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The REVisionists: Inscape’s Jodie McAfee on OTT Unlocks New Audiences & Revenue

Jodie McAfee asks provocative questions. Right now, from the media industry’s point of view, the excitement around OTT advertising mostly revolves around TV networks finding new, ‘extra’ audiences and revenue.

But looking ahead, the SVP of sales and marketing at Inscape wonders when OTT advertising will actually displace pricey, premium linear TV advertising as a more desirable, valuable form of advertising that packs greater impact.

In other words, “When does OTT become less add-on and more, ‘this is better than TV?” he wonders.

“There will be two paths that cross,” he said. “I don’t know if you’ll ever see all premium, linear TV ads go fully programmatic.” What happens when those two trend lines cross? “The strength of linear TV remains its ability to deliver lots of eyeballs at once. What happens when OTT’s ability to do that eclipses old school TV’s?”

“Does that redefine everyone’s concept of premium inventory? I think we’re going to hit an inflection point,” he said. “Somebody will say, ‘Oh wait, hold on. Actually a 15-second pre-roll on an OTT show is more valuable to me than a 30-second spot within a middle pod and midway through an episode of CSI.”

Perhaps more interesting, he asks “What happens when networks gain the ability to manage addressable direct to TV devices?” Fewer ads, better ads, higher rates for brands, but worth it. “A better experience for the viewer ultimately.” At that point, the definition of OTT changes again.

Jodie McAfee


What is your company doing to transform TV advertising?

Inscape delivers glass-level TV transparency and near real-time viewing data to tech providers, networks and agencies. This data helps everyone in the TV ecosystem unlock additional revenue, make decisions with greater certainty and move at the speed of the digital age. We are the backbone of TV attribution models and the key ingredient for cross-platform planning tools. We are also making some huge strides working with networks on addressable solutions inside of linear and VOD.


What are the opportunities for your company in OTT advertising?

Glass-level content and ad verification at a massive scale give us the ability to feed the booming OTT marketplace with fast, reliable data to build a business around. We are getting baked into almost every significant innovation happening between networks, agencies and ad tech platforms. From better attribution to planning and buying, addressable advertising to cross-platform targeting, Inscape data is influencing OTT advertising from multiple directions.


What’s wrong with the conversation right now?

There are so many rapid changes happening in TV and the landscape is incredibly fluid. There is a ton of innovation being developed by super smart people. But some companies get out over their skis and, sadly, some are peddling vapor. This only serves to cause confusion, resulting in a slower education and adoption curve, and causes delays in the market transition to digital-like TV.


Where are the biggest challenges for the industry?

Networks need to find more ways to cooperate with each other, take advantage of new technologies and keep up with data-driven streaming platforms like Amazon, Netflix and Roku. The industry needs to move quickly to solve addressability in OTT and understand how to serve different ads to different audience segments who are watching the same programming.


What percentage of TV advertising will become addressable by 2020?

The industry will be lucky to see 10 percent by 2020 (including linear), but there will be an inflection point as the technology stacks that service TV start to streamline.


What is the biggest threat to a thriving OTT environment?

Established media companies move too slowly, while companies like Netflix and Amazon continue to increase offerings to viewers and build intelligence around consumer preferences and recommendation engines.


Who wins and who loses (one sentence each)?

Everyone wins when viewers have a better experience: more relevant ads mean higher CPMs, for example.

Media companies that continue to rely on legacy systems and old, slow data sets will lose.


What development do you think is most important to watch right now?

Business outcome-based measurement and planning is reshaping TV with increased momentum. Addressable will gain steam and hit an inflection point in the next 24 months.


How do you think networks will adjust the upfronts?

The upfronts are not going away any time soon. But you’ll see more emphasis on audience and segment-based buying, outcome-based guarantees, and the concept of “currency” will evolve. Inscape data will be squarely in the middle of that evolution.


What has more upside? Addressable TV advertising or OTT? Or do they converge?

They converge.


Who ends up controlling budgets for OTT? Digital buyers? TV buyers? Advanced TV specialists?

Brands hold the checkbooks and increasingly will start to set the rules.