In TV today, it would be easy to have a glass half-full. Linear audiences were in continuing decline and consumers are tiring of excess ad load.

That was before the pandemic forced broadcasters to lower ad rates.

But those with a glass-half-full outlook see an opportunity – although linear numbers are declining, new opportunities to see, understand and target viewers can nevertheless translate into a greater TV ad effectiveness.

In this video interview with Beet.TV, Lauren Wetzel, the SVP, Head of Strategy & Corporate, at AT&T’s Xandr, contemplates a brighter, converged future.

Offsetting lost scale

“Consumers just aren’t tuned into the same one live stream at the same exact time,” she acknowledges. “They’re consuming in so many different ways in so many different channels, which creates a tonne of complexities to reach them.

“What that means, in terms of the way that the industry needs to think about it, is unifying, automating, planning, activation, and measurement, and attribution.

“All of those audiences that live across those premium environments, we need to find the technology and the data to really connect and allow you to plan and forecast across those screens.

“That’ll help make up for the loss in scale that you’re seeing as traditional TV continues to decline, and also allowing for the way that marketers are starting to really drive towards specific objectives and specific outcomes.”

Upfronts rise and fall

The COVID-19 pandemic of 2020 has already up-ended business. In TV, ad rates have plummeted and advertisers are less likely to commit large sums in upfront air-time commitments.

That means the annual “upfronts” ad sales season, when broadcasters preview their upcoming slate of content to ad buyers, looks particularly challenging this year.

But, for Wetzel, wider broadcast and ad technology changes already meant the “upfronts” were evolving.

“The upfronts (will) take a little bit of a beating, especially this year,” she says. “I also think the notion of wanting it at a discounted rate will continue.

“But I think there’s a lot of elements of the upfronts that will continue. The notion of marketers still wanting the reach and scale that linear TV offers will continue as a part of their objective.”

Partnership approach

To deliver, Wetzel says Xandr is pursuing a number of partnerships. For example, back in March, AMC Networks, Disney and stablemate WarnerMedia joined Xandr Invest, its TV-buying platform, giving advertises more breadth, 76% of US households.

The broadcast partners said they would make most of their national TV inventory through Xandr Invest, which uses AT&T’s customer data to bosot targeting capabilities.

Xandr also invested in InfoSum, a UK SaaS business that helps facilitate the use of brands’ first-party data in ad targeting.

“With the market trends you the industry being disrupted, I think that everyone needs to come together,” Wetzel says.