ARF Rocking the Research World With Measurement Mandate

This year’s ARF Measurement conference, a top research-oriented conference, focused two of its 2 ½ days on the challenges in cross platform measurement. Cross platform continues to be a major initiative of an industry that has historically focused predominantly on television. But the days of linear TV dominating the discussion and the historical buying and selling of spots and dots is just about over.

Manish Bhatia, CRO of comScore summed it up by saying "video has escaped television." Once consuming "more of a household’s time than a workday", according to Bhatia, the recent declines in overall linear television consumption can be a bit disconcerting … that is until you realize that television viewing is as robust as ever. “We are not losing viewers”, explains Joan Fitzgerald, (Senior Vice President, Television and Cross Media Service, comScore), “They are consuming on different platforms. In fact, multiplatform consumers spend more time with the content on television.”

My take is that while linear TV usage is declining, television usage as a whole – with all of the on demand and OTT options available - will be as important as ever. But we will miss opportunities to fully monetize its importance if we cannot agree on a standard cross platform measurement. The ARF Measurement Mandate conference presented many different and sometimes overlapping solutions in cross platform measurement. Each touts its own secret sauce data sets and algorithms. The result is a confusing noise of competing sales positions that can, unless we can find ways of merging them, potentially impede a standardize-able cross platform measurement solution. The stakes are high. According to Gayle Fuguitt, CEO of the ARF, “$100 billion will be poured into analytics measurement in next year.”

Here are some highlights:

The Importance of Disconnecting
In a time of increasing connection across a range of devices, keynote speaker, Ariana Huffington, gave a thought provoking talk about the need to disconnect from these devices. "We take better care of our devices than we do of ourselves," she explained. "Burnout is the disease of civilization. While we venerate technology we become hyper connected to our devices and become less connected to ourselves. Being tired has become a new normal. We need to be able to disrupt ourselves before we are disrupted." In her new book, Thrive, Huffington encourages us to move from being necessary to becoming indispensable. And the way we facilitate that is with a scheduled time each night to disconnect and take a predictable time off. "No one can be 24/7 individually. We are not machines," she says. Huffington is one of several CEOs who believe that by purposefully disconnecting we can refresh and become much more insightful and creative.

But While We Disconnect, Data Never Sleeps
Ariana Huffington’s keynote provided context for a conference attuned to the frenetic collection of data that comes from more and more sources. The collection of data occurs 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Where do you start? According to Jeff Chaban, Global SVP, Business Integration and Analytics, Starcom MediaVest Group, it is by "following the consumer based on viewing habits ... and it will differ by target audience. (We need to) migrate away from a world where we look at consumers as demos and think about the data mix as well as media mix.”

Mike Clarke, Team Lead, Brand Insights and Measurement at Google, is not restricted to the current TV currency. He spoke of Google’s new Brand Lift platform which uses traditional survey techniques with YouTube. Carlos Jose Fonseca, VP of Knowledge and Insights for Coke suggested that we “optimize for business results and not proxy measurement like clicks.”

Measuring Mobile is Vital... But Measured By Whom?
As video content is consumed on different platforms, our need to agree on accredited measurement standards has never been more important. Currently there is no company that has accredited mobile view-ability data, according to Serge Matta CEO of comScore. He explained, "We all know the problem with view-ability. There is a lot at stake. We want to make view-ability the footer not the headline. It is hard to do because digital is so complicated." His solution is to "set upfront expectations, set standards and use quality measurement."

How Do We Get to One Cross Platform Metric?
Ask a number of media executives what is the one platform-connecting metric to use and you will receive a range of answers. For Joan Fitzgerald, comScore is “working to get one metric across platforms.” The challenges though are formidable. “We use a six minute qualifier for television but not for the Internet,” she explains, “Cross media must provide a single metric, unified demography, holistic accounting of all video viewing behavior, scalable measurement of platform and audience and a metric that is reliable to fit the future of advertising.” Leslie Wood, CRO Nielsen Catalina Solutions, believes that “buyer targets will never be as valuable as demos. Demos are predictable. You know what age you will be next year but will you know if you will be drinking orange soda? We won't negotiate on buyer targets but we will plan on them.” Artie Bulgrin, SVP Global Research and Analytics, ESPN, explained that, “the component of time is so essential to this measurement and it is hard to do. Differences in editing rules come up with different results. This is important because time creates impressions.”

It is my hope that at the 2016 Measurement Mandate, the issues of cross platform measurement will largely be solved, but I am not holding my breath in anticipation. Some are more optimistic. Andrea Zapata, VP Global Research and Analytics, Vevo said, “Five years ago we were only counting two things - TV and the computer. We are now stitching together metrics. If we can agree on better instead of perfect we will get better.” Fuguitt hopes for “coopertition,” which is a blend of competition and cooperation. I leave it to the ARF to get us there.

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TV is Not Dead But It Is Evolving. A Look at On Demand

In this increasingly complex media world, on demand is emerging as the connector of viewing experiences that appear to be keeping television relevant and robust. That is according to the recent B&C Multichannel Summit which looked at the state of the television industry through the lens of on demand. Panels of content providers, data / measurement companies, advertisers and programmers offered their perspectives on how to best adapt to changing consumer behaviors.

Fighting market change is futile; The consumer is in charge and it is up to the industry to evolve. As Louis Hillelson, VP/Group Publisher Broadcasting and Cable/ Multichannel News noted, "Accessing on demand, anywhere, on any device is what the consumer demands."

TV is Not Dying ... But C3 Is
Rentrak CEO Bill Livek showed data that demonstrated that TV viewing was not declining. According to Livek, there are currently 57 million homes that are on demand enabled. The average household now spends 9.3 hours watching television with the time spent viewing primetime programming on demand doubling in the past five years. And that is because 100% of broadcast content is now available on demand. So in sum, "TV viewership is largely unchanged" he said, "Everyone is talking about the death of TV and the birth of digital but that is not so." 

But what is happening, according to Livek, is the erosion of Live TV viewing. He continued, "Fewer are watching live TV. They are using DVR and on demand platform and are segmented by time." In fact, "The majority of prime VOD viewing happens after 3 days of air."

This impacts the TV selling model which sells off C3 ratings. Further, when you view the Rentrak data through the prism of playback, it shows that certain programs are generally viewed at different playback intervals. Advertisers might benefit from placing ads in programs according to playback behavior which is something that Livek calls, "Time as a demographic."

The Business Model is Changing
For major content creators such as Ron Sanders, President Warner Brothers, Worldwide Home Entertainment Distribution, a “digital sell through opportunity” is emerging as the fastest growing home entertainment segment. What it offers is an early window to feature films in the home. Sanders said that “It is a way to keep consumers inside your cable system and keep them from ordering Netflix and Amazon.” He explained, “Once you buy it, you can download it or stream it to any device. And you can experience enhancements with a dynamically updated content structure. Now through digital we can add additional content over time such as interviews or extra directors content for example. It is a new digital service that expands the relationship with content that we've never had before. You can even copy and send your friends your favorite scenes.”

For Laura Fortner, EVP Marketing and Business Development, Whistle Sports, combining proven stars with emerging YouTube celebrities can not only be enjoyable for audiences, it can also produce unexpected fans. She explained, “We are learning how to combine the power of YouTube stars with other represented athletes. We tried an unexpected combination of talent in bowling trick shots with an amateur from Australia sharing his expertise with a professional bowler. The audience loved it and we had 21 million views. Millennials loved it even though bowling is an older sport.”

Embrace Technology or Die
Whether it is IP STBs or an initiative to expand TV everywhere, many companies are adapting to the changing technology and using it to improve the customer experience and satisfaction. Embracing technology is proving to be a very profitable way to sustain and enhance your business. The failure to embrace technology may prove to be your downfall.

Kevin Conroy, Chief Strategy & Data Officer and President, Enterprise Development at Univision, summed it up, “Choice always wins. The industry has not always offered the greatest choice or flexibility. It is all about choice and convenience. Brands that get it, that accept the new features of new technology and embrace the attributes of that new technology are in a position to win. It is never too late to get ahead of the curve. If you have audience and a value proposition and a willingness to innovate and push and are not be afraid to fail, take advantage of and continue to fuel the same level of innovation that made you great to begin with.”


Data, Data Everywhere in the Upfront. An Overview - Part 5

This is the fifth and final part of a series examining many of the new data initiatives of major data companies. Parts 1 through 4 outlined the many data initiatives, their scalability, whether their services were gaining traction in the industry and the issue of a standard metric to link systems and platforms. Now in Part 5, we tackle the role of Research in an era of Data. Is its role changing? 

Is there a future of Research as we know it? The question addressed here in Part Five was precipitated by some major changes over the past year including the transitioning of one research department into a data specialist department, layoffs at some other research departments and the building of new, business intelligence departments working in tandem with traditional research departments but reporting to different managements. 

According to ARF CEO Gayle Fuguitt, “There's never been a better or harder time to be in research, insights and analytics, and there's never been a more important time. Data is just facts, without inherent insight.  The role of the new analytics leader is to develop growth ideas and quantity opportunities that bring consumers' needs and values to life and make an emotional connection.”

My Take: My concern about the future of Research is not some random paranoia. There is scuttle talk that even Sales, that sacrosanct area of perpetual expansion, might retrench with the advent of programmatic TV. With change there is transition and even upheaval. So why should Research, even in this age of data worship, not be negatively impacted as well? One would think that the focus on data would catapult Research’s role in C-Suite decision-making but I am of the opinion that the results so far are mixed. In fact, executive titles in Research are now tending to leave off the term “Research” while adding “Analytics”, “Insights” and “Strategy”.  When did “Research” become a title to be avoided?

Question 5: What is the status of the Research department in your company? Has the data imperative changed the perceptions of your departments? If so, how?

Beth Rockwood (Senior Vice President, Market Resources, Discovery Communications): The research group’s responsibilities are growing; we are in the fortunate position of being able to demonstrate the value of our inventory in new ways.  Collaboration with sales teams, agencies and clients, has always been important, but now is much more central to our role as researchers. 
David Poltrack (Chief Research Officer, CBS Corporation and President of CBS VISION): It hasn’t changed the perception of our department because we have been looking beyond the demos for many years. We have been working with our sales team on usage based data and metrics that are more definitive than age and sex to evaluate our media offerings vs the competition. The fact is that we have formalized the program and significantly increased our investment because more advertisers are beginning to embrace and talk about these new data sources and the quality and quantity of the data is much greater and more comprehensive today. More and better data and growing advertiser interest have moved research into a more operational part of the business.

Tom Ziangas (SVP Research and Insights, AMC Networks): The AMCN Research team under my leadership has managed a very simple mission statement which is, “WE MAKE EVERYONE SMARTER”.  Our data initiatives are a function the lack of movement by industry research partners. We need a holistic view into the world of media and how it is being consumed across platform & device, our data initiatives are exposing key stakeholders in Senior management, Ad-Sales, Programming, Marketing and Affiliate on how we can better target, segment, use 3rd party data and understand the behaviors’ of our consumers.

Geri Wang (President ABC Sales, ABC): Research continues to be a critical component of our ABC and larger TWDC organization, and, as the emergence of new types of data and use cases evolve, we are continuing to invest in new capabilities and people across our organization.  We’ve hired a number of data scientists to work specifically on data modeling and targeting initiatives, and have in the past year created a new group within the NY Sales organization responsible for all data-driven and programmatic sales strategy and implementation.  We expect those investments in people and capabilities to continue.

Katie Larkin (EVP Advertising Sales Research and Strategy, NBCU): All of advertising sales research came together under one roof last year. We are focused on our clients’ needs and bringing comprehensive data-driven capabilities to the marketplace. We added a dedicated analytics team and we are pushing forward to find new metrics in order to give clients better insights. Our move to Cogent Reports for CNBC’s Business Day is an example of needing to go beyond Nielsen because their measurement of out of home viewers and highly affluent audience is inadequate. Our research and insights continue to evolve as we drive and lead in this space of data and analytics.

Paul Haddad (SVP and General Manager Advanced Data Analytics, Cablevision Media Sales): With the availability of census level set-top box data the concept of research and reporting evolves to accurate and accountable measurement that leads to advanced insights and analytics. We see data as glue across all platforms. Without it, there would be no realizing the full value in new advanced advertising techniques. Data is plugged into every platform and every step of our work flow, and comprehensive census-level data is crucial for more accurate measurement in general.

Kern Schireson (EVP, Data Strategy and Consumer Intelligence, Viacom): Research has long been an essential aspect of our business, but we no longer separate data from research. Data and research work in unison at Viacom, and both continue to broaden and evolve at our company ever-rapidly to stay ahead of the pace at which our consumers’ consumption behaviors change as they engage with our brands and stories across an expanding array of platforms and experiences.

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Making a Difference in Our Industry. Q&A with Kelly Wenzel

Kelly Wenzel is the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) for Centro, which is a firm that is on a mission to reinvent the media industry through programmatic solutions. Wenzel is also on a mission. In addition to helping advance Centro’s programmatic offerings, she is also deeply committed to mentoring and promoting women in the media technology field and in advancing work / life balance for working mothers. In short, she is making a difference both in how our industry works and in how we work in our industry.   Her efforts have contributed to Centro’s reputation as the top place to work in advertising and media (according to both Fortune and Advertising Age).

In this inspiring interview, Wenzel talks about her career, the advance of programmatic, how she achieves life and work balance and how, as an industry, we can help the advancement and achievement of young talented women. She also offers some ideas as to how the media landscape will trend over the next few years.
There are four videos in this interview:

Video                                                  Length in minutes
Background                                        5:45
Centro and Ad Tech                           5:34
Mentoring and Life Balance              7:39
Predictions                                         4:03

Charlene Weisler interviews Centro CMO Kelly Wenzel who talks about her background  in the 5:45 minute video:

CW: How has digital media changed since you first entered it in 2009?

KW: Just a few years ago it was an RFP (request for proposal) game. RFPs rolled in and as a marketer you didn’t need to focus on lead generation – everybody knew who you were. It was more about branding and exposure in the ad tech sector. Now it is much more about a holistic brand strategy, being very on-purpose with your brand and producing relevant, meaningful content that your customers want to consume. You still need to think about lead generation – how I am going to distribute and promote that content - but ad tech is now such a confusing and cluttered space that, as a marketer, we spend a lot more time on thought leadership, on education and on demystifying this space.

CW: I know that Programmatic is part of your business. How do you define Programmatic?

KW: There are people who think that Programmatic is synonymous with real time bidding (RTB) – buying inventory through an exchange based on an auction. That’s an older, slightly outdated definition. More folks are ascribing to the broader view which is Programmatic is about automation – anything that can be automated in the life cycle of a media campaign will be automated. By that definition, everything that Centro does is Programmatic because every campaign runs through the Centro Platform; nothing is done manually. Unfortunately, too many people still believe that Programmatic means that bidding on lower quality or remnant impressions from lower quality publishers or an exchange. That is also an outdated view but it takes time to change perceptions. 

Kelly Wenzel talks to Charlene Weisler about her work at Centro and about the Ad Tech industry in this 5:34 minute video:

CW: I know that you are deeply involved in mentorship. Can you talk about that?

KW: Yes. I was blessed to have a mentor very early in my career. My first job out of college I was a copywriter at an agency and one of the creative directors took me under her wing. It made a world of difference for a green 22 year old, fresh out of school, trying to navigate her first corporate environment. It made such a tremendous impact on me that I resolved to do the same for others down the line when I was in a position to do so. I have made that my mission. It is something that I make a priority.  I mentor women within Centro and I also mentor women via industry organizations like Women Advancing and Advertising Women of New York (AWNY).  

Mentorship can be pivotal to a young person's career. In this 7:39 minute video, Kelly Wenzel talks to Charlene Weisler about her efforts mentoring the next generation and her abilities in life balance.

CW: How can more women get involved? How can one get started?

KW: First, look around. There are probably women surrounding you in the workplace today that would benefit from a piece of wisdom, a boost, an affirmation. Start there. What Sheryl Sandberg wrote in “Lean In” was very true in that mentors find you. When I think of the women I mentor inside Centro, many of those relationships have been initiated by me. You see something as a leader, some spark or skill that you want to cultivate and nurture. Another fantastic benefit of “Lean In” is how proactive women now are about asking for mentorship or guidance.

CW: You are the mother of young children and also have a high powered job. How do you maintain work / life balance?

KW: Look, I struggle with this. I have two young children – twins who are five. I travel a lot right now, which takes a toll. Here is some of the best pieces advice I have gotten and implemented: Don’t think that it is ever a balance. It is more about work / life integration. Like a scale, it is going to go up and down and you have to be ready to be on that seesaw. There will be times when work is getting a little bit more of your attention and there will be times when your family is getting a little bit more of your attention. Just be conscious of riding that wave and managing it as best as you can. Don’t expect many times of perfect balance – I might get that for half an hour at a time!

The other thing that is helpful to me is purely mental. It is a mindset shift where I have a new relationship with my guilt. I was feeling guilt a lot about being away and the time I wasn’t spending with my children. Now, I try to just own my choices. If I am choosing to have a career, choosing to be a CMO at a thriving growing software company, well that is my choice. And with it comes compromise that I have to make on the home front. As soon as you own your choice, work is not a “have to” or a “must” or an “obligation” and that reframes everything. It’s a much more empowered way to move through the world.

In this final video, Kelly Wenzel shares some of her predictions about the media landscape with Charlene Weisler. This video is 4:03 minutes:

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