The meetings have wrapped, the yachts have been returned to their rightful owners, and all is quiet on the Croisette. Another year of the Cannes Lions Festival has come to an end. All that’s left to do is unpack our bags, sleep off the rosé hangovers, and process what we’ve learned. Regardless of how you spent the festival, the message from Cannes is clear: The Future of TV is Now.
When the Innovid team headed for the Riviera, it was with one goal in mind. We set out to rally the advertising industry around the massive opportunity presented by the rise of connected TV. To make sure this call to action was heard loud and clear from steps of The Carlton to the far end of the Croisette we enlisted some of the industry’s brightest minds, strongest voices, and most passionate leaders to join us for a day of conversations about connected TV, and they answered the call. Global CMOs, world-class journtalists, and industry icons crowded Le Rooftop on June 19th all in the name of exploring the power and opportunity of connected TV. In the coming weeks, we’ll be sharing video from the event, and digging deeper into conversations with some of those industry leaders. But first, we wanted to share some of the big themes we saw play out on our stage overlooking the Mediterranean.
1. Connected TV has arrived
Bob Liodice, CEO of the Association of National Advertisers opened the event with a striking statistic, 70% of U.S. households are now consuming connected TV along with 40% of households in the U.K. With that in mind, it’s no surprise that connected TV conversations dominated Cannes in a clear sign that viewers have embraced connected devices and marketers are ready to meet them there.
However, if you still needed a signal that connected TV has reached mainstream adoption levels, then look no further than the big names and big thinkers that turned out to discuss the issue. CEOs, CMOs, and business leaders representing brands, agencies, and MVPD’s–AT&T's Xandr, Disney, Hulu and Comcast's FreeWheel along with brands like Visa, Microsoft, Sprint and P&G were among the prominent attendees–along with industry press and thought leaders, all assembled to talk about the big ideas and big investments this emerging mass-medium has attracted.
In conversation with Liodice, Procter & Gamble Global Director of Media Gerry D’Angelo summed up the industry’s newfound focus on the opportunity of connected devices. Drawing a comparison to the often invoked “year of mobile” D’Angelo quipped that he was glad to finally see the industry shift focus toward a promising new medium in the form of CTV.
“I was there for all those years when we talked about ‘this was finally the year of mobile’ and I think it’s quite nice that we’re finally talking about something new. I think it’s a huge scale of opportunity.” - Gerry D’Angelo (right), Global Media Director at Procter and Gamble reminded audiences during a dialogue with ANA CEO Bob Liodice (left)
2. There’s power (and money) in getting personal with consumers
The purchase of personalization player Dynamic Yield by McDonald’s last March has touched off speculation that an acquisition wave focused on personalization technology may soon start. Given the number of high-wattage dealmakers on-hand in Cannes we assembled a panel of M&A minds moderated by LUMA Partners Terry Kawaja to discuss what will drive investment in the space. Major technology investors like Sir Martin Sorrell of S4 Capital, Accenture Interactive’s Global President Nikki Mendonça, Xandr’s CEO Brian Lesser, and McDonald’s Corporate VP, Global Media, CRM, Digital Merchandising Bob Rupczynski, were on-hand to discuss their own strategies for targeted investment in personalization tech and how those investments will drive opportunity in connected TV.
“You can have innovation without branding, but you can’t have branding without innovation. Innovation is the key,” said Sir Martin Sorrell, Executive Chairman of S4 Capital on finding a balance between control, efficiency, innovation and branding. Also pictured, from left to right, Terry Kawaja, Founder and CEO, LUMA Partners, Nikki Mendonça, Global President, Accenture Interactive Operations, Accenture, Sorrell, Brian Lesser, CEO, Xandr, and Bob Rupczynski, Corporate Vice President, Global Media, CRM, Digital Merchandising, McDonald’s.
In a wide-ranging discussion, the panelists explored the value of investing in the independent ad tech and martech ecosystem as a hedge against the growing power of the Facebook-Google duopoly, the growing need for incumbent broadcast players to deliver more relevant advertising to viewers, and the importance of remaining customer-centric even when making market shaping investments and acquisitions. Xandr CEO Brian Lesser predicted a future in which traditional media players share more data in an effort to match the personalization capabilities of tech giants like Google, Apple, and Facebook. Such a move would require investment in technology partners that can integrate and act on that data.
This focus on personalization was far from one-sided. While there are obvious advantages for brand marketers in forging a personal connection with the audience, Hulu CEO Randy Freer was quick to raise the human element from the publisher perspective. Speaking to broadcast journalist Katie Couric, Freer pointed to the way that connected TV has transformed the business of distributing content from one that was dependent on Nielsen ratings and other proxy metrics, to one that is increasingly driven directly by human behavior.
“In the traditional television industry you dealt with ratings or impressions, you didn’t deal with people...there was no direct relationship” Hulu CEO Randy Freer (right) told broadcaster Katie Couric (left), highlighting the transformative potential for customer-centricity and addressability in connected TV
3. In the age of data, storytelling is still king
Ultimately, when you set aside the yachts, private beaches, and seaside schmoozing, Cannes is still a celebration of the creativity that sits at the heart of advertising. But the impact of creativity reaches far beyond the Grand Prix winners this year to shape conversations around new technologies, big investments, and the changing focus of TV advertising. Regardless of how big a role new technology plays, advertising is inextricably tied to stories.
Advertising Age Editor-At-Large Jack Neff lead a panel composed of leaders from Disney and Roku on their plans to take advantage of the expanded range of creative options presented by the growing adoption of connected TVs and the widespread use of connected screens. Panelists, along with Innovid’s own co-founder and CTO Tal Chalozin explored the creative potential of connected TV, including the opportunities for new creative executions that will grow out of infusing interactivity and personalization into traditional television advertising. The panel agreed that much of the evolution of connected TV would rest in the hands of the industry’s creatives. Connected TV will reinvent the storytelling canvas for the future.
4. For modern marketers, measurement matters
If there’s a theme that unites the last several years of Cannes Lions Festivals, it’s a growing focus on the importance of measurement. It may seem surprising that a festival celebrating creativity would elevate conversations about metrics and measurability, but in an increasingly commodified world, creatives are eager to finally see the value of their contributions measured and quantified. This year, the measurement spotlight turned to TV where connected TV’s rise is bringing the first real potential for measurement to one of the world’s most powerful advertising mediums.
Innovid’s General Manager, Measurement and Analytics, Jessica Hogue pointed to measurement as central to the development of the connected TV ecosystem. In closing remarks, Hogue echoed calls from fellow panelists for standardization of metrics in service of a less fragmented ecosystem, and shared her believe that such a transparent environment would allow not only for more efficient ad experiences for marketers, but more enjoyable ad experiences for consumers. In effect, collapsing the hard barriers that today separate “content” from “advertising” to create a more seamless experience.
“I think we’ll call it ‘video experience’ as opposed to content and ads” explains Innovid GM of Measurement and Analytics Jessica Hogue, highlighting the value of measurement in creating a transparent environment that serves advertiser and consumer interests. Also pictured, from left to right, Moderator Dylan Byers, Senior Media Reporter NBC News and MSNBC, Pooja Midha, President, TrueX, Anna Bager, EVP of Industry Initiatives, IAB, Hogue, and Jatinder Singh, Global Chief Marketing Sciences Officer, Omnicom Precision Marketing Group
5. Avoid the pitfalls of the past
If there was a through-line that cut through every conversation of the day, it was the need to avoid falling into the traps and pitfalls of digital advertising’s uneven past. Connected TV is a new frontier in much the same way that digital advertising was just a few short years ago. Panelists were eager to find solutions for challenges like ad fraud, opaque walled-gardens, and the lack of industry-wide cooperation around transparency and data sharing that defined digital’s early days.
Panelists called on industry leaders to lean into measurement-driven transparency to ensure that connected TV, like linear before it, doesn’t find itself subject to the fake views and false traffic that have vexed early digital marketers. Similarly, industry leaders called for greater cooperation on all sides of the advertising ecosystem. The past of digital was siloed and opaque, giving rise to numerous walled-gardens that only limited trust between partners.
In connected TV, the potential for the formation of silos is even greater than in digital. A fragmented ecosystem lends itself to the creation of walled-gardens that can’t deliver the scale that modern marketers crave. Unlike in digital where a few dominant players were able to provide scale by virtue of their hegemony, the connected TV space will trend toward fiefdoms if the industry doesn’t make a concerted commitment to openness and collaboration. Only by enabling the free flow of data in a way that preserves consumer privacy can the connected TV ecosystem rise above the challenges that plagued digital and live up to its potential as the successor to traditional TV.
Xandr CEO Brian Lesser suggested that traditional media companies might benefit from pooling or sharing consumer data to offset the personalization advantages of tech platforms.
What to know
Historically, marketers have looked to the outputs of Cannes for inspiration and answers. This year, however, it was a question that was central to the festivities. That question? “What is the future of TV?” When Innovid set our metaphorical sails toward Cannes we knew we’d have to arrive with an answer. That’s why we named our event “The Future of TV is Now.” We think the results speak for themselves and confirm our confidence in our original answer, and we look forward to sharing more of what we learned.