RESEARCH REPORT

In brief

In brief

  • COVID-19 and the resulting economic crisis has created extremely challenging advertising dynamics for broadcasters, media companies and telcos.
  • In the current crisis, however, there’s opportunity for companies that seize the moment to transform their ad sales organization.
  • A transformation of ad sales and operations can be executed successfully with the right roadmap and plan, as well as an iterative, agile approach.
  • In this paper, we explore the investments in transformational change that are essential across six elements of the media-tech company.


The global advertising market has certainly experienced plenty of disruptions over the years that have made their marks—some of them lasting—on advertising spend and placement.

The most recent disruption—COVID-19 and the resulting economic crisis—has created extremely turbulent and challenging advertising dynamics for global broadcasters, media firms, and telcos that’s hammering ad spending in the near term while accelerating some of the trends that have been unfolding across the industry for years (principally, the ongoing shift to digital).

But in the current crisis there’s opportunity for companies that seize the moment to transform their ad sales organization. By infusing automated, AI-driven processes and workflows, new skills and incentive systems, easy-to-interpret enterprise data, and holistic visibility of inventory and forecasts, media companies can achieve true “media-tech” status and be better positioned to grow as ad spending recovers.

A new post-pandemic ad world order

As global markets recover from COVID-19, the mix of returning ad dollars will be drawn to an increasingly performance-driven ad ecosystem. This will create a significant and growing threat from digital natives for traditional media advertising across global markets. At the same time, consumer attention and ad spend on over-the-top (OTT), connected TV (CTV), and mobile is expected to grow. At some point in the near future, consumers’ video consumption will become fully multiplatform, making the distinction between TV and digital far less important in the advertising world than audience segments.

US ad spend per user per day, 2015-2002

The new transformation imperative

Ad executives face two interrelated challenges. First and foremost, with ad spending hit hard by the pandemic, they have to do whatever they can to protect their revenue in the near term. At the same time, however, they have to keep their eyes on the future, pivoting to strategic change and investment in a sweeping operating model transformation to make them competitive in a post-pandemic world.

So how do media organizations do what may seem like the impossible—protect revenue in the immediate term and set a course to revenue growth and differentiation over the longer term, while delivering improved profitability for the ads business?

Mobilizing for change to pivot to the future

In parallel with protecting revenue with agile, iterative tactics, related capabilities to build a modern ad sales operation that can compete effectively.

This move is part of the broader transformation media sales organizations must prepare to pivot to a strategic “2.0” transformation of the core ad sales operating model and companies must enact to become a media-tech company that uses “digital factories” to rapidly create and scale ad products, solutions, and experiences.

Advertising transformation framework

A media-tech company takes advantage of content and technology to develop and offer innovative products and business models, at scale and at speed, to respond properly to ever-changing consumer and market demands. This pivot will help future-proof the ad sales business and differentiate it from fast-moving competition, and requires investing in transformational change across six elements that are essential to a media-tech company’s ad sales organization.

Getting started today

A transformation of ad sales and operations can be executed quickly and successfully with the right roadmap and plan, as well as an iterative, agile approach that frees up cash via process improvement, automation, and optimization to invest in growth. To be sure, it’s a tough time for traditional media companies today. But there’s opportunity in the challenges they face. Media companies need to seize that opportunity now. It’s time to take stock of your plans, evaluate how achievable they are, what they’ll deliver—and, most important, how you change to make them reality.

About the Authors

Jonathan Weitz

Managing Director – Accenture Strategy, North America


Peri Shamsai

Managing Director – Communications and Media, North America


Keith McInerney

Managing Director – Strategy & Consulting, North America


Carlo Iacoboni

Managing Director – Communications and Media, Europe

MORE ON THIS TOPIC

Cloud imperative in media
Mapping the future media & platforms landscape
COVID-19: Building on a trusted platform

Subscription Center
Stay in the Know with Our Newsletter Stay in the Know with Our Newsletter