The Secrets of Ad Avoidance. Interview with Ashwin Navin

Ashwin Navin, CEO and Co-Founder Samba TV, has been focused on the data foundations of television advertising and broadcasting for several years. There is probably no time more exciting than now to be involved in crafting all of the data coming in from viewership across platforms. 

But, according to Navin, “The challenges are obvious. Audiences are dividing their attention by screens. Right now, 25% of the viewership for primetime TV shows is occurring outside of the TV. It was reported that the Olympics in Rio compared to London declined 17% in TV viewing but consumption on other devices was up +22% Samba is uniquely able to measure the audience across all screens holistically, so that media companies can effectively sell their entire audience and advertisers can more accurately plan their media across screens.”

Charlene Weisler: What data do you collect at Samba?

Ashwin Navin: We have data from hundreds of millions of devices, including Smart TVs, Set Top Boxes, mobile devices and personal computers by way of our software and SDKs integrated across all of these platforms. We also map our customer’s data to these devices in a deterministic manner, so that our customers have precise direction on how to segment their audiences and more effectively reach them.

Charlene Weisler: What is an SDK?

Ashwin Navin: SDK stands for Software Development Kit which is a module within a software application. Our SDK goes inside a mobile application, so that the app developer can get some aggregated data and analysis on its usage. An analogy would be the Lojack in a car. A car manufacturer will include the Lojack module, to help their customers locate the car if it’s in a parking lot or if it gets stolen. "SDK" is industry standard lingo to describe when one company includes a third party's software within its own application. 

Charlene Weisler: What metrics do you use?

Ashwin Navin: We report to our advertising clients reach, frequency, engagement not just on TV but on other screens. Our clients are really excited about the way we measure viewership and report on the effect of ad avoidance on their TV media plan. It’s no secret that ad free services, binge watching and ad skipping are mainstream behaviors, and we can report on their effect at the spot level. TV ad attribution is a hot topic now and we can measure what TV buys are doing in terms of brand engagement post-exposure.

Charlene Weisler: Generally speaking, what percentage of ads are avoided?

Ashwin Navin: On major networks during primetime, we have found that as much as 45% of ads are not being viewed because of ad skipping. This will be a big theme for next year – what shows, genres and dayparts are most susceptible to ad avoidance.

Charlene Weisler: What types of shows are more susceptible to ad skipping?

Ashwin Navin: Strong themes are emerging from the data. Daytime versus Primetime, news, sports, comedy, live, debates – interesting trends are emerging that will drive media spend in the future. Daytime soaps and news, family/kids programming are generally consumed live, as are sports and news of course. The challenges are in dramas especially in the first two seasons of a new show as the audience develops. There is more cross platform viewing and time-shifting, and therefore ad skipping. But should that drama become more popular overtime, and as it becomes a watercooler conversation topic, live viewership starts to build as viewers are more concerned about spoiler alerts. By season five of a good show, the live audience grows significantly.

Charlene Weisler: How do you see ads performing across platforms with your data?

Ashwin Navin: Most of our clients are advertisers. Our data typically helps prove that TV advertising by itself reaches the most people with a story that builds brand awareness. With the addition of digital advertising reaching the same audience on TV, we see that 1+1=3. When someone has seen the brand on both TV and digital, there is dramatically more brand recall, engagement and conversion. Our data helps segment the audience between TV exposed and unexplored, and then makes these segments addressable with the right strategy.

Charlene Weisler: How do you keep ahead of the data trends?

Ashwin Navin: First and foremost, we are a company with an engineering focus. We have about 3 engineers for every 1 salesperson, and that ratio of engineering to sales works really well for keeping our innovation engine running strong. We can keep pushing the envelope as to what is possible, and a singular focus on device-level data is helpful. Device--level data will become the currency of the future because it is NOT tied to any particular content delivery mechanism. To measure over-the-air TV 40 years ago, we used a meter. To measure 500 channels on cable TV, we shifted to cable set-top box data. Now, with OTT services, connected TV devices, DVRs, TV Everywhere apps, traditional measurement won’t suffice. Content recognition across connected devices generates data that much more accurately describes the highly fragmented media landscape we live-in today. It also becomes the foundation for highly precise audience segmentation, as well as deterministic attribution models.

Charlene Weisler: Where do you see the media industry going in the next five years?

Ashwin Navin: We absolutely believe that the consumer landscape will be much more fragmented in the future than it is today. Consumers have absolute control over their media, and fragmentation is the new normal. The measurement challenge will be more pronounced, and the methodology surrounding C3 viewership, with audiences described by age and gender brackets will start to feel inadequate. Media will be described much more precisely in the future, and TV advertising will be priced on a performance basis across every screen the consumer has available to consume video. We intend to be a leader in making that a reality through our technology and methodology.

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Nielsen Total Audience Measurement Rollout

The recent announcement by Nielsen of the full rollout of its Nielsen Total Audience Measurement platform by March 2017 comes at a welcome time for the media industry seeking cross-platform measurement solutions. Through Nielsen Total Audience, multiple platforms will be measured and combined into one common metric, enabling comparison across platforms for advertisers and content providers.

Measurement Milestone
As Nielsen spokesman Ben Billingsley explained, “Total audience is the framework for measuring audiences across platforms so that the data can be presented in comparable fashion from TV to digital on a like-for-like basis.”

According to Nielsen, Nielsen Total Audience has been in the works since the beginning of the year, culling feedback and insights from members of their Senior Research Council, which comprises twenty-five of their largest television and agency clients.

Read the full article on Videa.


Executing a Change Management Approach in Media

A big challenge for media executives is how to craft a change management approach to ensure future business growth, while also guiding change strategically and fluidly. Change is never easy and is often a slow process. In this environment of expected annual financial growth, continued rising stock prices and bonuses based on annual performance, it’s easy to choose quick gains at the expense of future stability.

Vortex of Change
Agencies are in a change vortex as the Internet of Things (IoT) and other data sets are impacting job requirements, the technology used to process all this data, and client expectations regarding the best measurements, platforms, and creatives to grow their businesses.

Read the full article on the Videa blog.


Listening in a Crowd – The Next Step in Out Of Home Measurement

CNN Airport Network recently announced a new initiative using Computer Vision and Deep Learning technology developed by Tunity that has the capability of adding a new dimension to out of home television viewing. 

How often are we at an airport or at bar and can view the screens but can’t quite hear what is going on? Tunity’s download-able app enables viewers to also become listeners. Yaniv Davidson, Founder of Tunity, believes that it is possible to attribute actual listening to specific out of home viewing. “Turner’s bold decision to adopt Tunity and promote it first to its CNN Airport Network viewers opens up a whole new era in out of home viewing,” he explained. “Viewers will now be able to receive crystal clear audio via their cell phones at the same time they see the video on a live TV set.”

“Our goal is to constantly improve the passenger experience by bringing air travelers quality news and entertainment programming wherever they may be in the airport,” explains Debbie Cooper, President of Turner Private Networks . “Bringing a technology like Tunity to CNN Airport Network allows us to better serve the passenger, allowing them to be engaged with the screens not only with a visual but with clear, synchronized sound at their personal volume level. We know through years of research that if someone cannot hear the audio clearly, they are less likely to pay attention. Tunity is a unique opportunity to take advantage of the technology that many of us use every day, a smart phone and headphones,” she adds.

Charlene Weisler: What is the unique advantage of using Tunity for television out of home measurement?

Yaniv Davidson: Currently there is no good metric for TV Out of Home because there is no technology out there that can capture who is watching what and where. For example, the Portable people meter needs to capture audio, which either doesn't exist in out of home, or exists, but might be just a background noise to a consumer that is merely in the TV's general area. Tunity can prove that a viewer is actively watching a TV, when and where. It is not an anecdotal piece of information, like a survey, it's hard, detailed data about real viewers. It can be the first platform one to shed a light on an audience that's never been measured before.

Charlene Weisler: How do you expect CNN Airport Network will use the information gained from Tunity?

Debbie Cooper: The data sets that we are creating with Tunity will give us insights into who our audience is, what they are interested in and, maybe even someday, where they are headed on their next flight. The strategic knowledge we get from this information will allow us to deliver a more personalized, engaging experience.

Yaniv Davidson: We are still in the phase of working on the data and we want CNN Airport Network to be a partner in that. We would like CNN Airport Network to give us their input so the end result is something they could use as a metric to evaluate how many (additional) viewers are watching a specific channel at a specific time in a specific location and communicate this to their potential advertisers. This is just the beginning. Eventually, I think that Tunity will enable content creators like Turner, to push personalized content to viewers' screens while they are watching TV - this will be based on who the viewers are, what they are watching at the moment, where they are and their past preference (or preference of viewers who belong to the same segment and are in the same context as them). Tunity can help Turner evaluate the effectivity of every piece of content - by segment, location context, etc.

Charlene Weisler: Will CNN Airport Network get demographic or lifestyle attributes?

Yaniv Davidson: There is some direct data that we have - like age and location - and there is additional demographic data that can be extracted or added to the data we already have. For now, we are focusing on location, age and gender - but there is a lot more we plan to add in the future.

Charlene Weisler: What makes this unique compared to other out-of-home measurement applications?

Debbie Cooper: For CNN Airport Network, it’s not just an issue of out-of-home measurement but constantly improving the customer experience. If we can be more available to more people regardless of their proximity to a television screen, that’s a benefit to us and to the audience. We will continue to use our other measurement tools and systems but having Tunity data will give us the best available data using best technology in as close to real time as possible. This allows us to know who, when and where our audience is. There have been several times I’ve been at an airport, either in a gate-hold area, restaurant or lounge and I’ve seen one person see the promotion we’re running for Tunity that explains how it works. They download the app and in a matter of seconds the audio is synched to the screen. Another few seconds pass and the person sitting next to them asks how they are able to get the audio and they repeat the download process. You can see the light bulbs go off as people experience Tunity for the first time. They have their phones out constantly, they typically have their headphones in too. Tying those together with what’s on the screen across the room or seating area is a breakthrough for CNN Airport Network.

Yaniv Davidson: This is the first time a major media company is working to solve the issue of measuring Out-of-Home TV viewership and leveraging a new and unique solution to both solve a real issue for its audience and advertisers as well as extract unique data - not available until today. Turner is leveraging the latest technology (this level of Computer Vision and Deep Learning could not have been done 4 years ago - computing power was just too expensive and Deep Learning did not really exist...) to statistically and scientifically measure what is a significant portion of their viewership. It also solves an issue for their viewers on the go - and the advertisers trying to engage with them.

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AOL’s Programmatic TV Offering. Interview with Amanda Powter

Amanda Powter, VP, Product for ONE by AOL: TV, studied library and information sciences which she applied to building and launching software products. She has focused her career on building innovative products with different kinds of data and sophisticated software and technology.
Starting first at, she created data-driven and analytics features for both buyers and sellers. Then, at PrecisionDemand, she led a team that built software for targeting and measuring the impact of television advertising. “We were acquired by AOL in 2014 to expand upon’s offering in digital video with linear TV. I love being able to combine my technical knowledge with experience in TV advertising to create a product that understands TV from the ground up and brings it into a powerful cross-channel solution in ONE by AOL,” she says.
Charlene Weisler: What is ONE by AOL?

Amanda Powter: It is our flagship programmatic platform for both advertisers and publishers.  On the buy side, ONE by AOL enables brands and marketers to optimize their campaigns across all screens, formats, channels, and inventory types. On the sell side, we support publishers, helping them maximize their inventory and drive meaningful monetization across every format and channel. ONE by AOL is a complete end-to-end stack, increasing efficiency, reducing waste, and improving performance. We give both advertisers and publishers full control of their own data, choice of tools, and media. And we offer a powerful analytics engine at the core of the technology, driving actionable results with real-time audience data and cross-channel insights.

Charlene Weisler: What is the overall 'elevator pitch' for its new self serve initiative for ONE by AOL:TV? How does data play a role?

Amanda Powter: We expanded our flagship ONE by AOL Platform to include a self-service programmatic TV buying module. It brings national TV network inventory – premium broadcast and cable with audience scale to match – into a self-service, data-driven, and interactive planning and buying platform. Traditionally, linear TV inventory has been bought using broad demographics that lack the necessary targeting to drive deep relevancy.

We have applied real-time planning and intelligent automation to core parts of the workflow, which allows marketers to take full advantage of rich data capabilities quickly and easily while still interfacing seamlessly into existing TV systems and processes. With our new self-serve programmatic TV module, we put advanced data capabilities and precision in the hands of buyers. We believe it will advance the way TV media is valued, bought, and sold.

Charlene Weisler: Tell me the specifics as to how it works and can it be cross platform?

Amanda Powter: Advertisers can take campaign buying and targeting into their own hands. They can go into the platform and with just a few clicks, generate a TV media plan – selecting audience targets, establishing KPIs, and setting campaign parameters – interactively on top of real-time services with the most timely inventory and audience data available.

Marketers build plans against national broadcast and cable TV inventory leveraging their own rich first-party data or proxy targets built from hundreds of attributes, and our proprietary TV viewership scoring metric, to understand how these plans will deliver against their specific targets. Once they have generated the plan that meets their goals, they can submit the order directly to the networks from within the platform through a fully automated integration directly with our network partners. With our platform, advertisers purchase inventory and measure campaign performance with complete supply and pricing transparency, transacting highly targeted programmatic buys alongside their existing buys.

We have also made it possible for TV media plans to be influenced, in real-time, by granular campaign learnings. Through use of our Convertro measurement and attribution offering, advertisers that execute TV media plans may also have access to distinct, data-driven insights into their campaign impact through built-in multi-touch attribution spanning linear TV, mobile, and digital. For instance, advertisers can correlate a television ad’s influence on mobile site traffic or digital video viewership. This allows advertisers to develop “smart campaigns” that can pivot as needed, based on attribution learnings.

Charlene Weisler: What datasets are used?

Amanda Powter: We leverage rich first-party advertiser customer data – such as advertiser CRM data – or proxy targets built by selecting from hundreds of attributes, which are then analyzed through our patented predictive targeting tools. This is integrated into the self-service module where the most up-to-date inventory is scored in real time as a user is interactively planning their campaign.  Through third-party audience data partnerships in place with the industry’s top automotive, in-store shopping, demographic and TV viewing data companies, including Experian, Acxiom Personicx, MRI, IHS Automotive, Shopcom, and Rentrak, we also are able to enable these TV targeting segments within our self-serve module. Combined, we are bringing marketers the most extensive data and targeting solutions for TV, allowing them to make more effective media buys that are driven by person-level data and proprietary predictive audience targeting.

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