Video Takeaways from the 2019 IAB Annual Leadership Meeting

Our industry experts from the IAB Video Center of Excellence share their thoughts on video in the direct brand economy and their takeaways from the 2019 IAB Annual Leadership Meeting in Phoenix, AZ:

  • What happens when you ask a room of 100 media professionals to define OTT (over-the-top video)? No surprise, you get (almost) 100 different answers. At the 2019 IAB Annual Leadership Meeting townhall session titled “How Must Brands and Publishers Adapt to Accommodate the OTT Viewing Experience?” we heard an audience of publishers, tech enablers, as well as media buyers share their opinions in a spirited discussion that in many ways reflects the current state of understating and a real need for common terms and definitions.  Some said, “OTT is all about the content”. Others said “it’s all about the device”. But then, we asked “Is YouTube still OTT when it’s viewed on a big screen?” Most said yes. And perhaps the most important question that arose “Should the viewing audience be valued the same if the content is watched on a TV versus their mobile device or tablet? If not, then how should they be valued?  Should marketers simply ‘follow the audience’ whenever and wherever they choose to consume OTT content? Or should they stick to Connected TVs to take advantage of the large screen, sight/sound/motion, lean-back environment and that is typically a co-viewing experience?  Stay tuned as IAB works over the coming weeks to sharpen and clarify what buyers and sellers, and the industry overall, means when we say “OTT”.
  • The Advanced TV landscape represents a new world of opportunities for direct brands to take their marketing to the next level. TV still accounts for the largest viewing time among all video channels, but it is still bogged down by its legacy infrastructure. While the consumer seamlessly transitions from screen to screen, advertisers cannot. This is holding back direct brands from investing in TV as they are used to the data-driven, platform-based opportunities that return them immediate feedback and give the opportunity for optimization in real-time. Ad-hoc solutions that are popping up around the industry are not good enough—the industry needs to work together to figure how to make it easier for brands to advertise seamlessly across all screens. When this happens, the flood gates will open for brands of all sizes to leverage the power of television.
  • There is no perfect customer journey (but direct brands have a better handle on it than anyone else). If you’re an (in)direct brand driving traffic to various environments that you don’t control yourself, your ability to know your customer journey is fairly limited to basic metrics (impressions, CTR, total sales). Direct-to-consumer (DTC) brands on the other hand—data-driven companies that they are—know their creative effectiveness, their media effectiveness and in most cases, they capture that data in their own CRM (Customer Relationship Management) or DMP (Data Management Platform).  As long as the brand owns their own product pages and shopping carts they can control their first-party data (and their own destiny). The challenge for DTCs (who cut their teeth in social video and search) will be finding additional channels with greater scale and audience reach (while keeping a handle on customer acquisition costs and lifetime value).  OTT with its ability to enable more precise targeting, dynamic ad insertion, and greater tracking, and attribution results—holds great promise. But will it meet DTC expectations for understanding their consumer with the same level of granularity, as social video, and in real time? Time will tell!
  • Tentpole attention for every ad execution – it’s all about context and consumer connection. While audience is an important component of campaign planning, brands should still recognize and harness the power of context in video. People love the ads in the Super Bowl. If every ad was placed with the same level of thought and contextual relevance taking into account program storylines, characters, and themes, people would love ads across the board.
  • Marketers need to be as fluid as the viewer. Today, consumers can connect seamlessly to content – when they want, where they want, and how they want. The roadblock is that advertising hasn’t matched that experience. The marketer’s story isn’t yet seamless across platform and frequency remains an issue. So, marketers, DTC, and incumbent alike, are placing a greater importance on creative and first-party data than ever before.

Read more about “How to Build a 21st Century Brand” in the second edition of this IAB direct brand economy report and download your playbook to navigate this shift and learn how to thrive in this new direct brand economy.

Discover the “2019 IAB 250: Direct Brands to Watch,” a first-of-its-kind analysis pinpointing the most important direct brands to watch in the U.S. economy. These need-to-know direct-to-consumer brands are disrupting their categories and shaping the future of business.

To examine the new direct brand economy trends, challenges, and opportunities, the IAB Video Center of Excellence published a whitepaper titled “Pivoting to Growth: Selling Advertising and Marketing in the Direct Brand Economy” along with a blog post. It provides ideas and suggestions for media sellers to better serve the direct brand marketers and help grow their business. Read on to learn more.


Eric John
Senior Director, Digital Video Center of Excellence
at IAB

Nina Munoz
Director, Digital Video Center of Excellence
at IAB

Brian Schwartz
Director, Video Center of Excellence
at IAB