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Q&A: Cadent Is The OG Addressable Pioneer

Addressable is poised for massive growth in 2020. To keep you in the know, TV[R]EV will be coming at you every week with a series of new profiles and videos to shine a spotlight on this trend, starting with this Q&A with Cadent COO Jamie Power.

This interview is part of our new Special Report on Addressable TV Advertising. Written by Mike Shields and Alan Wolk, with an assist from Tom Morgan, the report offers 50 pages of deep dive insight into how addressable TV advertising is bought, sold and measured, who is doing it and where it’s headed.

You can get your copy here.

Back when addressable TV advertising was in its infancy, Jamie Power and the team at Group M were leading the charge, working with the fledgling addressable advertising teams at MVPDs to make this new format happen. In 2017, she left to help found one2one Media, now Cadent, where she’s Chief Operating Officer of addressable and Head of Analytics, and she’s one of the industry’s go-to voices at one of the industry’s go-to technology platforms when it comes to the medium. 

“On a macro level addressable seems super sexy. But from an agency standpoint it is still a major hassle to actually transact,” she notes. “There are no standards for measurement. At all. Everyone’s got their own definition of what an “impression” is. So it becomes very difficult to trade at scale when there is still no common currency for measurement of any kind.”

Jamie Power, COO of Cadent

Alan Wolk (AW): What other challenges are you seeing around adoption right now?

Jamie Power (JP): You have the gap between digital teams and TV teams at agencies. Which is still very real. A lot of the TV investment teams don’t understand the analytics around addressable, which can be around things like business results, not just percentage of audience reached.

The final piece is that addressable is often positioned as the Holy Grail, that if you can just reach your targeted audience, everything will fall into place. And that’s not how we look at it. For many clients, addressable should be used as a supplement, a way to get incremental reach on top of your national TV campaigns.

But it’s not sold that way, and then when brands don’t get the huge lift in sales they were promised, they decide that it’s not worth it. And that’s only because it’s not being used the right way.

AW: How does Cadent look at the addressable universe? Do you see a division between linear and VOD or between set top box and OTT?

JP: We’re looking to get the ads in front of specific consumers. So we tend to divide the world into people who are mostly watching ad-supported TV via MVPD set top boxes and those who are mostly watching via OTT.

Now obviously it’s not going to be that binary, but people who are watching linear TV on a set top box are also going to be the ones watching VOD on a set top box. So that’s one set of customers.

And people who are watching linear on OTT, whether that’s via a vMVPD like Hulu Live TV or via Pluto, those people are also likely to be watching ad-supported VOD apps too.

Because what you want to do is to identify those viewers and reach them within a set period of time. Which could be on linear or it could be on VOD. We think that looking at the TV universe from a viewer-centric POV, across screens, devices, formats and services,makes the most sense.

AW: How much do you think the ‘Flixcopalypse’ is going to change the addressable landscape?

JP: It has the potential to make things much more difficult. Because right now, I can get a pretty good idea of frequency buying addressable through MVPDs or through Roku. But if all the networks start running their own shows on their own platforms, then fragmentation gets out of control and it’s very hard to keep track of how frequently you are hitting a particular consumer. That’s going to be especially true when they all first launch and we have no idea what their viewership is going to look like and you won’t be able to project anything out.

That makes it really hard to figure out the ROI on addressable too, because you can’t account for frequency or where the ads are watched. And this inconsistency is really what’s holding addressable back: the networks and platforms all need to rally behind some common currency so that we can trade impressions at scale across all of the various networks and apps and MVPDs. Otherwise the model just doesn’t work. It may give higher per spot yields in the short term, but in the long term, it’s just not workable.

AW: Looking five or ten years down the road, do you think that most TV advertising is going to be sold on an addressable basis?

JP: I think that for most brands addressable is going to be a complement to their traditional ad spend. It goes back to something Irwin Gottlieb used to say, and it’s still true: if you could finally afford a Mercedes when you were 40, but you’d never seen a Mercedes ad before because you weren’t part of their desired demo, then there would be zero brand equity built up. And that’s not what brands want. We see addressable as a way to increase frequency for qualified audiences. That’s where it’s most effective.

The other factor is creative: for big brands, a commercial can easily cost over one million dollars. And you don’t want to spend that kind of money and only show the ad to a few people, and you don’t have millions to make different ads for different audiences. That’s something that gets lost in all the enthusiasm about addressable.

AW: How do you see addressable playing out over the next five years? How should brands be looking at buying it?

JP: Cadent has built out a platform that allows brands to buy addressable. And what we’ve done is we look at the ROI of all the different platforms—linear, VOD, TV Everywhere, OTT—and we made that the centerpiece. Because different platforms are viewed differently—some are more lean-in, more are more lean-back—and that affects how valuable that impression is going to be.

AW: What about walled gardens?

JP: If we’re not thoughtful in the way that we’re surfacing data to the advertisers, we’re going to lose the marketplace. And everyone trying to wall off data in their own little walled garden ecosystems makes no sense at all. We can be so much more thoughtful about reach and frequency across all different screen.

But if everyone is closed off, then it’s like we’ve taken 20 steps backwards. The only way the industry is going to move forward is if everyone works together to aggregate audiences at scale across all different screens so that we can make sure that we’re talking to consumers in the most relevant environment with the most relevant message. The technology and the data to do this exists.

AW: What has you most excited about the future of addressable?

JP: For the past 50 years we’ve been trading on probabilistic data but now we finally have the ability to collect deterministic data and we could build real models off of it. And I say “could” because in order to make that happen and move the market forward, everyone needs to figure out how to work together.

The MVPDs must come together and leverage all the set top box data, and all the networks must come together in a consortium that leverages all the ACR data so we can finally have deterministic measurement. Once we have all that data in place, we’re not guessing any more. We’re working with real numbers based on real viewing patterns. And if the industry can just embrace that, addressable TV advertising can finally live up to its full potential.