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Streamers eye social media playbook

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Jan 30, 2024
GroupM's Jessica Brown, NBCUniversal's Peter E. Blacker Unilever's Aaron Sobol and Axios' Kerry Flynn sitting on chairs on a stage with IAB ALM '24 in the background

(L to R) GroupM's Jessica Brown, NBCUniversal's Peter Blacker, Unilever's Aaron Sobol and Kerry Flynn at IAB's Annual Leadership Meeting on Jan. 29, 2024. Photo: Caitlin Galo

Streaming services want to be more personalized like social media, industry executives told Axios at IAB's Annual Leadership Meeting on Monday.

Why it matters: The goal is to attract more subscribers and advertisers, notably small and medium-sized businesses, as media companies look to make streaming profitable.

What they're saying: "How do we ... utilize the data so that the experience that you have is almost as personal as your social feed?" said Peter Blacker, an NBCUniversal executive vice president, during the panel that Kerry moderated. "So people don't feel like, 'Oh this is boring, same old, same old.'"

  • "As a marketing community, we get to have fun with all the digital capabilities that exist and do something better [than linear] and deliver more personalized experiences," said Aaron Sobol, Unilever's U.S. head of media investment.
  • 'There's not one message," said Jessica Brown, managing director, digital investment of GroupM, referring to streaming services targeting specific ads to individuals. "It's using data to be smarter and more relevant."

The big picture: Media companies are focused on moving from growing subscriber numbers for their steaming services to making them financially viable, with advertising a key part of that plan.

  • "While [advertisers are] spending most of their dollars still on linear, they're actually spending most of their time thinking about streaming," iSpot CEO Sean Muller said on a separate panel about media measurement.
  • Amazon Prime Video released commercials across its platform Monday, charging users an extra $2.99 for an ad-free version. It joins Netflix, Warner Bros. Discovery's Max, NBCUniversal's Peacock and others in offering cheaper ad-supported tiers.
  • Advertising "helps with the consumer proposition because you can manage the price point [for] consumers," said Paramount CEO Bob Bakish in a different conversation Monday. "It gets you down this road to profitability."

Zoom in: Bakish said Paramount is looking to expand its pool of advertisers.

  • While there may be thousands of advertisers on television, Bakish said there are millions on digital platforms like Spotify and Instagram — the former homes of two recent sales hires.
  • "There's a lot of room between 2,000 and 2 million," Bakish said.
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