ads. Take a leaf out of Willis's book...

Read it here.

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