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Gary Newman: Network TV Advertising Model Needs to Evolve on Digital Platforms

Gary Newman
Frederick M. Brown/Getty

This column is part of Variety’s Broken Hollywood feature. For more execs and their opinions on the state of Hollywood, click here.

We have an advertising model that is pretty challenged. There are so many commercials inside an hour of television that we’re beginning to train people to use the DVR to skip through them. We have to think about evolving.

Advertising is not going away anytime soon, but we do need to reimagine it, finding ways to know more about who is watching what shows and to target the ads they receive even more.

That data is achievable. It isn’t currently being gathered the way it needs to be. But we can send people commercials in ways that would ensure that they are of far greater interest to them.

There are models that give people the ability to opt in to a traditional commercial pod or a shorter interactive commercial that could be of much greater value to our advertising partners. Those models are hard to utilize on a broadcast network’s linear feed, but as more and more viewing is happening on digital platforms, we have a greater ability to utilize that information.

We can use delayed viewing ultimately to our advantage, as through dynamic ad insertion, where we get a shot at placing new ads in content. That might be a field ripe for these sorts of new technologies that allow targeting demographics and giving people a choice of what ads they see.

Clearly there needs to be a shift in the minds of advertisers out of the live-plus-same-day/C3 system to something more realistic — to C7 or even longer. If they don’t join hands with us and find ways to make sure they’re getting their impressions with us, we will have to find ways of monetizing our content differently.

I get the sense that this is the year many of our advertisers are interested in experimenting to find new ways to make sure their messages are connecting with the audience, whether that’s through marketing partnerships, integrations, sponsorships or much more targeting in the digital space.

Something that has come into stark relief since we (with Fox TV chairman-CEO Dana Walden) have been supervising the network is that the studios and talent need networks to launch their programs. You can have the greatest script in the world, but if you don’t have some platform to start it on, ultimately there’s not going to be any value there.