Comcast's ad chief warns the TV industry has gotten 'entitled,' and it better change quickly before Silicon Valley buries it
- Comcast's top ad executive warned that the TV ad industry has gotten too comfortable - and that Silicon Valley companies are coming for its lunch.
- He urged competing media giants to work together to make TV ad buying operate more like giant platforms like Google and Facebook by embracing data, tech, and accountability.
- "Television has been entitled," he said.
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The TV ad industry has had it good - maybe too good - for too long. And if it doesn't wake up and change quickly, it's in deep trouble.
That was the message from Marcien Jenckes, President, Advertising at Comcast, who sat for a keynote interview on Wednesday during his company's annual media summit in New York. The TV industry needs to come together and embrace ad tech and data in a big way or risk getting wiped out by tech giants, he said.
"Television has been entitled," he said. "Because it's so good as a medium ... we didn't as an industry do what we needed to do to make a case for ourselves."
TV needs to make a case that its ad systems can function as seamlessly and precisely as those of giant tech companies. Google, Facebook, and increasingly Amazon, have a major advantage over TV in that advertisers can buy ads that reach huge swaths of people via a single platform, he said.
TV is by nature fragmented, with hundreds of networks and a dozen or so giant conglomerates. So even though it still reaches the majority of the country, data driven TV ads are not nearly as simple to purchase as they are via the tech platforms, Jenckes said.
"We need to learn from the platforms' success," said David Clark, Comcast's Executive Vice President and General Manager, Advanced Advertising. Clark said that the TV business finds itself at a crossroads.
"Where is TV's easy button?" he asked.
Besides promising buying simplicity, the big tech platforms are better at using data to find specific audiences, and also better at proving they deliver tangible results for advertisers. TV has not done enough on these fronts, said Jenckes.
"We didn't do the necessary things to address the weaknesses in our portfolio, and we let somebody else walk in and kind of define the playing field for us," he said.
Jenckes is confident that TV can catch up with the platforms on data, efficiency and proving that ads work - provided all the big TV ad players work together. He recently told Business Insider that Comcast endorses rival AT&T's attempt to build a tech platform for the entire TV ad industry, at least in concept.
"If we all do it differently, if we all do it fragmented, then the same thing is going to happen to every other form of advertising other than television at this point."
That is to say, television ad revenue will decline.
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