LOS ANGELES – Marketers face numerous challenges in reaching the growing number of consumers who divide their time among media outlets that carry advertising and those that don’t. The demand for consumer attention calls for more innovation in ad formats among different kinds of programming, said Adam Gerber, executive director of investment strategy at WPP’s GroupM North America.

“People are paying a lot more attention to the content that they’re watching. They’re more fascinated by all the different shows and streaming services — but at the same time, there’s actually less ad supply available because of the changes in distribution,” Gerber said in this interview with consultant Zach Rodgers at the Beet Retreat conference.

There’s a need to develop advertising models that correspond with programming, while achieving the same look and feel in any media environment, Gerber said.

“Why does news programming have to have the same type of ad model that live sports programming has?” he asked. “Why can’t we come up with different ad models for different types of content?”

Gerber said he has discussed these ideas with others, but the inertia of the past makes it difficult to steer the media and marketing industries into a new direction. It’s similar to trying to change the course of a battleship, he said.

“The reality is that there’s the way that the world works and the way we wish it would work,” Gerber said. “The reality is marketers today have to move product. They’ve got to advertise, and there’s an existing marketplace that’s fairly legacy-driven in terms of its ad model and how it operates.”

Value of Live Programming

Ad inventories are increasingly scarce during live programming like sporting events, whose timeliness gives them a short shelf-life, Gerber said.

“Live programming provides marketers with this very unique opportunity to associate their brands at a culturally relevant moment,” he said. “It also allows them to scale an audience all at once, which is very different from what we’ve seen in the on-demand space.”

Walled Gardens, Identifiers

The media market has become more fragmented as different platforms capture their own data about consumers, but don’t allow a way to share it. That difficulty drives demand for an audience identifier that will help marketers to evaluate the effectiveness of their campaigns, while also respecting consumer privacy.

“We’re going to have to figure out a way to allow identity to cross walled environments or gated environments so that advertisers can manage campaigns at a campaign level, not within siloes,” Gerber said. “Until we get there, we’re going to have the continued inefficiency of frequency and duplication, and quite honestly, bad experience for viewers.”

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