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Week In Review: Digital Ad Guys Are The New Black; Worldz Is Worth It

1. Digital Ad Guys Are The New Black

Fox made a very smart, and at the time daring move a few months back when they hired TV[R]EV friend Joe Marchese to run their ad sales team. Joe has been preaching the need for TV advertising to transform itself for many years, and he’s already been putting some of that into practice, with innovative six-second spots and native ad units at FX, among other things.

So we’ve been wondering when the other networks would follow suit and this week two of them did.

CBS hired Facebook and digital vet David Lawenda to oversee sales on its digital properties and AT&T hired GroupM CEO Brian Lesser to be CEO of a new advertising and analytics platform for all their new Time Warner assets. (Assuming the deal goes through, which seems highly likely.)

Why It Matters

While it remains to be seen what Lawenda and Lesser will actually be doing, both moves indicate that the industry is realizing that the current ad model needs revamping.

We’ve often joked that being in ad sales at one of the big networks was, until a few years ago, the best job in America. You could make a seven-figure salary, and if say you were working at NBC in the 90s, selling advertisers on Friends and Seinfeld was pretty seamless.

That’s all changed however, as time shifting, quantum viewing in particular, turned that model on its head. (Quantum viewing is the ability, popularized by Netflix, to start watching a show on one device and pick it up on another. As you might expect, it plays havoc with traditional ratings.)

That’s why the networks are now scrambling to figure out alternate revenue streams, starting with digital. They need people who haven’t fed at the trough for all those years, people who are wiling to take some risks and try out formats and formulations that are outside the mainstream.

The changes to the TV advertising ecosystem are still, as the aforementioned Joe Marchese said of the Open AP system, “baby steps.” We’re still a long way from widespread addressable delivery or even addressable delivered in real time based on demographics, location and device.

It won’t be a straight path ahead—there is still much resistance from all quarters and much that is unknown. But it’s still a step in the right direction.

What You Need To Do About It

If you’re a network or MVPD and you’re producing your own content, then you need to figure out what the future of monetization looks like for your company and hire people who can execute on it.

If you’re an advertiser, you need to accept that interruptive thirty-second ads are no longer as effective as they once were, and adjust your marketing accordingly.

2. Worldz Is Worth It

We weren’t really sure what to expect from the Worldz Conference that three TV[R]EVers attended last week. The speakers sounded interesting as did the subject matter, and we were pleasantly surprised (and then some) by the result.

Worldz reminded us of SXSW circa 2006, before the brands and ad agencies and marketers took it over. A fascinating collection of quirky people doing some very, very cool things.

The kind of place where we did a session that involved a 30 minute guided meditation by a former international DJ turned meditation app entrepreneur. The kind of place where biohacking and branded content strategies each received all sorts of love. A place where the person sitting next to you was happy to talk to you just because you were both in the same room, not because they’d done a drive-by on your name tag and decided you were worthy of a few minutes of attention. At least until the next target came along

Why It Matters

Because so many industry conferences tend to blend together and feature people talking about things you already know. Worldz was anything but, and the thrill of learning for learning’s sake is a huge boost to just about any team.

One highlight for us was meeting Reddit CEO Alexis Ohanian and talking to him about what Reddit is up to these days, learning how they’re reinventing themselves to appeal to brands who are looking for more engaged communities than they can find on Twitter.

What You Need To Do About It

Get on the mailing list and show up next year. It’s 100% worth it.