From Digital to Broadcast Radio. iHeart Media’s Creative Data Initiatives Revealed at the Secret Society

“Data is all about interpretation,” according to Mitch Oscar USIM’s Director, Advanced Television. His efforts to progress the discussion and implementation of data in our industry have been a cornerstone of his Secret Society mission. The June 2016 meeting, held at comScore / Rentrak offices, highlighted those data initiatives that pushed the uses of digital data sets and their insights into traditional media platforms. 

It was at that meeting that Brian Kaminsky, President Programmatic and Data Operations, iHeartMedia, revealed how they took digital data, mined it for insights and applied those insights to their broadcast radio viewers to expand knowledge of that group and use it for branding, marketing and sales purposes.

iHeart Media - Digital Data to Broadcast Radio
Kaminsky explained how his company added a digital DMP and ad serving system and used the insights gathered on digital uses to infer the behaviors of their broadcast radio viewers. With over a quarter of a billion monthly listeners in the U.S. and over 85 million social followers, iHeartMedia has the largest reach of any radio or television outlet in America. It serves over 150 markets through 858 owned radio stations,” he explained. “By leveraging iHeartRadio user database associated with those digital extensions in combination with data from social platform APIs and other third party vendors, our data science team is able to express iHeartRadio terrestrial broadcast station’s audiences with the same type of data and insights normally associated with digital marketing,” he added.   

Kaminsky’s goal was to get people to use broadcast differently by using deeper level of consumer insights from digital. “We needed a DMP to make output actionable and make the consumer come to life,” he said. The result was the creation of data segmentations, the planning against those segments and then used the data to make radio optimizable on a market by market basis. “We also took data, matched it to social behavior, brought in third party data, normalized it and brought it into the iHeartRadio map. We intend to create a series of private marketplaces for iHeartRadio,” he concluded.

Radha Subramanyam, President of Insights, Research and Data Analytics for iHeartMedia, sees great opportunity with this initiative. She said, "It is incredibly exciting when you can deliver the deep insights and precision of digital media with the scale of broadcast media. Advertisers can optimize campaigns against their targets yet reach enough people to truly have an impact. Targeting at scale is the next big leap forward in the application of data."

For Oscar, the opportunity to showcase a range of data initiatives worked not only for the assembled attendees but also for the industry at large. The four presenters at this Secret Society meeting ranged from iHeartRadio (applying the precision, data and insights of digital and social to broadcast) to Sinclair Broadcasting (using programmatic techniques for the delivery of the primary audience guarantee as well as the equally important secondary target)  to 4Cinsights (providing Coca-Cola with a better understanding of how it could reach its unique target) to Roku (demonstrating the value of timely registration information of its OTT/ cord cutting/ cord-nevers growing subscription population). Future meetings will continue to explore the creative use of data for extraordinary targeting capabilities.

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The Expansion of Measurement from Creative to Children at The ARF Conference

We talk a lot about data in media measurement these days but often in the context of improving the current measurement of usage. The recent ARF Measurement Conference, held last week, has begun to expand the range of measureable actions and audiences through the use of not only data, but also through advancements like neuroscience.

Taking on the Issues
There are many challenges in the market. “Ad blocking and fraud are big issues,” explained Fuguitt. And there are also questions such as the sequencing of ad messages cross platform. What is the optimal order? What is the optimal customization of ad formats across platforms? “Context is vital as timing a message to the consumer at the right time in the right place is everything,” she stated. How do we take big data and translate into emotional advertising? “We are offering audience measurement survival kits, because creating creative is more important than counting. We are measuring consumers’ feet. How do we make their hearts beat faster? Brands are built in the brain. We have fine-tuned quantification to neuroscience. We need to build emotional connections with consumer with unbiased research that finds and identifies consumer needs. We can’t take years to answer these questions,” she concluded.

CIMM’s Initiative to Measure Kids and Teens Cross Platform
CIMM, The Coalition for Innovative Media Measurement, has embarked on an initiative to solve the challenge of measuring kids and teens cross platform. Hampered by legislative, data, compliance and sample challenges, “it is even more challenging to measure for kids and teens than adults and the young are the future,” explained Marc Normand, VP Research, Disney Media Sales & Marketing. Why would CIMM embark on a kids and teens measurement initiative? Normand explained, “Imagine that when you start a family and you are at the hospital when the baby is born, you actually see room full of 18 year olds. That's what was happening in TV measurement. We are missing all of the growth.” Jane Clarke, CEO and Managing Director CIMM put it all in context and said, “We want to measure everything's that is happening in the household and attribute it properly. We want to capture usage on all devices in the house and measure as passively as possible.”

The first steps in the study involve 500 households. Starting small was important. “The data analysis challenge is something that you cannot imagine,” she continued, “Streams coming in via the router is a firehose of data. Making sense of it and attaching and linking from the source and time code is unbelievably complex challenge. It makes sense to start small.” As far as next steps are concerned, Rolfe Swinton, Chief RealityMiner at Reality Mine, stated, “The first phase is done. Next we will scale up and remove the check in process. We want to be clear about who is exactly watching but make it passive.”

Measuring Creative Using Neuroscience
The ARF has embarked on an initiative to measure the efficacy of creative using neuroscience. Dr. Manuel Garcia-Garcia presented the latest “neuroscience methods that can identify those creative elements that help to make advertising more effective.” What he found was that a unified creative approach that is cross platform and customized to each platform are “neural pathways to great creative. You can amplify consumer engagement if you customize your creative for the platform and don't simply repurpose it,” he explained.

His work also found that two platforms are better than one and that optimal sequencing – whether a TV message should be first or not – depends on the focus of the campaign. “We generally recommend starting with TV because if you start first with digital and then go to TV, there is less impact. But starting first with mobile is better if you are customizing your campaign for mobile. Mobile before TV equals higher memory. If TV is preceded by different platform the neuroscience suggests that there is higher brand consideration.”

Elements within the creative can impact viewer response. Garcia-Garcia explained, “A TV ad that explains benefits of the product or service results in higher purchase intent. And adding digital to TV raised brand consideration up three times. Your creative strategy is key to optimizing impact. In short, the platform does not determine strategy. The strategy should determine platform.”

As with past ARF Measurement Conferences, one walks away with new insights. This year it seemed that measurement has expanded its boundaries with new datasets and research techniques. Gayle Fuguitt, President and CEO of the ARF summed it up, “We need to be fearlessly facing forward. Media is being redefined and consumers want media on their own terms. We need to serve it up to them as they want it.” The time is now to take bold steps.

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Welcome to the DataFront. Interview with Viacom’s Kern Schireson

Kern Schireson, EVP, Data Strategy and Consumer Intelligence, Viacom, is responsible for Viacom’s data strategy. Viacom’s recent DataFront, which he says is the first of its kind for the industry, caused a bit of excitement in the media ecosystem. 

I sat down with him and asked the following questions:

Charlene Weisler : Why a Datafront? What is it?

Kern Schireson: There is much more focus on data and that focus has increased this year compared to last year. It has become an open marketplace conversation. We at Viacom want to facilitate that discussion. There are hundreds of stakeholders in the industry and we all want to know how we can best bring the power of data to the premium content marketplace.

Charlene: Is there as aspect of programmatic in this?

Kern: Our data efforts at Viacom cover more than advertising. We use data for targeting – who is the right audience and the right consumer? We seek data to help us decode the context, set the right tone for advertisers and to find the right environment for the content to be served. We seek data insights on what happens after an ad airs, the impact on the consumer and how it might shape attitudes and intent.

Charlene: What datasets do you use?

Kern: Viewing data, what and when such as data from Nielsen, Rentrak and TIVO. What are people watching, who is watching, what feeling do they get from the content. We aggregate other data sources such as shopping, searching and online, what are they buying. And it is all collected in a privacy compliant manner.

Charlene: How can you predict ready - to - buy?

Kern: It depends on the category. Autos, for example, have very good datasets that show when you last bought a car and registered it. And we can see it by income levels, age, family composition. We know through analytics when a type of household will refresh their cars so we are better able to predict ready-to-buy. For other categories such as Travel and Technology we have partnered with Amex who has powerful closed loop cardholder data to help us predict what will happen next. This closed loop data is then matched to Nielsen so we have cardholder data with viewing. We are fiercely committed to respecting the privacy of viewers and brands. Amex is in a position to match de-identified data from cardholders to STB data and understand the patterns in aggregation.

Charlene: Privacy is certainly a legal issue. How much is it a consumer issue?

Kern: The more fluent and digitally native a person is the more comfortable they seem to be with the value exchange of some personal information for more relevant ads and content. Our audience has a preference for more relevant messaging. We prefer not to send an ad for diapers to a single 17 year old. We prefer to send an ad for clothing or cars – brands that they really care about. Relevance is good for everybody. But people are nervous so we want to educate the market in the correct way.

Charlene: Do you see a difference between TV and digital?

Kern: The distinction is tricky. If we talk about digital as being content fed over the IP, that could also apply to TV via a digital product like Roku which feels like a “traditional” television environment, as well as apply to Smart TVs. TV is professionally produced storytelling. We think of many digital companies as TV companies so we don’t have the right language for it yet. TV is a type of content, not a type of screen or delivery system.

Charlene: What is your definition of TV?

Kern: It is high quality, professionally produced storytelling across all screens and protocols. We are not in the business of plumbing (hardware, like the television box). We make great stories.

Charlene: How do you define engagement and how do you measure it?

Kern: People who are connecting with a piece of content in a number of ways both in the moment and afterwards. How relevant is the content in their social universe? How much time do they spend on the content? We also look at recall in standard metrics - now we can measure at scale in the social context. We also use focus groups and studies to find out if the content resonates.

Charlene: What are some of the results of the DataFront?

Kern: It was very well attended and resulted in some great conversations. I feel good about how we contributed to the dialogue. Some other media companies have asked us to partner with them so maybe we will join together as an industry. We also broke through with advertisers who felt that they needed that last piece of information.

Charlene: Where do you hope to be with the DataFront next year at this time?

Kern: I would like to see more folks participating – publishers and buyers, and to keep the dialogue alive. The more we share and collaborate, the better our efforts will be going forward.

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The Shift in the Data Discussion … Or Not? Questions From The ARF Measurement Conference

The annual ARF measurement conference is a time where researchers from across the media spectrum can gather, present and exchange their groundbreaking insights. As with previous years, one could walk away with a fuller understanding of the ongoing challenges our industry faces and acquire some actionable insights to help overcome them. And yet, this year was a little different in that the measuring of the creative, the sequencing of ad messages across platforms and applying neuroscience standards were also hot topics in addition to data. 

As with predicting the path of any changing environment, I came away with more questions. Here are some:

Demos Targets Are So Yesterday. Or Are They?
Instead of relying on demographic targets, why not use People Based Targeting segmentations? Dave Morgan, Founder/CEO Simulmedia, posed a provocative question and call to action, “Why are we sticking to inherently wrong protocols? We have to press the industry to do better.” Morgan then asked, “Have we started to make change?” Some, like David Poltrack, Chief Research Officer, CBS Corporation and President of CBS VISION, believes there is progress but it is slow.  “I think we are,” he said, “Look at the past year. There has been more progress in past 12 months than in past 12 years. But,” he cautioned, “We are not at the implementation stage yet. Advertisers are more comfortable about it than the agencies. It requires more manpower and systems need to change. This upfront people are doing the analysis and the learning and informing their buying. But the marketplace is still transacting on traditional data. The market is still demographically driven."

Could Reach Become the Measurement Standard?
If we start to move from age and gender proxy metrics, is there a way to either standardize segments or offer another standardize-able measurement? I believe that it will be very difficult to agree on standard segments which may even defeat the purpose of segmented targeting to one’s niche and unique consumer target. So agreeing on another, more standardize-able metric might be the solution. One suggestion was Reach, possibly Average Daily Reach which takes into account recency. According to Bill Harvey, CEO of Bill Harvey Consulting, recency is critical for the ad message to be more effective. “Advertising has most pronounced effect in first 48 hours,” he explained, “and average daily reach is the most critical test of recency.” Quoting the late Erwin Ephron, Harvey then advised, “plan and buy for continuous short term reach,” and concludes, “We as an industry should be looking at daily reach.”

Can You Measure and Push Creative Across Platforms Using Brain Activity Data?
Dr. Manuel Garcia-Garcia, SVP Research and Innovation: Global and Ad Effectiveness at the ARF, offered insights concerning the measurement of creative and how it should best be fed through the advertising funnel.  His neuroscience based insights include:
Ø  Customize creative for the specific platform. “You can amplify consumer engagement if you customize your creative for the specific platform and don't just repurpose creative,” he explained.
Ø  Two platforms are better than one. It increases percent purchase intent by 36%.
Ø  In terms of sequencing the messaging, generally start with TV. “We measure engagement through skin conductor response,” Garcia-Garcia said, “And if you start with digital, then go to TV, there will be less TV impact. But if you feed you ad in mobile before TV, that equals higher memory according to the neuroscience.”
Ø  TV messaging that is preceded by a different platform tends to get higher brand consideration.
Ø  A TV ad that explained product or service benefits resulted in higher purchase intent.
Ø  In adding digital to a TV raised brand consideration up three times.
Ø  Creative strategy is key to optimizing impact. “Do mobile first if the execution is customized to mobile,” Garcia-Garcia recommended, “But if your campaign is not there yet, start with TV when creative is being repurposed or is not unified.”
Ø  Finally, the “Platform does not determine strategy,” he warned, “Strategy should determine the platform.”

Which Way Forward?
Gayle Fuguitt, CEO and President of the ARF, energized the attendees with a call to action. “The time is now!” she exclaimed. “What are needed are fearless leaders to step up and not be afraid to ask the hard questions.” Much of what was presented at this year’s ARF Measurement Conference gives us lots of hard questions to ask. Let’s now resolve to work together to solve for the answers.

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