Bridging Qualitative and Quantitative Research Together. Interview with Marcela Tabares

Marcela Tabares, SVP, Strategic Insights, Revenue at A+E Networks, studied Political Science at NYU with noble ambitions of making the world a better place. She started her journey working at the Americas Society / Council of the Americas, which promotes understanding of the economic, political and social issues confronting the Americas. “I was fascinated by the work in driving awareness of the cultural heritage of Latin America, but I could barely survive in NYC working in the non-profit sector. So with hopes of getting into journalism, I eyed media as a viable stepping stone and landed a job at Nielsen as an administrative assistant,” she explained. 

It was there that she got hooked on research and has (rarely) looked back. She worked her way up to Research Supervisor before moving to the agency world, making stops at OMD and Mediavest, then shifting to publisher-side, leading the sales research efforts at MTV and eventually to A+E Networks. While sales research may seem like a significant departure from her early ambitions, there are common and constant values that underpin her career: a curiosity to understand human behavior and cultural influence, and the art of storytelling.

Her current job at A+E applies these passions through qualitative and quantitative research precepts that produce compelling insights for both sales and clients. “The role of research has changed tremendously since I first started,” she noted. “At a recent dinner with a friend, we laughed recalling that we literally (and almost comically) sat in a dark, back corner office where we were isolated from the general population (though sometimes that worked to our benefit, especially as twenty-somethings). We went from working in the background to being a strategic voice at the table, but even more interestingly, the essence of the work itself is far more dynamic, creative and challenging. That’s been the most exciting part!” she added. 

Charlene Weisler: Tell me about the work you do at A+E.

Marcela Tabares: My team works directly with the sales and revenue management teams to help drive the sales effort. It’s really interesting work because we have to flex between left and right side thinking as we blend analytical rigor with creative storytelling. We play with a wide range of research techniques, methodologies and datasets, in a problem solving and insight based approach. 

Our work falls into three key buckets – 1. Advertising effectiveness to understand how partnerships are delivering against client KPI’s and to gain insight on how to enhance experiences for future efforts. 2. Data driven decision making where we help navigate business conversations regarding data implementation and strategy. We work with client on advanced targeting solutions, integrating first and third party datasets for precision-based optimizations. 3. Cultural and human insights studies, which is some of my favorite work. Over the past 18 months, we’ve been conducting some fascinating research on gender identity, exploring how womanhood and masculinity have evolved and translating the insights for content creators and advertisers. We’re about to come out of field with the second phase of the womanhood study in which we applied anthropological methods to understand how women of diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds perceive gender representation in advertising. It was really eye-opening to hear their experiences and aspirations; I’m excited to use the insights to advance the conversation around how young girls and women should be portrayed. In fact, we’ve shared our work with the ANA’s #SeeHer committee members and it was very resonant as it closely aligns their mission and goals. 

Charlene Weisler: How did it feel to move to an agency from a supplier?

Marcela Tabares: It was like a baptism by fire! I was thrown into all sorts of projects that were way above my level of experience at the time.  At first, I was terrified of failure but that fear put a fire in my belly and really pushed me. I learned invaluable lessons and I’d say it was probably the most formative experience I’ve had – I realized my untapped potential, it thickened my skin, built my confidence and taught me how to take challenges head on. An example that comes to mind is when the company sent me to Colombia to lead a regional workshop on strategic planning, in Spanish. I was only a Sr. Analyst and I hardly even understood strategic planning in English! It was a bit terrifying but an absolutely amazing opportunity. I want to pass that forward to others. I believe empowerment is critical for learning and growing - give people opportunity, get out of their way and allow them to stumble…I think too much guidance can be limiting.

Charlene Weisler: Where do you see the role of research going 3-5 years from now?

Marcela Tabares: Technology will continue to advance, data will get bigger and systems and processes will become more sophisticated. So while there will continue to be demand for data science, I also see increased importance in bridging the two divisions of the research role in the future - of hard data driven analytics and the cultural, human insights from qualitative research. We need to connect the Art and Science of research to harness its fullest power and this takes an innate curiosity, creativity, and constant critical thinking to illuminate meaning from data big AND small; it’s an important skill to be able to synthesize stories that engage the organization and offer meaningful insights for the marketplace. That’s my focus with my team – building the bridge and connecting the dots through great storytelling.

Charlene Weisler: What is your outlook on mentorship?

Marcela Tabares:  I think of mentoring as “always on” and it often happens in unplanned, unexpected ways. From my experience, it has worked best organically and unstructured. Working with my team, I am mindful of providing honest feedback, especially in areas that they need to develop…it’s not always the most popular approach but I believe it will be productive in the long run. I also believe in leading by example and stretching people beyond their comfort zone. Some humility also goes a long way - I have no problem admitting that I don’t have all the answers and it’s often more fun figuring it out together. I was never a part of a formal mentorship program until recently. This year I was a mentor through NAMIC and I think I learned just as much from my mentee and am looking forward to continuing the relationship.
Over the last year, I’ve been a part of an internal women’s leadership group, whi
ch has been a really empowering experience (it’s the closest I’ve ever been to having mentors.) I’ve developed relationships with a group of colleagues who I can turn to for leadership advice; they’re there to listen and give me clarity on how to handle tough situations. Most of us are in similar leadership and family/lifestage situations, so I feel very lucky to have this resource of incredibly smart women who are empathetic and supportive.  

Charlene Weisler: How do you achieve work/life balance?

Marcela Tabares: I have two young boys so my philosophy these days is “Let it go”. I learn how to let go of self-prescribed expectations and the “should do’s”. The reality is that I can’t do it all so I need to be accepting and kind with myself, while embracing the chaos Every day is a dance with prioritizing life’s demands.  And you can’t do it alone so it’s really important to have a strong support system at home and at work. My husband cooks, I clean (he gets the creative end of that deal) and we juggle the rest. At work, I have a great team and a boss that’s flexible and understanding. It gets kinda crazy at times so I need some stillness and something to ground me; I turn to yoga, mindfulness and spiritual practice (and a glass of wine). Our motto at home is “it never works out as planned, but it always works out”. It makes life more entertaining.

Charlene Weisler: Please give me some predictions about the state of media in the next couple of years.

Marcela Tabares: We continue apace with technological developments that accelerate personalization, targeting capabilities, accountability metrics, and so on. More data, more sophistication that will bring greater value to the ecosystem and (hopefully) mitigate confusion. Metrics have been messy and I think some of the chaos and chest-pounding will settle and we’ll get closer to a consensus on trading metrics - we might even reach a standardized cross-platform currency. It’s been a complicated time for folks on all sides of the table and I think more dynamic relationships with advertisers will unfold; we will see greater collaboration in bringing their stories to life through new creative formats and context will matter even more. Overall, I think it will be a more vibrant environment. This is a bit self-serving, but I’d say greater value on human insights that link data to creativity and great storytelling.

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What Is a GRP? And Are They Effective?

What is a GRP? A GRP, or Gross Rating Point, is an entrenched sales metric used to measure the deliverability of an advertiser’s contract.

According to the CIMM Lexicon, GRP is “calculated by totaling all the ratings for all the shows or ads bought in an advertiser’s contract reported as a gross number.

Originally a television term, now it has adopted it for internet video as well, leading to a cross platform measurement tool for advertisers who buy both television and online video. The formula is Reach X Average Frequency equals Total GRPs.” As long as the GRP delivery matches what has been agreed to in a sales contract, the contract is met its goal and the audience delivered as promised.

Read the full article on the Videa blog.

IMF: Unleashing The Benefits of File-based Content

Last February 2016 we announced the Interoperable Master Format (IMF) roadshow which was so successful that there is another roadshow planned for February 2017. Chris Lennon, President and CEO, MediaAnswers, explains what IMF is -

Charlene Weisler: What is the Interoperable Master Format (IMF) and why is it important?

Chris Lennon: The Interoperable Master Format is a relatively new SMPTE standard, allowing, among other things, mastering of material which might need to be distributed in a variety of versions, to a variety of destinations. This is critically important as we continue to create derivative versions of commercials and programs.  

It is a trend that is likely to expand - if you have a commercial that will run with different graphics, voice overs, in different languages, or even with some scenes differing from market to market, or platform to platform, do you really want to have dozens of different copies of the commercial to manage?  Wouldn’t it be better to have one copy, with metadata directing how to play it out? IMF is already in use today, and has enjoyed great success although it’s a relatively recent technology.  In fact, we’ll be discussing several real-world examples of implementations in the media business at these seminars.

Here is the information on the seminars:

You’ve moved from video to IT infrastructures, you’ve heard about the many benefits file-based workflows should deliver. Now what?

MXF files were presented as a tape replacement. Today many of us are trapped: good things from the linear videotapes are gone… but what about the many benefits IT based environments can bring?
Unleashing all the potential requires switching over to a new model. This new model is about getting mindsets to move away from videotapes. Welcome to components, packages and IMF!
This one-day seminar will get you up to speed on what IMF is, and how it can help you and your organization not only survive, but thrive in the ever-changing area of file-based workflows. This interactive session will show IMF as it can be used in the real world:

·         Solutions from the 20+ vendors that support it
·         10+ practical demonstrations of implementations
·         15+ use cases

This session is designed to provide (in a fun and interactive environment):
·         An overall understanding of the IMF standard
·         A focus on the most interesting aspects of IMF, which make it so appealing
·         A focus on the business and technical fundamentals required to use the IMF standard. Course participants will gain an understanding of the basics of interoperability and versioning problems using IMF.

Just a few comments from past attendees
“A great overview of an important topic for our industry”
“An excellent overview of a subject that affect the film and TV business workflow in a positive way!”
“This was a great top to bottom look into the world of IMF”
“This was a great balance of macro and micro perspective on IMF and it's deployment.  Thank you!”

Registration is available at the links below:
·         February 14, 2017: Washington, DC (hosted by PBS)
·         February 15, 2017: New York (hosted by ANA)
·         February 17, 2017: Los Angeles (hosted by FOX)

Space is extremely limited, so register today! Cost is only $299 per person for the full day seminar, or $285 for SMPTE or AICE members! Deadline for registration is one week prior to each seminar.

Next Gen Audience Based Targeting Comes of Age Activating Emotionally Attached Audiences Changes the Playing Field. Interview with Gary Reisman.

The media industry’s transition into more data driven solutions enables us to get closer to a highly valuable consumer target.  Data ubiquity and modeling capabilities have definitely changed the landscape.  That said, Gary Reisman believes a new approach that adds consumer Emotional Attachment into the process can significantly improve Audience Based targeting – both in the quality of the audiences targeted and ROI resulting from media investments toward those audiences.

Reisman’s company, LEAP Media Investments, is a new type of Audience Development Company.  The company has conceived a way to activate audiences who are intrinsically connected with specific brands and who can be activated in online, social and mobile media and, in advanced-TV planning and buying.

 A patented process, 10 years in the making, LEAP develops “right-brain” data that quantifies the level of emotional attachment a consumer has to a brand, service or product.  The data, when modeled with big-data sets creates scaled, highly responsive audiences that enable more focused upper-funnel brand consideration and purchase.

“It’s widely known that over 75% of our purchase decisions are made based on emotion – meaning the bonds and relationships we have with brands and products yields relevance and meaning that drive us to engage and purchase brands and products.  Today’s demo, behavioral and transactional data simply do not develop audiences “connected” to the brand” Reisman explains. The next generation of audience-based targeting must also add emotion.

Reisman has dedicated his efforts to activating emotional attachment in media. “As a marketer, I saw a huge gap between the brand insight used for strategic positioning and creative development and the less insightful data used for media activation,” he explained. “For example, Walmart may know what drives attachment to their consumers. But when they then go to plan and buy media, they are stuck using ‘left-brain’ behavior and transaction data with some demo overlays  – attributes that do not leverage the brand equity and connections they have with their consumers,” he concluded.

Charlene Weisler: What do you mean by Emotional Attachment?

Gary Reisman: We define emotional attachment as the quantified value of the visceral brand connection a person has to a particular brand. Essentially it is their unwillingness to give up the brand. When quantified, this attachment translates to a person’s level of desire to engage, use or buy the brand or product and it correlates or equates to their brand share, revenue contribution and profitability. It is also a quotient that defines a consumer’s lifetime value to a brand or product.

Charlene Weisler: Why is emotional attachment so important?

Gary Reisman: It’s not just important, it is essential.  We have found that building audiences with increased levels of emotional attachment provide many benefits. Based on case studies, we have found that activating media based on LEAP’s emotional attachment leads to increased ad attentiveness/engagement (consumers are +50% more attentive to the ad message), increased brand advocacy, sharing and potential viral activity (consumers are +43% more likely to share brand messaging across their social channels) plus an increases in sales (consumers are up to 2.5 times more likely to buy) and increased media ROI. 

Charlene Weisler: How does LEAP develop their Audiences?

Gary Reisman: LEAP uses a patented data collection technique that tags thousands of individuals with the level of emotional attachment they have to hundreds of brands and media properties.  Through proper data sharing techniques, tagged individuals are matched with big data houses (DMP’s/DSP’s), then modeled and scaled for insightful strategic planning and audience activation

Our data creates three unique audiences that brands can target – Brand Enthusiasts Audiences – who closely represent those most attached to the brand; Brand Conquest Audiences, those who are moderately attached to your brand or competitive brands, and Brand Expansion Audiences who are the least attached and who offer the least amount of return.

We advise advertisers to reallocate their investment dollars to their two most emotionally attached groups – the Enthusiasts and Conquests.  When this is done, we have seen media ROI increases can be as high as 50-75%. Brands we have directly worked with have seen significant year on year sales growth.

We are also enabling a fusion with Nielsen data so the results can be stewarded through sales contract systems. Our data can also be incorporated into DMPs for planning and DSPs for advanced television online, social and mobile targeting.

Charlene Weisler: So give me an example.

Gary Reisman: Every brand has its own business plan and strategic needs. So a brand like Pepsi can develop and activate media that targets LEAP’s Pepsi Enthusiasts to drive low-hanging fruit sales. Alternatively they can plan and activate the LEAP Pepsi Conquests Audiences to gain more revenue from Pepsi consumers that are in need of a marketing push or Conquest against competitor’s LEAP Conquest audiences to steal share. Of course Pepsi is just one example; LEAP has developed audiences for over 400 brands across 25 categories

Charlene Weisler: Where does LEAP fit in the world of big data?

Gary Reisman: There is simply too much data and it is creating complexity, chaos and additional expense for brands. Also, everyone generally has the same data and is doing the same thing with data. To have a competitive advantage, you need a new approach; a new, more strategic, way to derive enhanced value and insight from that data and most importantly, activate true Audience-Based Targeting in today’s media marketplace.   Overlaying LEAP data provides a powerful, proven lens on the data – determining which data is more important that other data and modeling audiences predicted to engage with the brand.

This article first appeared in Media Village.


DTC Advertising: Finding the Right Prescription

Direct to Consumer (DTC) pharma advertising has its advocates and its detractors. Some believe that it puts valuable medical information in the hands of consumers while others believe that it has a controversial underside, doing less to protect patients and more to spur sales. For planners in the DTC advertising space, a data-driven approach to the media decision-making process is imperative. Planners need to understand what opportunities are available for hyper targeting and in what advanced solutions they should invest as complements to the modern mix.

Targeting the right consumers with DTC advertising while protecting privacy can be achieved with a combination of different PII datasets and followed by a careful crafting of audience segmentations that combine both broadcast and cable. Some companies, like television media solutions company Cadent, use a blind match process through third party partners like Experian which combines anonymized subscriber data with other personal attributes such as purchase data or prescription data. This data is then ingested into their platform to create more efficient buys for their pharma clients.

"Cadent's pharma business has grown dramatically, especially in this past Upfront and we expect it to be a category of tremendous growth for us, in part because of our ability to use data-driven media plans for our clients," said Jim Tricarico, CRO of Cadent Network. "Our pharma advertisers have seen great results by using a combination of data-enabled plans alongside national reach campaigns, across both cable and broadcast, to reach their audiences at different points of the purchase funnel."

One of Cadent's data partners, TiVo, uses direct match. According to Bill Harvey of Bill Harvey Consulting, "The direct HIPAA-certified match is (in my opinion) the best of breed privacy protected pharma solution out there. Unlike solutions involving degrees of fusion and lookalikes, it's all direct match. Unlike the other solutions, it works both for post evaluation analytics of ROI and its leverageable components, and also for pre-buy and in-flight optimization for TV and digital."

"When HIPAA regulations prevent a 1-to-1 addressable solution, there is an option to add another layer of TV impressions that don't jump right to the traditional TV DMA," said Shelley Stansfield, Director Special Ops at demand-side targeted TV platform Centriply. "Rolling up audience counts with a certain condition to the zip, county or a custom region can preserve privacy while still achieving efficiency in TV media delivery by finding areas of high concentration across the country."

Targeting to the individual can easily be achieved in digital, especially mobile, making it a seemingly desirable medium for DTC advertisers. Digital's capability to hyper target, however, may skirt the boundaries of privacy. "In regard to privacy concerns on hyper-targeting patients, I see this in online ads targeted based on the patient's Internet searches," explained Dr. Bruce Rector of Rector Consulting and Doctors for America.
There is a regulatory reason for data hyper-vigilance in DTC advertising. The FDA's Office of Prescription Drug Promotion (OPDP) has, according to their website, "an active research program designed to investigate applied and theoretical issues of relevance to direct-to-consumer (DTC) and professional promotional prescription drug materials. OPDP's research supports the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) goal of science-based policy while maintaining its commitment to protect the public health."

According to Kantar Media, pharma spending on direct-to-consumer advertising in 2015 totaled $5.4 billion in 2015 compared to $4.3 billion in 2014. Not only was this a +19% year-to-year increase, it also equaled the high mark of $5.4 billion spent in 2006. Growth in DTC spending can be explained by the number of new FDA–approved drugs on the market, patent expiration and more competition in the market. These factors are generally trackable in the short term.

Share of spend is more revealing. While digital advertising for a range of consumer products and services is accelerating often at the expense of TV, the opposite is true for pharma. "Since 2011, the portion of DTC spending on TV has increased from 55% to 69%," according to the Pharmaguy at Pharma Marketing blog. In 2015, Pfizer allocated nearly 30% of its billion-dollar budget to network television while Novartis spent nearly half of its budget in cable.

Investments in television can also be explained by an older target demo. According to the latest Nielsen Total Audience Report, adults age 50+ spend the most hours with television a week. The Pharmaguy adds, "as pharma focuses more and more on drugs that treat diseases of old age such as Alzheimer's, it's to be expected that more and more of the industry's advertising budget is devoted to TV."
For DTC advertisers and planners, understanding how to unlock the full potential of television advertising requires an awareness of the data and solutions in market, not only because of the FDA but because the future demands it.

As Shelley Stansfield noted, "We were recently at a data conference and it was predicted that medical data collection is the next breakthrough arena for data mining and advancement. Disease states measured at the hospital level, clinic or office level provides trending data for predictive analytics. It was generally agreed that when predictive and cogitative data applications can drive awareness in media to both professional circles and consumers everyone will benefit."

This article first appeared on

What Is a DMP? And Why Does Everyone Want One?

As the media business becomes more data driven, those working in it are creating new terms to help describe new processes, such as “DMP.” And what is a DMP? It’s a data management platform.

According to the CIMM Lexicon, DMPs are systems and data repositories to store, organize, manage, and retrieve data sets. DMPs help normalize datasets to enable audience analytics and, ideally, to optimize media buys for advertisers. DMPs are a crucial part of any successful data-driven campaign, enabling large repositories of data to be accurately integrated, compared, and analyzed.

The Local Advantage

Local TV, which for years has had to contend with small local market measurement samples, stands to greatly benefit from the big data capability of DMPs. Not only can they now collect more and disparate first- and third-party datasets related to local TV performance into larger, more stable samples, but they can also confidently expand their analyses across platforms and create audience segments (depending on what data their DMP ingests).

Read the full article on the Videa blog.


Accelerating Attribution

Attribution, according to the CIMM Lexicon is “The reason that a prospective customer does what they do. More specifically, why they came to the site, entered the funnel, and performed a given action. (Source: Mediamath)” Accurate attribution would enable a marketer to get the correctly measured sequencing of consumer initiated events that influenced that consumer’s behavior. It is not an easy task.

CIMM recently hosted an attribution accelerator conference where speakers from such companies as Turner, CIMM, Nielsen, comScore, Time Inc., J&J, Citibank, Sequent Partners, AOL, Rubicon, Google, TubeMogul, Verizon and Samba TV presented their views on attribution. Where is attribution research today? How can we spur development to ensure existing models can keep up with demand as attribution moves beyond digital?

I sat down with Jim Spaeth, and Alice Sylvester, both Partners at Sequent Partners and asked them the following questions:

Charlene Weisler:  Please define attribution and the best forms of attribution 

Alice Sylvester: Attribution is the study of individual media tactics’ contribution to sales. The best forms of attribution do not use a priori models that pre-suppose the solution (first click, last click, W, U etc.).  The best forms of attribution incorporate other elements besides digital, at the household level. 

Charlene Weisler:  Tell me what your company is doing to track and measure attribution. 

Alice Sylvester: We have a number of projects going on – notably the Attribution Accelerator event, which will quicken the pace of innovation, fortify the science and galvanize the industry toward new attribution solutions. We also have a CIMM study of Attribution that will assess best practices and areas of improvement in cross-platform attribution.

Charlene Weisler:  Which existing models are doing the best job of attribution? 

Jim Spaeth: We don’t know — we will be looking to identify a best practice over the course of the next few days — we do know, however, that many of the existing models are insufficient given that they need to: reflect the fact that media has diminishing returns and adstock effects, that media has short and long term effects, that the media have interactions among them, that there is an effect of the brand (baseline), different responses by consumer segments and past purchasing behavior, and that different ads generate different responses. 

Alice Sylvester: The best job of attribution will address these issues.  Oh and then there is the issue of walled gardens and a significant portion of data from Google and FB not being generally available. 

Charlene Weisler:  How can you ensure that existing models keep up and move beyond digital. 

Alice Sylvester: The marketplace will definitely determine winners and losers – skepticism is creeping in among marketers who have had some experience with attribution.  

Jim Spaeth: There is a huge issue as to how to impute non-digital events on a digital data stream.

Alice Sylvester: There are issues with validation and the veracity of A/B test that have to be addressed in order to increase confidence in attribution.  And there are significant issues in device matching at the household which can be a source of significant error and in data matching across big datasets.  

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