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Did Zuck Open a Window in Time for Upfronts?

As we enter the big ad media buying season, some might think TV networks are licking their lips. The Facebook privacy fiasco, if nothing else, sets the stage for reminding brands where the safe money goes: premium, linear, VOD, controlled OTT and perhaps most importantly:  NOT some algo-jacked unprotected platforms where ads from Russian bots compete with fine American brands (with goods likely produced in China). Of course, it’s not that easy.

While any knucklehead can (rightly) knock FB for many a thing they did wrong, deep down most marketers know this truth: Zuck took one for the team. Because let’s be real, the future is personalized and data-driven (and maybe kind of creepy). FANG all have these things in common: they predict using your data and they outperform data-less feeds and perhaps most concerning– they are SO FAR ahead of the regulators. 

For these reasons, TV networks aren’t resting on anti-duopoly, “brand safety” laurels.  After all, they are trying to sell against better targeting and custom, segment-based buying. And you know, it works. TV will need to argue that it works too. And it will need to start coughing up some proof.

Making matters more difficult: media conglomerates aren’t simply battling the digital or the Netflix juggernaut. Together, they are battling every damn thing that takes up time that didn’t just months ago– such as people who are now sifting through Uber Eats (like it’s the fridge and new things will magically appear ten minutes later). Yup, there are lucrative “brand experiences” waiting inside all of that. (Cough, Amazon).

And so, the networks such as TNT and TBS are being smart. Taking on the role of multi-platform storytellers, developing and deploying IP where customers are (everywhere) and building value for brands in all those scenarios is the only way to stay relevant and competitive. And of course, to be smart multi-platform storytellers, data is the gasoline that makes it all go. The good stuff, like what Facebook has. Or even better, the device graphs from mobile devices to connected TVs and purchase behaviors.

This means we’ll also be seeing networks start to tout attention measures down to the individual ad and attribution guarantees tied to TV spends. While not quite TV as pay per click, we have no choice but that direction.

The point here? Data extraction and utilization is going nowhere and Zuck likely just opened up a window to let TV networks come to the Upfronts with a more compelling data story to tell. At least for TV networks with the savvy to say it right and do it right.