Paramount Advertising President John Halley says the current marketplace, with free and subscription streaming, digital inventory and linear TV as well as uncertainty about measurement is “a big mess” for both buyers and sellers.
Nevertheless, Halley asserted during a keynote appearance at Paramount’s TV Now conference, “we’re going to work toward a better future.” His remarks came during a Q&A session with Evan Shapiro, a former cable and streaming exec who opened the half-day event with an overview of his “media map” and related insights about shifts in consumer habit and the business landscape.
Change has defined Halley’s tenure since being promoted to the top ad role in an exec shuffle last fall. He has contended with an ad market that softened notably in 2022 but one showing signs of a rebound in recent months. Even as dollars are flowing back into the overall ad market, though, where they are headed remains a question. Traditional media companies like Paramount face a complicated process of managing traditional broadcast, cable, streaming and digital platforms and blending it together for advertisers. The TV Now event didn’t just put Paramount management onstage. Speakers included execs from Warner Bros. Discovery, NBCUniversal and other divisions of Comcast, as well as various third-party vendors.
“People are watching things via all different inputs,” Halley said of the modern viewing experience. “But the marketplaces trade on the basis of what jack is going into the back of your television, which is a crazy thought. … We have one marketplace trading linear and one marketplace trading digital, and it could be the same person” being targeted separately by advertisers in those respective arenas. Shapiro called that differentiation “totally bonkers” and Halley agreed. “It’s so inefficient,” Shapiro added.
“We’ve got a long way to go, don’t we?” Halley continued. “Yeah, we do,” Shapiro replied. “We’re still at kickoff, basically. We’re not even at the end of the first quarter. But that means there’s only opportunity out in front of us.”
The rise of technology “has caused a lot of dislocation,” Halley said. “But if you look at the past decade, if you look at these issues, when people started paying attention to them, they resolved themselves.