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PepsiCo’s Take on the Future of CTV Advertising

Looking ahead 12-18 months or more into the future of CTV, PepsiCo Head of Media Strategy & Investment Katie Haniffy sees shoppable advertising, investing more in live events on streaming platforms, and maintaining cultural relevance as key elements of new initiatives to leverage the emerging possibilities of CTV advertising and build fan bases, as she explains in this clip from her fireside chat with OMD U.S. Head of Video Investment & Activation Suzanne Irving at Streaming Media NYC.

When it comes to identifying and leveraging monetization opportunities in the CTV environment, Haniffy says, "We're all about providing some more value. We don't want to be disruptive. We want to provide value during that experience."

This can take a number of forms, she explains. "New ad formats is a big one. I think having a better understanding of the content slates earlier on, so we can take a bigger advantage of major IP" is also important--though it's easier said than done. "That seems to be really hard to do that right now. Our timelines and their timelines are not really in sync at all. So that's something that I think we're hoping to work on as we move forward."

Prioritizing Tentpole Events

One area PepsiCo is paying particular attention to in the streaming world is the growth of tentpole live events in general and sports in particular. "We know that live sports is moving into the streaming environment." She sees sports-adjacent events picking up as well. "We know [Netflix's] Roast of Tom Brady was very successful. How do we start to play in these live events that are on streaming platforms?"

Irving contends that the value of such events stems not just from viewership numbers but also their "cultural impact," and how they enhance "the connection with the fandom that you have." She likens it to the "linear television water cooler moments" and asks Haniffy how cultural impact plays out differently in the streaming era when everyone is more likely to be watching different shows.

"As brands we've always strived to be culturally relevant," Haniffy says. "That gives us our edge over our competition." But building a brand strategy around identifying and seizing standout cultural moments has its pitfalls, she contends. "When I first started at Pepsi, we would think about these big tentpole moments, and we were big sponsors of the Grammys and the Oscars, and other singular events. We called it 'The Big Boom.' And then we couldn't figure out what we did to get to the next tentpole event. So it's kind of like a boom-splat event."

Finding Fans in a Fragmented Premium Content Market

But today's fragmented premium content market has its own challenges and requires a more nuanced approach to capturing fandoms and figuring out where the audience will be. "Now I think there's all these different fandoms across all these different partners and platforms, and there's pockets. So it makes it even harder to drive that fandom, which could be Squid Games, or it could be The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. They're all over different platforms. So it's really about trying to find all those fans and scaling them across the board. And people are fans of the content," she continues. "They don't care exactly what platform it's on. So if a piece of content moves from one streaming platform to another, they're going to follow it. It's just like I'm an Islander fan and if they go to a different channel, I'm going to go watch them there. So I think building that connection with the content and the fan is just more important than ever."

But adapting to new market realities doesn't mean throwing out the old playbook entirely, she says. "Are we still going to be in some of the big cultural events on broadcast? Most likely, yeah."

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