24 MAY 2023

What is the current state of TV advertising?

On May 23 and 24, Ad Age virtually hosted its “State of TV Advertising” event, where ad sales leaders, as well as top agency, brand and measurement executives, discussed changes in the industry and how buyers and sellers are adapting in 2023.

24 MAY 2023

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On May 23 and 24, Ad Age virtually hosted its “State of TV Advertising” event, where ad sales leaders, as well as top agency, brand and measurement executives, discussed changes in the television industry and how buyers and sellers are adapting in 2023. In addition to panels with specialists who chat about particular topics, representatives of some of the largest media companies gave their opinion on the current state of the advertising market.


After some opening remarks from Jeanine Poggi, Editor at Ad Age, the virtual event kicked-off with John Halley, President of Paramount Advertising at Paramount, who talked about when did he think streaming was going to overtake linear TV when it comes to advertising. “The migration is definitely happening right now. Streaming advertising is growing at a pretty towards pace. Even in the face of an ads slowdown, our digital business is twice as what it was three years ago, both in the amount of the advertisers and the amount they spend. Just to benchmark where Paramount is, we have a digital video business that is approaching US$3 billion and represents about 40% of our total ad revenue, excluding live sports,”  the executive said.


Jon Steinlauf, Chief US Advertising Sales Officer at Warner Bros. Discovery, also participated in the event and shared his thoughts about the relaunch of the company’s HBO Max streaming service as Max. “It doubles the size of HBO Max in terms of content. That is because the content experience has overnight doubled to include the best titles from the legacy Discovery brands. With that comes a lot of scale for advertisers. As a Max advertiser now you are getting a full plethora of the Warner Bros. Discovery portfolio,”  Steinlauf explained.


Meanwhile, Donna Speciale, President of US Advertising Sales and Marketing at TelevisaUnivision, referred to one of the biggest announcements the company did in its Upfront presentation: the Spanish broadcast of the next Super Bowl, one of the most coveted and valued sporting events in terms of commercials. “We are really excited about that. It was really important for the National Football League to have a broadcast partner in Spanish language. The response from advertisers has been amazing,”  Speciale commented.


Kim Kelleher, Chief Commercial Officer at AMC Networks, talked about the ad strategy of AMC+, the streaming service the company launched in 2020. “We are excited to launch ads on it because it helps us round out the ecosystem that we are bringing to our advertising partners. It was kind of the last missing piece to supplement the linear, CTV and digital. With this AMC+ offering, you really have an opportunity to reach our viewers wherever and whenever the want to engage with our content,”  Kelleher explained.


A+E Networks also had its space at the event, and it was Peter Olsen, its President of Ad Sales, who provided his vision on streaming ads and the company's strategy, which bets on a more open business model. “Let’s put ourselves in the consumers’ head. To them, it is just TV or video. We talk a lot about these terms like linear, digital, streaming and all that stuff, but the consumers just want to watch good content, in most of the cases in a big television screen. Five years ago, we decided that it was not going to be easy to build a platform and keep all the content in there. In the last 12 month we started to see that the companies that indeed did that are now starting to sell content to other parties. The ‘sell to all’ approach we took five years ago is proving a wiser move,”  he said.


For Marianne Gambelli, President of Advertising Sales, Marketing and Brand Partnerships at Fox Corporation, it is all about differentiation. “Fox is different. Our portfolio is different, the way we approach the marketplace is different, and the way we approach advertisers is different. That is why our Upfront presentation was more inclusive. The audience was with us, they were part of what we did,”  Gambelli assured.


On Wednesday, Rita Ferro, President of Advertising Sales at The Walt Disney Company, spent some time talking about the economy and the uncertainty it generates on advertisers. “It is a dynamic marketplace right now. I think marketers are going to do fewer but more strategic deals with the right partners. The scale of our streaming business allows us to play really dynamically in a marketplace that is predominantly programmatic today. I think we are going to see advertisers holding back money to really drive value, and we are also going to see much more from real time decisioning around budgets and how they are spent,”  Ferro analyzed.


During the Upfronts, Netflix announced that its ad-supported plan has nearly 5 million monthly active users globally. During AdAge’s event, Peter Naylor, VP of Advertising Sales at Netflix, talked about the success of the AVOD offering. “The demand for our AVOD tier is big. People love the product that we have. The engagement is really high and the ad load is really low. We feel good about where we are right now, even though we are still in early days,”  Naylor commented.


In its own Upfronts, YouTube announced the introduction of 30-second unskippable ads in top-performing YouTube content. Brian Albert, Managing Director of US Agency Video, Google and YouTube at Google, talked about the feedback he received from clients after the event. “We feel that advertisers can really understand the value that YouTube can bring to their business. YouTube is the place where consumers really go deep with the creators and content they love. Moreover, YouTube is number one across all screens, and we are able to deliver higher ROI than TV and online video,”  Albert assured.

By Federico Marzullo