There has been a coup d’etat in media. Where Content used to be King, it has now been deposed and replaced by what Eric Shenk, Technical Director, Office of the CTO, Google Cloud Media noted at the recent TV Data Summit - “Audience is King.”
Why have audiences taken over the prime consideration in media? Part of the answer is the primacy of data in the consumer journey. With access to first, second and third party datasets, marketers and programmers can more easily and efficiently parse who is motivated, who is engaged and who is ready to transact. But how can we know which datasets are relevant, what might be missing and how to best analyze the results?
Here are some takeaways from the TV Data Summit:
The Impact of Data
The availability of data has led to a seismic philosophical change in the media pipeline. The focus used to be on delivering audiences to advertisers. But now, with audiences more in control of their viewing choices, companies need to consider what triggers their choice and attention.
For Radha Subramanyam, Chief Research and Analytics Officer, CBS, her company’s world class global content, brand championship in a safe environment with a passion for innovation is all tied together with cutting edge analytics supported by data. In looking at the ad marketplace today, she noted that data can be used by targeting demographics to gain mass reach and brand awareness, from data enabled TV to target optimization and in addressable for one to one messaging.
For Shenk, “Data is everything,” touching all aspects of the media business. But, currently, it is highly fragmented, residing in silos within companies and behind walled gardens with frenemy companies. As best as one can, data needs to be collected, transformed, analyzed, visualized and then the best decisions must be made from the insights.
Consumers Are in Charge
Larry Allen, Vice President Ad Innovation and Programmatic, Turner, noted the shift in focus from the client to the consumer. “TV is under siege,” he warned, and said that while advertising strives to make the experience better for the client, “what if it is alienating the consumer?” We need to “put them front and center.”
He explained that the current ad model is not working because there is too much frequency, not enough relevancy and too mass. “Really long ads can work depending what you are trying to achieve,” he noted and added, “We have new customer engagement metrics to improve our understanding of what is happening. We want to put ads in front of people that make sense. So they don't avoid them.” To that end, Turner embarked on consumer journey research to find out what builds affinity for content. Turner identified consumer content needs and the path they took to make decisions. “This can make things more contextually relevant in real time,” he stated, “and it can be leveraged. But it is hard to scale today and it is a long term horizon project.”
The Challenge of Measurement
The wide possibilities that data brings to the media business is offset by some of the challenges it creates. “Measurement to business outcomes has been challenging,” admitted Julie DeTraglia, Head of Research, Hulu. Tracking content across screens, calculating co-viewing on shared platforms and establishing an industry standard cross platform measurement are all worthy goals that require a joint industry effort between companies that often compete.
CIMM, now part of the ARF, has been focused on establishing a universal content labeling code to ads and programming. This initiative is beginning to gain traction. Jane Clarke, Managing Director and CEO, CIMM noted that there is, “a lot of support for data but sometimes data produces different results because there is no national dataset. We need to understand what is under the hood.”
Initiatives like OpenAP have enabled frenemy companies to work together to bind datasets together to segment audiences for sales. For Haile Owusu, Senior Vice President, Analytics, Decisions and Data Sciences at Turner, the focus is on algorithmic output. “We forecast bulk audience flows and the ability to probe intra-show behavior, identifying components of the content for additional churn,” he explained. He is also working on the blending of linear and digital consumption by coupling Iinear TV viewing with viewing on devices and to messaging on the app.
Data and analytics, fueled by machine learning and artificial intelligence, will make the media business more efficient and targeted. If frenemy companies can work together, the opportunities offered by data will multiply and the challenges it presents will be subtracted. The TV Data Summit has put all of the innovative approaches out there. Now is the time for the industry to move forward.
This article first appeared in www.MediaVillage.com