2023 Predictions Recap
The number of big changes reaching a crescendo in today’s media landscape feels never-ending…
- The coming wave of AI disruption driven by big data and compute advancements
- Higher interest rates ending the era of free money
- A generational shift in the way media, especially premium video, is consumed
- And a fragmented media landscape seeking ways to scale-up to compete with Big Tech
Yet, it’s the attempt to think clearly about what’s to come, while remaining agile, that will define the winners and losers in the next era of media.
Before diving headfirst into 2024’s ring of industry prognostications, I find it productive to look back and assess last year’s predictions performance. Not because I’m a glutton for punishment, but instead because it’s through this reflection that I’m able to better tune my compass to navigate the unsteady waters of the next several years.
Humans often make two errors when attempting to predict the future: overestimating change in the short term and underestimating change in the long run. While I fall victim to the former, I remain acutely aware and optimistic about the profound and expansive transformations that will be unfolding in the media landscape over the coming years.
As I looked back on last year’s predictions (which I intelligently rebranded to “hope raisers”) – I realized something glaringly obvious. While I cannot give myself full credit for any single one of them, I remain 100% convinced of their future and see ample supporting evidence to remain steadfast in my beliefs.
So, without further ado, let’s dive into the evidence…
1. Convergent TV will be simplified via industry realignment, recessionary reactions, and regulations
The starting gun for the great reordering of the media industry has yet to sound, but the 2023 media market demonstrated ample evidence of a looming realignment.
- Comcast agreed to sell its remaining Hulu stake to Disney
- Charter and Disney’s negotiations took center stage over the summer
- Apple TV+ and Paramount+ are reportedly exploring bundle to take on Max/Netflix
- Verizon announced its customers an ad-supported Max and Netflix bundle
While it is becoming abundantly clear that the future of CTV is driven by consumer choice, the current viewing experience is starting to show its seams as choice overload takes hold.
As the industry realigns, it still seems logical that reaggregation (of content, ad inventory, and even data) is not only coming, it’s inevitable.
2. AI-Driven TV will become ‘a thing’ and fuel the next wave of growth
You couldn’t join a panel without someone talking about the coming wave of AI transformation. In many ways, it has actually been here for a while (content discovery, audience segmentation, ad optimization), but its full potential is only now becoming visible to the general public with the rapid acceleration of ML and Generative AI.
Some media companies should be commended for dipping toes into the AI waters (such as Charter’s announcement to partner with Waymark to introduce AI-driven TV-quality ad creative into the buying process), but as a whole, the media ecosystem is still in the planning and experimentation phase of utilizing AI.
It's still too early to say how AI will disrupt media, but it’s not too early to assert that it will.
3. Accurate big data will fuel TV
Last year I asserted the following:
“There are few TV companies that possess the necessary trained data scale to generate quality optimization models … Some will be able to go-it-alone, but more will require a partnership mentality across the distribution supply chain …
…data will need to be aggregated. With the vast identifier fragmentation, companies with first-party identity data will become the centerpiece for facilitating this collaboration.
Another example of us being in the early stages, but we are starting to see many industry players coming to realize that 50% of the data used for targeting is wrong. In response, companies are increasingly prioritizing first-party data partnerships to strengthen accuracy.
With the cat finally out of the bag (and the probabilistic accuracy problem now clear), expect much more to come on this in 2024…
4. ‘Clean rooms’ and ‘Clean tech’ will re-shape the data pipeline by adding further privacy and data protections
2023 was another banner year for Data Clean Rooms / Collaboration Platforms. Amazon Web Services threw its hat into the ring in late 2022, and followed up with a series of product and customer announcements throughout the course of 2023. In rolling out its Data Hub, OpenAP continued its partnership with Snowflake.
Zooming out from the low-level infrastructure players, we are seeing companies like Blockgraph make inroads in developing ecosystem-specific clean room applications to support first-party data collaboration in the premium video ecosystem.
5. Addressability and cross-platform measurement will become table stakes
After declaring this true for ~20 years (or so it feels), we are now finally seeing addressable TV begin to realize its full potential (thanks in no small part to the Go Addressable initiative).
With intent to use Addressable TV (which includes both Linear and CTV) having doubled from 25% to 50% between 2021 and 2023, and 85%+ of buyers satisfied with Addressable opportunities, this is a big (and underreported) story. Addressable is finally reaching meaningful scale. TV is dead, long live (addressable) TV.
6. Programmatic platforms will evolve identity approaches for converged TV
Last year I emphasized the key difference between open web/digital (person-level, email represents a person) versus CTV (household-level, emails and device IDs are shared).
While studies like the above referenced Truthset analysis calling attention to the email accuracy problem will take time to make their way through the buying community, I remain hopeful that the programmatic industry will evolve its thinking on CTV identity. By evolving Universal IDs that are largely derived from email into those that also tap into authenticated household identity, such as what MVPDs/vMVPDs/ISPs (“MSOs”) can offer via Blockgraph, programmatic platforms will be able to better service their buyer clients in facilitating accurate targeting, reach / frequency management, and measurement / attribution.
It makes sense that innovative, well-funded challenger DSPs like Madhive, took a proactive position on incorporating direct MSO identity integrations. I suspect this will serve them, and advertiser customers, well as they better match clients first-party data to MSO first-party data through an identity framework that makes sense for TV.
I got this prediction right, albeit just in time…
As I stand on the precipice of 2024, I can't help but reflect on a tumultuous 2023—a year that tested our mettle and pushed the boundaries of the media and TV ecosystem. It was a year where the headwinds of change challenged us, but also a year that surfaced many opportunities for those able to see the forest for the trees and adapt their business.
Make no mistake, 2024 won't be a cakewalk to stability; it promises its own set of trials and all current players won’t emerge unscathed. However, I'm convinced that the relentless effort to reinvent our industry is on the verge of paying off for those who stick it through.
The adage of my alma matter “those who stay will be champions” rings true for the TV ecosystem. It’s a call that echoes through the tumult of media’s generational transformation. For us operating in the transformation trenches, it won’t be about mere endurance; it will be an active stance of innovation, adaptation, and unwavering commitment to what made TV great in the first place – quality, broad reach, and storytelling to engage audiences while allowing brands to authentically connect with them through sight, sound, and motion.
Those of us who remain steadfast and visionary as data, AI, and consumer habits reshape our industry, will be those champions standing as TV enters its new era.
More to come on what that era will look like tomorrow.
Jason Manningham is Blockgraph's CEO and Co-Founder.