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Pre-Upfronts Event Reinforces the Growing Importance of CTV, Identity Solutions

3 MINUTE READ | March 10, 2023

Pre-Upfronts Event Reinforces the Growing Importance of CTV, Identity Solutions

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Abby Long

Abby is PMG’s senior managing editor, where she leads the company’s editorial program and manages the PMG Blog and Insights Hub. As a writer, editor, and marketing communications strategist with nearly a decade of experience, Abby's work in showcasing PMG’s unique expertise through POVs, research reports, and thought leadership regularly informs business strategy and media investments for some of the most iconic brands in the world. Named among the AAF Dallas 32 Under 32, her expertise in advertising, media strategy, and consumer trends has been featured in Ad Age, Business Insider, and Digiday.

The Trade Desk hosted Forward ‘23 this week, a pre-upfronts event that gathered some of the world’s largest TV networks, including NBCUniversal, Disney, Fox, Paramount, and Warner Bros. Discovery, to discuss the state of the TV ecosystem. As each TV conglomerate took to the stage to present its latest offerings, one thing was clear: The broader TV marketplace is undergoing a rapid transformation as streaming CTV and programmatic TV advertising are playing bigger roles than ever before.

Key Takeaways
  • The Trade Desk’s Forward ‘23 event provided new learnings and fresh perspectives on the state of TV. 

  • With some of the biggest networks and streaming services now touting their own ad-supported streaming TV offerings, we expect the 2023 upfronts season will see TV networks focus more on advanced identity solutions and ad sales tied to streaming TV offerings. 

  • NBCUniversal announced at The Trade Desk event that it would integrate the identity solution Unified ID 2.0 (UID2) for its streaming service Peacock across platforms. 

The Trade Desk’s Forward ‘23 was a one-day event in New York City that offered a unique opportunity to hear from advertising executives hailing from NBCUniversal, Disney, Warner Bros. Discovery, Fox, and Paramount, on their respective plans to sell streaming TV inventory and what could be expected in the year ahead. While ad spending tied to CTV accounts for “just $16 billion of the larger $250 billion TV market,” according to analysts, it was no coincidence that each of the media conglomerates that took to the stage now offers their own ad-supported streaming TV platforms.

As one of the first events of its kind, The Trade Desk’s one-day summit signaled the growing popularity—and influence—of CTV advertising on the broader TV landscape. Attendees from media networks, agencies, and tech partners focused on identity and measurement solutions. According to Variety, the event was also notable in that both Fox and Paramount presented to advertisers, a rare occurrence for the networks as neither is “known for discussing plans regularly in public.” 

Joe Cady, EVP of advanced advertising at NBCUniversal, announced at Forward ‘23 that after an assessment of the current slate of identity solutions from across the programmatic landscape, NBCUniversal selected Unified ID 2.0 (UID2) and would be partnering with The Trade Desk to bring the solution to Peacock “across all devices and consumer touchpoints, including on CTV, the web, apps, Roku, and FireTV.”

According to the press announcement, NBCUniversal joins Disney, Paramount, and FuboTV in integrating UID2 as industry-wide adoption of privacy-first identity solutions continues to grow. UID2 is currently in final product testing on Peacock, with the solution going live for all advertisers next month. On stage at Forward ‘23, Cady outlined that UID2 would “help [advertisers] with addressability, [and] add to efficiency and effectiveness” on Peacock. 

As brand advertisers increasingly seek a more dynamic and data-driven TV-buying environment, CTV, paired with advanced identity solutions, is growing more popular by the day. A recent survey found that “a majority of advertisers (59 percent) believe their annual upfronts TV-buying plans for 2023 will prioritize CTV or a mix of CTV and linear TV to support each other, building on the same strategy deployed in 2022.” Analysts note that “a little more than half of CTV ad budgets in 2022 were allocated upfront (54 percent),” with brand advertisers expecting that share to increase up to 56 percent this year.

As for the effectiveness of UID2, Lisa Valentino, EVP of client solutions and addressable enablement at Disney Advertising, spoke highly of the technology, noting at Forward ‘23 that Disney has seen upwards of 80 percent match rates since first implementing UID2 in July 2022.

“For brands with rich, first-party databases, early successes using UID2, such as Disney’s, bolster the value of enabling privacy-first advertising, presenting a unique opportunity and first-mover advantage for those eager to complement the effectiveness of CTV advertising with advanced privacy-first solutions,” said Shawn Walter, programmatic director at PMG, who attended The Trade Desk’s event this week.

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“With NBCUniversal announcing the rollout of UID2 in the weeks to come, the upfronts provide a great opportunity for further collaboration between traditional and digital media buyers. We will continue to see brands incorporate these advancements into their media mix and plan for the upcoming upfronts."

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