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Ad Tech Takes Center Stage at the 2024 Upfronts

Throughout May, television content providers and broadcast networks touted their hot celebrities and new programming on their streaming platforms to turn heads, but it’s the advertising technology that stole the show this year. While streaming services and content were a pillar at last year’s Upfronts, Streaming Steals the Show at Upfront Week 2023, ad technology was a major topic addressed across every presentation. Though, some new programs from the main streaming platforms did stand out; Amazon is coming out with Elle (a prequel to Legally Blonde), Max is releasing a second season of House of the Dragons, Hulu announced their new stand-up comedy brand called “Hulu’s Laughing Now”. Aside from all the amazing programs coming out on streaming, ad tech will shape the future of advertising; how consumers interact with brands, how advertisers measure performance and how brands can ensure they’re reaching the right audience. Why? Well, let’s get into it.

Promises from Ad Tech

We first need to understand why ad tech is so important to advertisers including attraction, destination, and outdoor brands. To put it simply, ad tech takes the guess work out of planning. Gone are the days of aligning network programming by the highest ratings for an audience demo. Ad tech allows marketers to identify the right audience, beyond just a demographic. This leads to maximum efficiency and eliminates budget investment on wasted impressions delivered to the wrong audience. So, step aside basic demographic targeting and let’s see how it’s done. This new ad tech will make sure that every impression is put to best use! With the networks’ newest announcements, we see the evolution of technology bringing marketing messages closer and closer to consumers.

Biggest Reveals in Ad tech this year at Upfronts:

  • This is Netflix’s second year hosting an Upfront. They’ve grown their ad-supported subscription base to 11 million subscribers. While “in-market” audiences, someone showing interest in something online (i.e. camping gear or vacation planning), are not new technology, Netflix has joined the party with this offering. Netflix can now create first party audiences based on data collected through any Microsoft property. They call it “Microsoft In-Market Audiences”; basically, they will take insights from their properties such as Bing, Microsoft Edge, LinkedIn profiles, etc. to create custom audiences that advertisers can target with aligned messages and offers.
  • Warner Bros. Discovery is showcasing their ad tech development by offering advanced contextual understanding to align online content with particular ads. For example: if you’re watching a movie and a beach scene is recognized by this technology, a travel ad could be served afterwards. Similarly, Netflix is now offering genre targeting so that ads can be aligned with genres across the platform like romantic comedies, cooking competitions, or horror shows!
  • Both WBD and Televisa Univision introduced shopping capabilities. WBD’s technology allows users to buy products directly from the screen they are watching. Televisa Univision drives users to shop across linear and streaming platforms using QR codes and dedicated URLs.

Elevating Consumer Engagement with Shoppable CTV and Contextual Ad Alignment

This new ad tech creates opportunities for attraction, destination, and outdoor recreation brands to get ahead of the competition. Shoppable CTV via the use of QR codes and dedicated URLs can be implemented in marketing strategies to drive sales, visitation, or memberships. Aligning ads with relevant content drives brand favorability and advertising recall.

Opportunities Through Innovation

In conclusion, at Watauga we know that staying ahead of the curve will allow attraction, destination, and outdoor brands to engage with audiences in a way that has not been done before. The 2024 Upfronts have revealed to us that ad tech is evolving to the benefit of advertisers and Watauga Group loves nothing more than helping our clients take advantage of new innovations and opportunities made possible by technology.

Contact us to discover ways that Watauga Group can help with your media strategy.


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