As more viewing takes place on ad-free platforms and marketers increase their spending on digital video, TV networks are being forced to rethink what has traditionally been an interruptive commercial experience.

They are making a concerted effort to digitize TV by infusing data into the planning, buying and creative processes, automating what they can and moving toward the smaller ad loads of streaming video.

Aside from reducing your chances for wine refills during commercial breaks, it sounds like a welcome model for consumers. And marketers in general are certainly eager to run more effective TV commercials. But as TV heads into its annual upfront negotiations with ad buyers this summer, the industry isn’t rushing to totally replicate digital.

“TV as a traditional medium is still important,” said Rich Lehrfeld, senior VP-global brand marketing and communications,¬†American Express. “When we run a heavy TV schedule, we see a lift in sales and product awareness. We need to run two weeks of digital to get the reach of one day of broadcast.”

There’s a fear that TV will become “so fragmented and ratings will drop so much that it will be hard to generate reach and frequency,” Mr. Lehrfeld admitted. New ad opportunities and approaches could mitigate that.

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