Ever since the dawn of the digital revolution, change has been  coming to media and advertising. The COVID outbreak has accelerated the inevitable, and the pace of change has sent a shock through the industry. While these tectonic shifts  will jeopardize the future of some companies, they also will mark the birth of many new ones. This month, Signal360 explores how the media and advertising landscape is changing faster than ever before.

Streaming Wars

One dramatic acceleration is the astounding growth of ‘over-the-top’ (OTT) video streaming, both the number of subscribers as well as content providers. Roku has been one of the winners of this change, providing both the technology to access streaming content on TVs, as well as becoming a gateway to the content itself. Signal360 interviewed Scott Rosenberg (VP & General Manager of Platforms, Roku) about the rapidly evolving video streaming landscape and how Roku is expanding as an advertising platform.

Traditional broadcasting companies are not sitting idly by in the streaming wars. In fact, some were ahead of the game. NBCUniversal was one of the founding partners of Hulu 13 years ago, a prescient move despite the predictions of a short life. After Disney acquired Hulu in 2019, NBCUniversal set out to create its own streaming service. Exactly on the day of its July launch, Linda Yaccarino (Chairman of Advertising & Partnerships, NBCUniversal) joined us on stage at Signal2020 to discuss the launch and how it will contribute to the future of NBCUniversal. 

While video streaming is a very visible change in the media and advertising landscape, it is far from the only disruption. This is driven by changes in consumers who are more comfortable than ever to use new technologies to connect for entertainment, information, and social interactions. From virtual influencers to a boom in content and gaming, consumers’ tastes are changing, especially as they leave behind the distinction of online and the real world. We explore some of the latest trends to watch. 

New Ways of Targeting

The rapidly changing digital landscape doesn’t come without significant challenges for advertisers. Some are technical in nature, while others impact our society. Advertisers seek a way to show the right ads to the right people, to increase sales at lowest advertising costs. Digital marketing was seen as a way to realize the ideal of 1:1 marketing at scale. However, with consumers and governments increasingly concerned about privacy, the challenge is how to manage personalization while preserving privacy. We interviewed Anneka Gupta (President, LiveRamp), Deborah Tomlin (former CMO, NortonLifeLock) and Terence Kawaja (Founder and CEO, LUMA Partners) to provide their perspective on identity-based marketing and where it is headed.

Brand Safety and Megabrands

Another challenge for advertisers with both technical and societal implications is the unfortunate continued abundance of harmful, hateful, denigrating, and discriminatory content and commentary on too many digital sites, channels, and feeds. No advertiser wants to be associated with such content, directly or indirectly. In a recent ANA speech Marc Pritchard continued to deliver a strong call to action for the industry to clean up the digital media supply chain. To understand how we got here, we provide background on why the digital media industry seems paralyzed to solve this issue and what a way forward could look like.

Stepping back from the many fast-moving developments across media and advertising, there is a fundamental industry shift taking place. We asked renowned commentator Prof. Scott Galloway (NYU) to provide his perspective on the future of media, advertising, and how we are moving from the brand era into the (digital product) innovation era. He doesn’t shy away from calling the winners and losers of what’s ahead.

We hope that this Signal360 issue will inspire you to further explore the future of advertising and media. To quote famous science fiction writer William Gibson: “The future is already here, it is just unevenly distributed.”

Stan Joosten & John Battelle
Editors-In-Chief, Signal360 / Co-founders, Signal P&G