As the TV industry heads into what The New York Times has called its “$20 billion week“, the annual upfront ad sales season looks a little different.

Traditionally, TV networks have used the May period to showcase their upcoming slate of content, in the hope of securing year-long ad commitments.

But, while content is still on show, now capabilities are just as high on the upfront agenda.

In this video interview with Beet.TV, Marlessa Stivala, Head of Marketing at AudienceXpress, opens up on the changes she is seeing.

Empowering advertisers

“The last few years, we’ve seen so much change where TV itself is not only just spanning more platforms and screens than ever, but it’s really become the full package,” Stivala says.

Stivala adds that the upfronts are now evolving, with more buyers and sellers understanding the importance of accurate delivery and campaign effectiveness.

“This is really empowering advertisers to make sure that they are essentially getting their money’s worth, but really accurately driving their KPIs as accurately as possible.”

Targeting for TV

So, what exactly is being bought and sold?

Stivala sees “more digital-like data-enabled capabilities” on offer, like better targeting, measurement and attribution tools, which enable advertisers to engage more authentically with their target audience.

“It’s no longer just a matter of targeting a specific audience just by age and gender,” she says. “It’s really about making sure that you are finding them where they are and making sure that they are genuinely receptive to your particular brand message.”

New tricks

Using connected TV and other channels, AudienceXpress aims to find the right viewers for advertisers.

AudienceXpress was a company acquired by Comcast in 2015, then rolled into its FreeWheel business as FreeWheel Media, a media solutions team. In 2022, Comcast Advertising renamed it AudienceXpress again.

The outfit boasts capabilities for ad buyers to reach more than 300 million viewers across US nationwide, linear and streaming content, including sight of all 210 DMAs, more than 1,000 local and national broadcast stations, and access to digital MVPDs and pure-plays.

But advertisers don’t just have to target their own prospects. Stivala says they can also reach those of rivals: “If you are, for example, a food delivery brand and you want to maybe target audiences who have been exposed to other food delivery ads, we can let you do that.”

Optimize throughout the campaign

“Once the campaign is midway, our new analytics solution also allows them to have the tools to continuously optimize, to make sure they’re genuinely reaching that audience that they targeted at that initial stage and that they’re consistently delivering on their KPIs, down the full funnel.”

After the campaign, AudienceXpress provides advertisers with insights and measurements to ensure they’ve reached their desired audience and achieved their goals.

“We’re able to empower them with a full line of insights of measurement to make sure that they are seeing those and the full, accurate reach frequency, etc.,” Stivala says.

You’re watching “The TV Upfronts in Transition,” a Beet.TV Leadership Series presented by AudienceXpress, a Comcast Company. For more videos from this series, please visit this page.