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Key Media Industry Leaders Discuss OTT Ad Services at NAB Panel

Variety co-editor-in-chief Andrew Wallenstein sat down with key leaders in the media industry Monday at the Venetian in Las Vegas for NAB to discuss the impact of direct-to-consumer marketing on content and audience engagement.

“I would bucket what we’re looking at at NAB, would be news gathering tools for CBS News, distribution and monetization,” Christy Tanner, EVP and general manager of CBS News Digital, said at the panel co-presented by Accenture. “There’s a third part — a fourth part — that is a real challenge for us in the streaming space, which is the lack of third party measurement. If there’s one area that I would love to see a demonstration, or somebody offer a solution for, it’s third-party measurement of the OTT space.”

Denise Colella, SVP and head of advanced advertising and strategy at NBCUniversal, explained that the company aims to keep its clients on the forefront of advertising technology.

“I’m also here to look at what’s new and what’s exciting with the different vendors that are out there,” she said. “Our job with Adsmart, which used to be our audience studio program, is to bring the best and the brightest of the vendors and capabilities to our clients and help them make audience targeting easier. And it’s also to help them find it exciting and efficient so they can really reach the clients they’re going after and get the best performance out of their campaigns.”

Tanner said that it can be difficult discerning which ad services are the most reliable.

“For CBS as a whole going into the upfront, the quality of content is more important than ever,” she explained. “The trust of the brand and the quality of our output really differentiate us from other ad-supported inventory that is out there. Particularly in the OTT space, we’re seeing new services crop up frequently, all claiming to have free services with ad targeting at scale and, I think not all of that is believable.”

Iván Markman, chief business officer for Verizon, chimed in to explain how Verizon handles ad services that may not be able to deliver on everything they promise.

“Our digital media services power a lot of the mainstream broadcast companies in terms of live-streaming and on the other side, we’ve had substantial digital media inventory,” he said. “Think of it as one side being the traditional digital side and on the other side, more of the TV side, converging. And seeing some of those transformations. So I think for us, somewhat connecting the dots. Brand safety matters. Premium content is an element of that brand safety. Second element is diversity of data, help marketers connect with audiences in their own language, and the third one, which is, how do we make that easy? Easy to buy, easy to operate.”

“Just in the past 18 to 24 months, you’ve seen the TV industry start to fight back a lot more against digital players,” Lynn McMahon, managing director for NY Metro at Accenture, explained. “I think that allows the scale issue to start being addressed, the ability to be able to buy on a larger audience segment. There’s still adoption that has to happen by the advertisers and the agencies to be able to understand, really, how to buy off of that, and that’s kind of the adoption curve.”

Watch the full panel above.

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