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The Current

News for the modern marketer

Edition 28

How media buyers are pioneering the application of AI in advertising 

Thursday, July 22

As a media buyer for Wpromote, a digital marketing agency focused on emerging brands and enterprise clients, Skyler McGill has a bird’s eye view of the changing landscape of digital media. An associate director on the programmatic team, McGill specializes in emerging media formats, helping clients looking to navigate new channels — outside of social, paid and search environments and traditional formats like linear TV.   

“We’re able to present opportunities in connected TV, reaching people in the digital space where there’s been a huge convergence,” McGill tells The Current. “We’re tapping into a whole new environment and market for our clients looking to reach new customers.” 

Just as interesting, however, is the role that McGill and many other pioneering programmatic media buyers are playing in advancing the application of AI in advertising. While many companies and industries are struggling to capitalize on the value of AI, digital advertising appears to be one industry that has embraced it. As a growing percentage of the global advertising market digitizes, and as more of that digital inventory is traded programmatically, the role of AI as a valuable assistant to the strategic trader is becoming clearer.  

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Just Briefly —

  • The words “data activation” get thrown around a lot in advertising, but what exactly do they mean? We explain — in plain English — in our latest edition of What the Tech?
  • Consumers say they prefer ad-supported streaming over paid.

More people watched the Euro 2020 championship than the NBA Finals. Advertisers are taking notice.

The UEFA Euro 2020 soccer championship scored big among American audiences, as the final between Italy and England saw more viewers on average than the first three games of the NBA Finals between the Milwaukee Bucks and Phoenix Suns.   

The soccer match drew an average of 9.4 million viewers across ESPN, TUDN and Univision, up 59 percent when compared to ESPN’s U.S. broadcast of the Euro 2016 championship between Portugal and France. It was also the largest audience for any U.S. soccer telecast since the 2019 Women’s World Cup final. ABC, meanwhile, saw an average of 8.9 million people tune in for the first three games of the NBA Finals. This trend in viewership is even more remarkable given the Euro 2020 final aired on cable, whereas the NBA finals appeared on a major broadcast network with broader reach. 

Soccer’s growing popularity among U.S. sports fans is making advertisers take notice of “the beautiful game,” with an increasing number turning to connected TV to reach fans of the sport. For American soccer fans who can’t get enough, the good news is that the 2021–22 English Premier League season kicks off on August 14 through NBC’s Peacock.

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Around the dial

  • Double up: Mid-term election ad spending is expected to jump to $9 billion, boosted by the rise of connected TV.  
  • Olympic uncertainty: The Wall Street Journal reports that the Olympics are turning into a $20 billion bust for Japan.
  • Here to stay: Digiday asks if the latest rise in investment in ad tech is a bubble or a boom.  
  • Another plus: CNN joins the streaming marketplace, announcing CNN+ news service to launch early next year. 
  • Cha-ching: Discovery completed its most successful upfront ever.