In Pursuit, the New John Walsh Program on ID, Aims to Close Cold Cases

America is a very dangerous place. And that is why I am happy to report that John Walsh, the justice advocate who turned his family’s personal tragedy into a national crime solving movement, is back on television. 

Last night we attended the premiere screening of his new program, In Pursuit, on Investigation Discovery which previewed on the network at 10p, January 17, 2019.

Walsh and his son Callahan team up to showcase unsolved crimes in the hopes that some of these cold cases can finally be solved. They appeared on a panel with Paula Zahn, whose own show on ID, On The Case, focuses on the investigations behind some of America’s most fascinating crimes. Callahan Walsh has taken up his father’s cause, serving as the Strategic Advancement and Partnerships Senior Specialist for the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
In the premiere episode, In Pursuit focused on two unsolved crimes of husbands killing their wives and then eluding the police. Each segment includes photos of the criminal with a toll free number to call and a website address. The program also features photos (age enhanced where needed) of two missing children in the hope that someone will recognize them and help reunite them with their families

John Walsh explained that he wants to highlight unsolved crimes in small towns whose police forces are small and often not equipped to handle many of the heinous crimes in their community. He explained that 70% of all police forces in America have fewer than 10 police. To help support local efforts, Walsh has set up a network of retired veteran police, marshals and detectives, called Team Adam after his son who was tragically kidnapped and murdered 27 years ago. Team Adam participants fly in and help local forces fight for justice by doing immediate actions such as grid searches and hot interviews.  Walsh is also committed to reforming the justice system to find more ways to protect child victims, such as enabling them to testify in the judges’ chambers instead of the courtroom. “We know what it is like to wait for justice,” Walsh stated.
In the case of his own son, Walsh explained that the local Hollywood, Florida police refused to act upon his abduction and the case languished until Walsh was able to obtain all of the police files of the case and hire his own private detective to investigate. The case was then solved in one month.  The importance of having experienced investigators on the case and a system that is actively committed to pursuing justice cannot be understated. I speak from experience. 

My mother-in-law was the victim of a homicide in Pasco County Florida in 1997. We were fortunate that two local detectives were actually retired NYC Brooklyn homicide police who solved our case in two weeks. But the then District Attorney of Florida would not prosecute, citing not enough evidence… until one of the local detectives brought the case to the FBI and the U.S. Federal court where it was successfully prosecuted. This hard lesson underscored to me how lucky our family was in having two veteran law enforcers working on our behalf and how they took a risk to go over the heads of state agencies to seek full justice on the national level. 

Callahan Walsh summed it up best when he said, “We want to make the world a smaller place for criminals.” Not even home is safe; John Walsh reported that 35 families turned in their own sons after hearing about criminal cases on America’s Most Wanted, his previous show. So far, the Walshs’ efforts have helped bring to justice hundreds of criminals globally with arrests made as far as India. “The tips from the public are vital,” Callahan continued, “so we want to lower the threshold for tips.” To that end, they are leveraging social media such as Facebook, in addition to their website I know that when a family member is a victim of a crime, there is never closure. “But,” as John Walsh pointed out, “Justice helps.”

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Advancing Advanced Advertising. An Interview with Tripp Boyle of Connekt

Image result for tripp boyleThe world of advanced advertising continues to innovate. Take the example of Connekt which makes use of A.I. to dynamically insert interactive advertising in content and synchronize with T-commerce and E-commerce. As linear TV moves onto the IP, this form of advertising is poised to become more pervasive. Tripp Boyle, SVP Sales Strategy and Business Development, is not only leveraging A.I. in advertising. His company is also offering the first-ever voice activated, national TV ad campaign which was recently showcased at CES. 

Charlene Weisler: What is your definition of advanced TV?

Tripp Boyle: Advanced TV is what defines today’s TV ecosystem.  The proliferation of connected smart TV devices (now active in 74% of US TV households) be it through HD streaming content, TV everywhere technology, the advent of t-commerce, addressable linear and VOD opportunities and more means that TV is more advanced than ever and will continue to evolve.

Weisler: What do you see as its greatest opportunities and challenges in advanced TV in 2019?

Boyle: TV data has remained largely untapped due to insufficient and unproven technology that has had difficulty scaling across providers.  Brands are still reliant on TV for reach and have built proven models that show it works, which why we’ll never see the switch flip overnight.  Connekt is building technology, integrated at the smart device level that’s allowing advertisers to leverage both front and back end data to deliver smarter experiences within linear TV. 

Advanced TVs biggest challenge remains device and platform fragmentation.  It’s not a simple task to unite an ecosystem whose technological backbone is housed within OEMs that have historically battled each other for market share.  Add to this MVPDs and MSOs who are also looking for new and enhanced revenue streams and it’s hard to get everyone to see eye to eye on a unified solution rather than build or buy their own and scale only among their user base.

Weisler: What are the most critical data points in advanced advertising?

Boyle: Factors vary campaign to campaign.  Right now in Advanced TV advertising, we’re seeing data like location, HH demographics, and context bubble to the surface in terms of activation prioritization.  Enabling dynamic local messaging on top of national ad spots, highlighting different products from the same brand depending on household profile or keying in on a specific offer tied to a precise moment on the television within ads or programming are some of the most common use cases.

Weisler: Describe your solutions for an ecommerce project.

Boyle: Our ecommerce solution is an outsourced, multi-channel, white label storefront that offers  clients a new channel of revenue without the traditional funds and manpower needed to set up an internal site.  Connekt handles the back-end technology, product development, merchandising, marketing, fulfillment of orders and customer service. For example, we recently announced the launch 

With our ongoing partnership with ABC, Connekt’s platform supports every aspect of the network’s by managing site hosting and web development. We also create official brand gear for its franchises, including apparel, drinkware, home goods and collectibles. Once a viewer purchases a product, Connekt then fulfills the order, ensuring that the item is processed and delivered, and all customer service inquiries are met. Connekt is introducing a future where viewers will be able to purchase items with their remote or voice through our owned and operated ShopTV smart TV application, which is currently available on Sony, LG and Hisense smart TVs. 

Weisler: Can you talk a little bit about your recent patent? 

Boyle: Our patented technology gives audiences the ability to interact with, research and purchase items viewed on TV and video, in real-time.  When an ad is displayed on screen, viewers can purchase directly through a wide array of devices, such as remote controls, phones and voice-activated assistants. 

Weisler: How real time is your realtime?

Boyle: On linear TV our technology reacts to what is on the screen within milliseconds to deliver the right message, at a precise moment.  On the data side, we’re returning viewership and engagement data at the network, program, state, DMA, daypart, and hour levels within 24 hours of delivery.

Weisler: Do you collect data? If so, how do you use it?

Boyle: The non-PII data that we gather is centered on viewership, attention, and engagement at the device level.  Our data helps identify who’s watching, what content, for how long, on what networks, and who’s engaging, at what time, to understand who is most receptive to a message.  We share that anonymized data back to our advertising partners to help as a planning tool, we also build audience segments around that data.

Weisler: In the span of your career what has most surprised you?

Boyle: It is the growth curve we’ve seen with mobile commerce.  It seems intuitive now, given how capable smartphones are and how easy it is for a new device to make us forget the previous version, but mobile e-commerce is projected (eMarketer) to make up half of all e-commerce next year, or roughly $319B. In 2009, it was at just north of $1B.  Take a second to reflect on what your response would have been 10 years ago if someone asked you if you purchase laundry detergent on your mobile phone.  Now we’re setting up automatic re-orders via our smartphones on all kinds of CPG goods and doing much of our holiday shopping via mobile as well.  

Weisler: What are your overall predictions for the state of the media industry 3-5 years from now.

Boyle: The roll out of 5G services and the host of benefits that will come with exponentially faster internet connection.  Overall, continued convergence is going to significantly re-shape the media landscape and drive how, and through whom, we access what content we watch/listen to.  Sports rights will continue to evolve and it will be interesting to see how that impacts traditional cable service subscriptions now that you have social networks, TV companies, and streaming services competing.  I think the networks are too big in the foreseeable future to lose much ground on sports but it will be interesting to see how those rights deals are structured.  Terrestrial radio, digital radio, and podcasted content are also at a bit of a crossroads and I’m sure we’ll see some convergence there with a few big players making moves to stay ahead.

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The Secret to Increasing Unduplicated Reach. Interview with Dataxu’s Mike Baker

Nine years ago, a group of data scientists from MIT Labs formed a partnership to more fully explore the use of data science in advertising and marketing. 

From this, dataxu was born. “I think what is interesting about our starting premise was the idea that the world of media, marketing and advertising would benefit from stronger data analytics,” explained Mike Baker, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of dataxu. 

In those early days, it was difficult to get upper management at media companies to think beyond the standard datasets because the business model greatly relied on syndicated data research to track the business. But today the use of data science, algorithms and multi-sourced datasets to track the media business has become, as he noted, “orthodox wisdom.”

Dataxu focuses on the value of advanced television, specifically connected TV, to enable advertisers to more fully and tactically reach their audiences across all platforms. His work with agencies has not only accelerated the formation of true cross platform buying and planning but also helps to herald a new way of thinking among digital-only buyers – that TV still has immense value and is vital to any media plan. 

Baker shared some of his candid thoughts on the subject.
Charlene Weisler: What type of company is leading the charge in advanced TV curiosity and adoption?

Mike Baker: The leaders in using technology are mid-market agencies, many of whom are seizing on connected TV in particular as an opportunity to grow a TV practice that they haven’t had previously. Notably, they are doing so through their own self-serve tool which is a do it yourself processing interface for data analysis. It’s powerful for a smaller agency that doesn’t have a large traditional planning and buying department for TV. Mid-market agencies have gotten on board early with self-serve tools that offer sophisticated data analysis and are currently investing aggressively.
The other leading group is direct-to-consumer companies, many of whom have maxed out on Facebook and Google Search. They are looking for new channels and new opportunities to bring their data-driven planning and buying to the richer palette of video and TV. What they find appealing are the digital characteristics of connected TVs, the ability to immediately understand who is exposed to an ad and connect that to sales and to quickly understand Return on Ad Spend. 

Weisler: What is the TV opportunity at large and what should every agency know, whether they are just getting started or currently immersed in Next Gen TV?

Baker: There is a very dramatic transition happening among viewers of TV as to how they’re choosing to watch TV which is increasingly on-demand, done typically through streaming. We talk about connected TVs which are the large TVs typically in the living room connected to a streaming device. So the first thing to note is that traditional linear TV audiences are declining. Which means that simply doing what you did last year will lead to a worse result for your client. 

We now see video as the fastest growing part of the media and digital marketplace. That growth is occurring through mobile devices for short form video and TVs for long form, high quality content. If you are an agency, more and more turns on your capabilities with data analytics for your point of differentiation and your ability to win new clients and retain valuable business. It’s a great opportunity for agencies to build a practice, get new customers and grow their businesses in an area that is up for grabs because data sits between connected TVs, traditional linear TV and digital teams. I find that larger agencies are having a political stand-off between these groups which gives the innovative agencies a leg up – the opportunity to integrate digital and linear to create more competitive solutions to their clients.

Weisler: For agencies just getting started, what's essential for them to know?

Baker: Most agencies aren’t aware that you can target specific audiences on TV. You can take cookie data or DMP data and translate that into streaming devices to import a digital audience over into dynamic ad insertion in long form TV content. But you need a tool to help you with identity management that is privacy compliant. Dataxu offers one, which has become one of the fastest growing parts of our business. It is now possible to translate traditional digital audiences that have been curated by DMPs into the new world of connected TV. 

Agencies just getting started also need to know that there are many premium programming brands available. The premium inventory on connected TVs - those familiar top tier programming names like NBC, Turner and Fox – is available for purchase programmatically. We at dataxu have created a special private marketplace directly with publishers to insure that the volume is there for advertisers who want to buy on a spot basis. This is incredibly easy to do compared to negotiating with a national network or even local scatter buys.

Weisler: For the most sophisticated agencies, what wins and challenges are they sharing?

Baker: What sophisticated agencies are doing is tackling the next key problem as viewership fragments between the set top box, streaming device and mobile phone. We look across the total viewership of TV audiences and understand, with great precision, how to maximize unduplicated reach of an ad message. TV has traditionally been the greatest vehicle for broad reach that makes consumers aware of new products and services. It’s still very powerful, but its power is winnowing as fewer people choose to watch traditional linear TV. So advanced agencies are using analytics to understand the unduplicated reach that can be brought to an overall TV plan by using connected TV. To do that you need to join linear and digital viewership data - something we do through Dataxu’s One View. The results are powerful. We are working with an agency that has a large automotive client. They were able to predict the growth in unduplicated reach of a new model launch ad by about +20% through a connected TV investment. That investment was shown only to households that hadn’t viewed the ad through a traditional TV connection. 

Weisler: Do you see key differences between agencies in TV implementation?

Baker: Definitely. Agencies that have integrated and trained their digital and traditional TV buying teams seem to be ahead of those who are struggling with siloed teams. In 2019 you’ll increasingly see the TV teams re-formed to bring the digital know-how and the traditional linear expertise together.

Weisler: There's been A LOT of Buzz around LiveRamp's Identity Link launch. Can you explain it and how it empowers digital and TV buyers across brands and agencies?  

Baker: Identity Link enables brands and agencies to target specific consumers in a privacy compliant manner with a high degree of confidence. Dataxu’s partnership with LiveRamp makes us the only demand side platform that can translate those identities and execute them in digital and TV without losing any of the audience size. We are seeing a lot of advertiser interest, especially among Retailers and Financial Services companies who have evolved extensive first party databases. Oftentimes these kind of data-driven firms want to use their CRM files to build media audiences whether that’s a one-to-one basis or as a seed for creating lookalike audiences. For these kind of advertisers, the ability to move from data into action with the LiveRamp/dataxu partnership is unique and powerful. We look forward to seeing this initiative continue to scale.

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