Oath Drives Insights into both the Consumer and the Advertiser

Better data-driven audience research is enabling deeper insights into consumer motivations, behaviors and actions for brands. 

A good example is what Oath is accomplishing through its premium video content and experiences, creating better understanding of the trends driving video consumption and growth across new formats. This valuable information can then be used to drive a brand’s strategy. “We know that successful brands grow by anticipating the needs of consumers in a constantly changing marketplace”, noted Maya Abinakad, Senior Marketing Manager, Oath. “The market landscape is evolving at a pace unlike anything we’ve seen before,” she added, “especially in the areas of AR, VR and 360, for example.”

As marketers try to keep up, the question on the minds of many industry leaders is: Do you have your finger on the pulse of the consumer? Are your current investments in an under-appreciated consumer technology well placed for future success or destined for a flop? Brands need to understand consumer expectations and the threshold for advertising or risk wasting valuable dollars and development time. Parsing the opportunities and pitfalls is the direction that AOL Video research is taking with their latest State of Video Industry online study in partnership with InsightsNow.

Abinakad believes that the best research uncovers the human motivations that drive consumer behavior, maybe even revealing results that upend the established order. “When you don’t question established order, it can lead to short-term results,” she stated. “Company leaders may believe and invest in something that may not be of great interest to consumers. This research is pivotal to keeping up (and ahead of) quickly changing consumer trends to maximize business opportunities and plan for the future,” she added.

The study focused on consumers age 16+ and B2B constituents, including industry buyers (agencies and brands) and sellers (publishers, ad networks and ad tech providers). The results revealed macro trends in the video ecosystem and where attitudes between consumers and companies merged and diverged. But Oath’s main purpose in this study is to deeply understand how and why consumers are engaging with video online and the importance of acting on insights as part of one’s video strategies, especially given how quickly the industry is evolving.

Here are the major takeaways:
      1.       Digital video investments show no signs of slowing down. B2B trends indicate greater spending on video which is increasing exponentially. 83% of buyers are expecting to increase their video spending this year.  
      2.       Dollars are coming out of television. This investment is coming out of Broadcast/Cable TV budgets and into predominantly desktop (72%) and mobile video (71%) platforms.
      3.       Social (50%) and quality creative (46%) are driving video’s growth.
      4.       But 44% of advertisers say measurement is still a big challenge, a +14% increase from last year.
      5.       Consumers want VR, 360 video and AR, especially younger consumers. Across all age groups, consumers are drawn to live videos as advertisers are increasingly investing in 360 Video.
      6.       Mobile video is driving much of digital video’s growth as 67% of all consumers watch videos on their phones everyday with 74% watching live video.   
      7.       Offering greater competition to linear networks, news, music and sports content dominate live video consumption.
      8.       VR is poised to become as common as mobile video among consumers for all types of programming such as movies, virtual tourism, science and shopping. But hardware constraints are currently seen as a barrier to fuller roll-out.
      9.       Consumers expect video advertising but the “right” length of the ad is important and it varies. Of course, who doesn’t prefer shorter ads, but the findings here indicate that expectations vary according to the length of the ad. The longer the video, the longer the expected ad. But the ad must be relevant and with some control still maintained by the viewer such as skipping and fast forward.
     10.   Programmatic spending will continue to rise, but both buyers and sellers are concerned about system integration and the ability to access premium inventory.
     11.   Branded video spend has reached its peak. Although branded video is still a revenue driver, the spend is slightly declining because of measurement challenges and cost.

Oath’s collection of more than global media and technology brands ranges from AOL and Yahoo to  HuffPost and TechCrunch. Their redoubled focus is on delivering content and ads across mobile platforms so research necessarily plays a big role in this effort. Understanding the accelerating trends in media and placing efforts in those trends are essential for their future success as well as their advertisers. 

Since their mission is to “build brands that people love,” noted Abinakad, “And, marketers are focused on delivering the highest consumer experience possible, then having and offering relevant, insightful research results will help Oath reach that goal. All of our products and services are designed to allow brands to build their brands, and allow agencies to do the same for client brands.”  

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Automated TV Buying Trends: An Interview With Strategist Mitch Oscar

Mitch Oscar has been in the advertising business for over 40 years, having worked at Universal McCann, Carat, and Havas MPG. He is currently the advanced TV strategist at U.S. International Media (USIM).

However, Oscar is perhaps best known for his work forming think tanks—such as the Collaborative Alliance and Secret Society—which have focused on automated TV buying trends like big data, audience-based advertising, programmatic, and advanced TV. “We meet to share ideas. We’re probably one of the last democratic institutions left in the United States,” Oscar deadpans.
“There’s a lot of competition by sector, whether addressable of local programmatic, over-the-top groups, data companies, even mixture companies,” Oscar says. “It’s a crowded playing field.” As a result, agencies are having a tough time.

“When I first started in 1975, there was a 15 percent commission...

Read the full article on the Videa blog.

LEAP Ramps Up to Enable Instant Buys via LiveRamp

In a move designed to make advertisers and brands more enthusiastic about audience buying, LEAP Media Investments has created a partnership with people-based audience clearing house LiveRamp.  LEAP's patented process helps marketers identify and activate audiences who are deeply and emotionally connected with specific brands. The partnership, which includes LiveRamp modeling and scaling partner Tru-Signal, means marketers can easily and quickly buy and reach audiences at scale who are hyper-engaged with a brand.

"Now marketers and agencies just have to go to one platform to find and select audiences made up of their most engaged and emotionally attached consumers from over 100 different platforms -- digital online to social to TV," explained LEAP Founder and CEO Gary Reisman.  "This is no small feat!"
He shared more with me in a recent conversation.

Charlene Weisler:  Why is the addition of LEAP so important to marketers and advertisers?

Gary Reisman:  LiveRamp is a platform that provides easy onboarding and distribution of audiences for a variety of companies in the market.  It's essentially a clearing house for audiences.  Companies provide their audiences to LiveRamp which then provides the technological platform to transfer those audiences to many distribution partners which marketers and/or agencies can use to target those audiences.  The addition of LEAP makes our audiences easily available on any of these platforms in real-time.

Weisler:  How does it work?

Reisman:  First we measure consumers' emotional attachment for 400 brands.  We've identified the most enthusiastic fans through what we call "potential conquests" to the less loyal "expansions."  In our partnership, we delivered our two most desirable seed audiences to LiveRamp which then worked with its partner Tru-Signal to model and scale.  The result was that Tru-Signal developed a customized, high-fidelity scaling of each "enthusiasts" and "conquests" audience -- both very large groups that consist of between 6 million to 20-plus million targetable impressions depending on the brand and audience ("enthusiasts" vs. "conquests").

LiveRamp then integrated these scaled audiences in their buying platform.  Marketers and agencies can now tap into the platform through a website, look for our audiences and, with a quick click, send them to their preferred distribution partner (DMP/DSP, etc.).  So let's say GroupM has an upcoming campaign for Jaguar and wants to target Jaguar LEAP "enthusiasts" audiences: They can get the scaled audiences immediately and transfer that audience to their trading desk to use in their media purchasing decisions.  LiveRamp's distribution platform connects to rich media supply partners where the marketer can target the LEAP Jaguar "enthusiasts" within that supply with their advertising.

Weisler:  So, the LiveRamp platform adds faster, easier access to LEAP audiences?

Reisman:  Yes, exactly.  Basically, through the click of a mouse.  Want to target Pepsi "enthusiasts" on AOL?  Go for it!  Want to target those audiences on Adobe, The Trade Desk, Videology, etc.?  Now it's much easier to do -- like buying media.  Any publisher or ad tech platform that wants to sell LEAP audiences on their platform can easily download our audiences into their platform.  Think of these distributor platforms in the same way that a cable network would use the cable operators to distribute their networks.  LEAP's audiences can now be widely and easily distributed and used for targeting.  Our highly emotionally attached audiences are available for over 400 brands across 25 categories, including Auto, Tech, Telecom, Gaming, Travel, QSR, Casual Dining, Beverages, Snacks, Banking, Finance, Credit Cards, Retail, Home Improvement, Cosmetics and OTC Healthcare.
I believe success comes to those who understand just who their most engaged, emotionally connected audiences are.  Think of it … how do you really evaluate media before you buy it?  You want to buy media that you believe contains more people more likely to engage with and act on your ad messaging.  LEAP audiences provide a direct line to serve ads directly to the highest potential consumers.  The LiveRamp partnership adds the ability to target those prospects across any platform.

This is why we're so excited: Together we're really helping marketers and advertisers better align their strategic planning efforts in their DMPs and better identify and buy their most enthusiastic consumers at scale.

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1stFive Experience: The Wisdom of Youth and Senior Executive Advice

In an industry as exciting and as dynamic as ours, the question of the development of tomorrow's leaders becomes vitally important. What can we do to encourage and train the next generation of media executives? Helping to address that issue is Media's bold initiative called 1st Five, which recently held its fourth annual Summer Intern Experience at Horizon Media. The Experience collected all of the summer interns who worked in a range of media companies this summer to a meeting designed to offer advice, further encourage their interest, and elicit their feedback.
This year's event was the first to capture a majority of Generation Z participants who grew up with the internet. "You are in my opinion, the most singularly important generation in history because you are the generation that is on the cusp of one of the most important significant shifts in our culture, our society, our business, our civilization," noted Jack Myers, Founder of, "and we can learn a lot from you."

Executives from host companies Turner and Horizon, as well as Viacom, 4A's, and Meredith, participated on panels and spoke directly to the interns about their experiences. In one of the break-out sessions, Howard Shimmel, Chief Research Officer, Turner, spoke to a large group of interns on the value of data and a career in Research. "It's a great field and it's a growing field." He explained that as Gen-Z disrupts the media business with their new and different viewing patterns and technologies, it is Research that is trying to understand the disruption. Putting it all into context, he explained that "We are in a world where there is more data than ever. If you use Siri there is data. If you use Alexa there is data. Your phone knows where you are now. The people who win are the people who actually understand what that data is and what that data means, and what you do with that."

In turning to the interns, Shimmel found that they were excited about all the uses of data and how it could be applied to creative and advertising. Olivia, who interned at the Ad Council, found that it was "interesting to see how data and research were used to target PSAs and its evaluation on the backend with the data collected to ensure that the PSAs were hitting their specific target." Shimmel agreed and added that the increase in digitization in television is "enabling advertisers to do a better job of reaching people they care about and not reaching people they don't care about" with ability to capitalize ROI by better targeting. "The future of TV is addressable," stated Shimmel.

Not all internships are successful. One intern noted that while she was interning at a fashion firm, the company went out of business. Another felt uncomfortable in a company's culture which did not embrace his values and made him feel like an outsider. Shimmel advised students to choose their future employers as carefully as they themselves will be chosen: "You spend so much time at work that you want the company you work for to be a good match and a place where you can voice your opinion and be heard," he said.

When an intern finds the perfect company with a compatible culture and responsibilities that excite and interest them, it can become a launching pad to a long and successful career. Taylor, who interned at Nickelodeon, was excited about learning about SVOD and "how television tackles the digital competition," finding it "inspiring."

As much as the interns need a job, the media industry needs them. We need the fresh perspectives of Generation Z because TV is in a quandary according to Shimmel. Viewing patterns are changing and challenging the established business model. "How many of you watch on demand? Watch TV when you want to watch?" he asked. Most hands went up. "That is exactly the challenge we are dealing with," he concluded.

Privacy is not as big a concern to the interns as one might think, because the addressability of the ads appears to be welcome. "As for me," described on intern, "I hate to be watching a show and have ads come on that I/m not interested in and that don't relate to my life. I want to get ads that I actually use and can see what's out there."

The next step for these interns is to network, build on their contacts and hone their skills in the area of media that most excites them. Many gems of advice were offered. "Go into a job and evaluate what you like and dislike. If it doesn't work out you can figure out exactly what makes you unhappy," Shimmel noted. An intern suggested to "use your contacts. I always thought that my work speaks for itself but I realize that you need to reach out and ask for help." In a parting word of advice, Donna Speciale (pictured above with Howard), President, Turner Ad Sales, concluded, "Open yourself up to what is going on and don't have fear. Be strong in your convictions. Be confident. There are no rules so don't be afraid."

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The Linear TV Model Will Change. Interview with Greg DePalma

Greg DePalma, newly named Head of Revenue, IPSOS Affluent and Influencer Database, has a career steeped in research, data and analytics. “I started in New York with my first seven years at Nielsen working in the National NTI TV ratings group supporting network, agency, and advertiser clients,” he shared. 

He also worked at TiVo planning and measuring consumer response to advertising with time shifting and device shifting and on the media agency side with “nearly every media consumption and purchase behavior data company to inform campaign planning/targeting, activation and measurement.” This primes him for the current media ecosystem which increasingly relies on an ever increasing number of datasets and questions about how to best leverage them. 

As the world of research and data evolves, DePalma has some interesting thoughts on data, the future of television and measurement: 

Charlene Weisler: What do you see as the biggest challenges to TV measurement currently?

Greg DePalma: The proliferation via time shifting, device shifting and platform shifting create a spider web of measurement problems.   The technology on the back end to serve and measure program audiences and commercial ad views is not unified – clients say they want advanced data targeting and measurement, but agencies are paid on demo CPMs.  How do you measure a new data driven brand campaign that is 10% of a particular network buy, which is 10% of your overall spend?    There is no way you can parse out and report on 1% of a brand campaign.   

Charlene Weisler: Do you think the linear TV sales model will be here five years from now? Why or why not?

Greg DePalma: The networks will try to hold on to upfront premium inventory trading as long as they can. But consumer behavior will move faster than the networks can hold on to the current linear TV sales model.  Anecdotally I see it with my tweens at home.   Try asking kids, “if you could have one TV option would you chose Netflix, Disney, or HBO?” the answer is Netflix 90% of the time.    Now ask millennials a similar question.   It is especially discouraging to see only pharma ads on Network TV evening news.   Local stations historically made a huge percentage of their profits from news.  Who is watching local news now?   The ad dollars follow the eyeballs and sooner than later, the linear TV sales model will change to mirror digital trading.  

Charlene Weisler: How has the role of data in media changed since you first started?  

Greg DePalma: Data has transformed the media marketplace in terms of transactions, talent and strategy.    We see programs replacing people and data replacing insights. You really need to dive under the hood.  The black box research and attribution models have to be completely examined.  I’ve seen media companies report on their “ROI” and attribute sales with a model that applied a 25:1 weight for their own ad exposure impact.  I was fortunate to work on a team that challenged the media company to open up their attribution formula and provide the correct recommendation to our client.  

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Trends Revealed at the Cynopsis Data and Measurement Conference

For those of us navigating the brave new world of media, the data rushing into the market has been met with both exhilaration and, let’s face it, a bit of dread. What datasets are most predictive and valuable? How can a company best manage all of its data and connect it seamlessly across platforms? What metrics are most useful and capable? 

The recent Cynopsis Data and Measurement Conference offered some insights into these questions, showcasing trends in media data from its impact, its measurement, its use by advertisers and its targeting applications. Here are some takeaways:

Lazy Data Confounds the Path to Purchase
Lazy data is misleading data, according to Mike Rosen, Executive Vice President Portfolio Sales and Strategy, NBCU. Lazy data is essentially those datasets that are not efficiently and accurately attributed back to the sale or are not adequately counting the value of certain consumer groups. “Data in the service of marketing and media is a very human endeavor,” he explained, “We can use data to understand human behaviors.”

But as a Baby Boomer, Rosen believes that his spending patterns are not given the credit they deserve. He does not have a social footprint but he spends on a variety of goods and services from shopping at a range of online and offline stores, using credit cards, “I own two cars, I have insurance policies, I travel, own loyalty cards and spend on entertainment. I throw off lots of data but because of lazy data, they can't find me.” Advertisers are “targeting demos like Millennials and Gen X. I am a Boomer. I am out.” Advertisers consider older consumers acceptable waste, reached anyway. “If you market to me do I not shop?” he intoned, “I am a human consumer with a high credit rating. You can't seem to find me.”

The root causes of lazy data, according to Rosen, are:
       1.       Sticking with age and gender categorizations which don’t count valuable consumers.
       2.       Buying by network and not by program, diluting the ability to efficiently reach target viewers.
       3.       Equivalizing platforms. Platforms have different viewing experiences and different levels of engagement.
       4.       Correlation Causation. “We so badly want to relate things to each other but it could just be coincidence. I live in Westport. I love Greek yoghurt … but not because I live in Westport,” he stated.

Without an attribution model, the problem of lazy data will not go away, “It is never quite that simple to determine the path of purchase,” Rosen concluded, “The messaging route by platform each carries a different role in purchasing.”

Unified Measurement Pessimism
Let’s face it, finding a unified measurement that works well across platforms is not an easy task. In fact, according to a questionnaire floated by Cynopsis before the conference, 60% of all respondents believe that we will never attain unified measurement. This is a staggeringly high percentage of pessimists.

George Ivie, Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer, Media Ratings Council, is writing the viewability standard. He asked his panel, “What metrics matter? Which are the most relevant? Why are we rushing to try and equalize metrics? Shouldn’t we focus on value and let them be different?” There was general agreement here. According to Manu Singh, Group Vice President Commercial Insights and Digital, Discovery, “not all impressions are created equal.” Brian West, Director, Multiplatform Research, ABC added that he is, “focusing on the full life cycle of measurement by setting requirements in place, implementing measurements, validating them and using them to drive insights,” implying the creation of many metrics. “Inventory is the goal to measurement,” noted Ed Davis, Chief Product Officer, Fox. “What delivers attention to the brand - how much and how long?”
There is no ideal. It all depends on the campaign goals. There may be multiple ad formats that, in my opinion, make standardization difficult. So it may come to pass that there is never going to be a unified measurement across platforms. But according to some industry executives, we may not need one.

Measurement Surprises
Taking unified measurement one step further is the idea that technology advancements are creating unintended considerations that are bubbling up in measurement discussion. For example: In a world where media companies can disable fast forward … or not … how do you measure forced versus organic viewing durations comparably? Ivie discussed duration weighting and developing metrics that demonstrate how platforms and content perform differently. Singh noted that, “We want to standardize those metrics. We support duration weighting.” The MRC is also tackling deduplication, focusing a great deal of attention on its methodology. “When it comes to unduplicated reach, there is still work for us to do as an industry,” noted West.

The measurement wish list is long. Singh would like, “all interactions of consumers to funnel into one repository,” and to also, “take into account qualitative data.” While West added, “It's not a one size fits all. We work consultatively with our clients. What is the ROI? What is the impact on brand? We make some form of compromise. Data is device based when we want persons based, for example. We need to advance on that.”

Jamie Power, Chief Operating Officer, one2one Media may have summed it up by saying, “When it comes to multichannel measurement, it is easier to find audiences but harder to measure them.” With all of these great minds pondering the measurement universe, maybe we can convince the pessimistic 60% that some form of standard measurement (or measurements) might indeed be possible one day.

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