Ovation Upfront Showcases The Power of Art

Let me just start out by saying that I am a great fan of Ovation. It is, as Liz Janneman, Executive Vice President, Network Strategy, Ovation, stated, “America’s only arts network,” whose mission is to celebrate both the classical arts and the cutting edge art of tomorrow. 

Ovation Programming
“Art is a powerful three letter word,” Janneman stated, and Ovation programming “celebrates the artist experience through premium content and compelling storytelling.” To that end, the network announced four shows showcasing that mission including the final season of Versailles, the recently premiered espionage series X Company and new series, The Wine Show and crime thriller Riveria. 

X Company, airing Mondays at 10pm is a World War II based espionage series inspired by true events at Camp X, a top secret Allied spy training camp on Lake Ontario. It is the compelling story of five recruits who go behind enemy lines in Europe to help the Allied forces defeat the Nazis. 

Versailles, airing on Saturdays at 10p is now in its sophomore year and will enter its third and final season in October 2018.  George Blagden, who plays King Louis XIV on the program, marveled at the series’ authenticity. The series is partially filmed on the actual grounds at Versailles, “one of the eight wonders of the world,” he noted, “There is no pretending – we are actually in the 350 year old space where ballet was invented and  opera performed.” 

The Wine Show, Wednesdays at 10p, takes a storytelling approach to wine connoisseurship. With wines spanning eleven countries over five continents, wine expert and host Joe Fattorini assured the upfront crowd that anyone can become a wine expert in 90 seconds. “Look for BLIC,” he explained, “that is, Balance – is it fruity or acidic, Length – how long does the taste stay in your mouth, Intensity – of the wine flavor and Complexity –you should note no more than three distinct tastes.” Every bottle of wine tells a great story. 

Riviera, which is “a sensation in the UK,” according to Janneman, debuts February 2019 on Ovation. The program is a crime mystery thriller set in France that follows an art curator who is trying to solve the mystery of her husband’s murder. Her quest devolves into the lurid aspects of art theft and how art can be used for money laundering.  

Multiplatform Targeting to A25-54
Ovation recently launched a new OTT service called Journy that is streamed on Roku and Xumo smart TVs, featuring art, culture and travel programming. While the network continues to target Adults 25-54 with discretionary income and high education, Janneman, also explained that, “With Journy and the platforms that it is displayed on, we are targeting a younger subset of that demographic but still in the same theme of art, culture and travel,” offering the younger cohort an truly immersive experience.

Journy initiatives for 2018 include, according to Elba Flamenco, Ovation’s Senior Director of Content Partnerships, “adding even more programming content and expanding our app to several TV connected devices to increase distribution, ” such as Apple, Amazon and Chrome.

Advocating for the Arts
Ovation is also a strong advocate for the arts with outreach programs. Janneman noted that “We have formed a Stand for the Arts Coalition with more than 30 organizations joining the cause such as Alvin Ailey, American Ballet Theater, National Humanities Center and the American Film Institute. All of these organizations are working together to promote art and art access.” 

This advocacy is moving into the political realm in regards to government funding of the arts. “We have come out against the de-funding of the NEA. We are not a recipient of any NEA funding but we have stated that for every dollar that the NEA spends, $5 comes back to the economy, “she noted, “We believe that when the NEA provides a grant, it is a Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval which then enables that organization to secure more private funding.” 

If the NEA is abolished, Janneman believes that the Stand for the Arts Coalition will get larger and offer organizations an even stronger voice to promote the arts. “Someone has to step up power of art and carry the mantle of arts,” she concluded.  

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GABBCON’s 2018 Audience-Based Buying Conference: It’s All About Inventory

The third-annual Global Audience-Based Buying Conference and Consultancy (GABBCON) Audience-Based Buying Conference, was held recently in New York City. The 2018 conference offered attendees a wealth of information on how marketers and advertisers can adapt to the new environment of diverse datasets, dynamic real-time ad insertion, and the automation of local television.

Here is what’s looming on the horizon.

Identifying Diverse Audiences
In this age of ever-expanding consumer datasets, what is the best method to determine the most impactful consumer for a brand or network? Jason Wertheimer, vice president of media technology at Horizon Media, noted optimistically that our ability to pinpoint audiences is significantly better than it was years ago.

But Wertheimer says it’s hard to keep up: “Data is flying so fast. We need to make sense of it. Technology is advancing faster than we can keep up.” For some, data is not a panacea. According to Beth Mach, chief digital officer at Initiative, “consumers are finicky and change a lot. There is only so much we can attach to data.”

Read the full article on the Videa blog.


The Media Crystal Ball

It is difficult enough to predict how the media landscape will look next year but it is arguably even more difficult projecting how things will look five years hence. A recent Mediapost event gathered some of the best industry minds together to share their thoughts about the state of the media state in 2023. Here is what they predicted:

TV Will Always Be Here
There was optimism regarding the robustness of the TV and the advertising business. According to Tom Goodwin, EVP, Head of Innovation, Zenith, “We tend to think that TV or advertising is dead but it is here to stay.” Further, there was a feeling that even old media has the ability to adapt and reinvent for the new digitized media environment. “The money keeps shifting to online and digital,” stated Brian Hughes, SVP, Audience Intelligence and Strategy, MAGNA. However, he believes that this momentum will slow that down and flatten as “old school media reinvents themselves.”

Delight the Consumer … or Else
Since consumers will have greater power to choose the ads they want to see, those companies that engage people in a negative way may experience blowback. Barry Lowenthal, President, The Media Kitchen, said that, “Facebook will be the big loser’” in the next five years because they fail at the “fundamental human truth” regarding shame about envy. “Facebook peddles in envy. Most feel bad about themselves after seeing Facebook,” he explained, “and you can't sustain a business on envy.”  He predicted that unless Facebook reinvents itself, they will lose money. “It is better to drive to gratitude,” he concluded.

There is also the thought that unless companies respect the consumer by providing them with relevant messaging (without getting creepily intrusive), consumers may decide to opt out and withhold their data and their attention. “Consumers will be in control of their data. GDPR will precipitate that,” noted Natalie Monboit, SVP, Futures for Samsung, Starcom USA, who added, “There will be a shift to drop data when in doubt. Consumers will have more self-sovereignty.”

Streamlined Processes Through Technology
Whether it’s the continuing increase in the amount and type of available data, the introduction of blockchain protocol into the media business, the use of artificial intelligence or the boundaries of privacy, all these issues will impact how we conduct our business five years from now. Monboit noted that, “Blockchain could be the one thing that disrupts today,” and has the potential to change the business.

Finally, it is important for media companies to continue to take risks. Sam Olstein, Global Director Innovation, GE Corporation, concluded that the biggest challenge today is the mindset to avoid more risks. Spending money on things that don’t pan out is “never wasted because it laid the bedrock for the next entrepreneur to benefit from previous mistakes.”

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Tackling the Big Media Industry Issues at GABBCON 2018

Reaching the right consumer is getting much easier and at the same time, far more complicated. At the  GABBCON conference, issues like privacy and the right to be forgotten on the consumer side faced off with fraud, viewability and attribution challenges on the advertiser side. The playing field is not only changing, we may not be able to discern the best path to the goal posts. 

And in the spirit of the time, Gabe Greenberg, CEO and Co-Founder, GABBCON, made a concerted effort to enlist a diverse group of speakers to participate on panels. This resulted in an event that included new perspectives on media issues. Here are some takeaways:

Choosing a Consumer's Tattoo, Shadow or Twin
What is the best way to target a consumer? A panel moderated by Wendy Dunlap, Senior Vice President Digital Investment, Blue449 (previously Optimedia of Publicis Groupe), parsed out the various ways marketers can profile a consumer – whether a Twin, a Shadow or a Tattoo.  
Dunlap explained that a Twin is an individual’s digital representation formed by the aggregation and analysis of their behaviors, preferences and attitudes as expressed in the digital world.  A Shadow is an outline of a real-world identity but is prone to distortion and misrepresentation based on imprecise data signals in providing a complete picture. A Tattoo, as coined by Bethany Mach, Chief Digital Officer of Initiative, is a permanent marker of an individual’s digital activity that doesn’t go away but can continue to morph based on new information.  

“The replica of a real consumer is an amalgam of their various behaviors,” Dunlap noted. “A tattoo is a great metaphor,” she continued, stating that we should track “how it holds up over time and what we add to it” and “how it changes, “as more attributes are added to it or whether it fades away.” 

With Employees, Should it be a Right Brain or Left Brain Hire?
Throughout the day, panelists brought up the challenge of hiring the right people – those with that careful balance of right and left brain capabilities and experiences. And should new hires be from media or outside media? These are no small issues for the industry at a time when there is a need for both creative and analytical solutions and the knowledge of the past and the capabilities of the future.  
Mach stated, “I am looking for new types of people to work for me.  I want a data scientist or engineer.” However, filling media slots with left brain experts may be missing an important ingredient in discerning consumer motivations and behaviors. Shouldn’t we also be hiring anthropologists, Dunlap countered? “It’s good to have an analytical perspective but you also need a social science background,” she added.

Blockchain is Coming. Be Ready. Or Else.
There has been a lot of talk about how Blockchain will impact the Media industry but what exactly is Blockchain? Jonathan Steuer, Chief Research Officer, Omnicom Media Group, defined it, “as an ecosystem. It is a technology method that provides a secure chain of custody for any digital transaction, data, or personal attribute all the way through a system. Where it is where it came from and what aspect of it you can use.”

It was agreed that Blockchain should be embraced and not deferred. Natalie Monboit, Head of Futures at Starcom, warned, “It will hurt you if you are not involved.” She advised to start now by looking ahead and asking, “What is that big disruptive vision? What is the future state?  And then work backwards. You have to be in it in order for it not to hurt you.”

While some may feel that the future application of Blockchain is just another monstrous transformation to upend business as usual, there are those who look on the bright side. Monboit concluded, “Blockchain has potential to solve for fraud and clean up our industry. It unearths everything we understand about engaging consumers. It is a lot bigger than just solving for current issues in ad tech.”

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Letting Consumers Take Control of The Ads They See. An Interview with Joe Mandese.

As consumers take more control of who they allow into their viewing space, advertisers will have to be more cognizant of how their ads are delivered and received. Joe Mandese, Editor-in-Chief of MediaPost, has been working on an initiative called Bid/r which has the potential to change the ad delivery dynamic. 

Charlene Weisler: Over the next three years, what are the greatest changes facing the ad community?

Joe Mandese: Nigel Morris, Chief Strategy and Innovation Officer, Dentsu Aegis Network, when asked the same question a few years ago, said, “The problem is we’ve shifted from an era of information scarcity to one of information ubiquity.” He meant that advertising originally evolved in a world of finite media options -- a handful of newspapers, magazines, TV and radio options -- where big advertisers and agencies had the leverage of their ad budgets to efficiently buy people’s attention. If you had enough money you could buy enough reach and frequency to scale people’s attention.
That started to break down with the explosion of media options in the 1980s and 1990s thanks to multichannel television. Today, literally every single human being on the planet is a media channel. The supply of media options is virtually unlimited. The signal-to-noise ratio between consumers and brands has grown out of whack, and to paraphrase Nigel Morris, we’ve shifted from a time when there was a scarcity of media to one when there’s a scarcity of human attention.

Weisler: What is Bid/r?

Mandese: Bid/r is a marketplace where brands can bid directly for a finite supply of the most valuable consumer attention: attention consumers want to pay to a brand.  Users download a simple app to “list” themselves on an exchange where they receive offers directly from brands. There is a cap on the amount of “inventory” they can trade to five minutes daily, because we want both consumers and brands to understand the scarcity and value of their attention. Consumers are in total control of their trades and brands only pay when the consumer fulfills 100% of the terms of the trade.
Brands can offer anything they want to win the user’s attention: samples, swag, unique experiences, access to media content, even cash and for any action they want the consumer to complete, not just paying attention to an ad, but higher order functions like visiting a brand’s site, downloading information, sampling a product, participating in research, enrolling in a loyalty program, etc.
From a consumer’s perspective, it’s like Tinder for brands. They see a feed of potential brands and swipe left or right depending on which ones they actually want to engage with. From a brand’s point-of-view, they might be looking to have a first date with a consumer or build a long-term, lasting relationship.

Weisler: Can the industry solve for ad blocking? For fraud? For viewability?

Mandese: Of course, but it comes down to defining what the industry means by “ad blocking,” “fraud” and “viewability.” Depending on how you define them, all of those problems have always existed for the advertising industry.

People have always had the ability -- with a few exceptions -- of controlling what ads they see or not. I used to quip that print media like newspapers and magazines were the original digital interactive media. If you saw an ad you didn’t like, you flipped the page. I remember seeing Brian Monahan (formerly at Walmart and now at Pinterest) present data on TV commercial zapping and said, “The biggest threat to our TV commercials is not the DVR, it’s people turning their heads.”

Right now, ad blockers are making it easier to skip ads, but we’re already seeing a new generation of anti-ad-blockers and even more recently a generation of anti-anti-ad-blockers. It’s as if the ad industry has entered into a rapidly escalating arms race with its own consumers.

Same with fraud. We have new jargon like “non-human traffic” or “non-viewable impressions,” but those behaviors always existed and it was just a question of how -- and how much -- they happened, not whether they happened. When I started covering the business, agencies had virtual armies of ad checkers to handle “discrepancy resolutions” for ads they were being charged for that never aired or aired in the wrong way. Those problems have always existed, and if anything, technology has made it easier for brands and agencies to detect them.

There are a number of promising blockchain technologies that will likely help, but it’s all premised on advertisers and agencies defining exactly what they want -- and don’t want -- and communicating it clearly as part of their contracts with the media.

Weisler: What metrics do you think are the most important indicator of a successful ad campaign?

Mandese: It comes down to what a brand and agency are trying to achieve with their ad campaign. It can be multiple things -- exposure, engagement, action, etc. -- but ultimately, they have to focus on one key indicator they use to measure performance.

I’m a big fan of time-spent and duration metrics, not just because it’s what Bid/r is premised on, but because I think it’s the best way to measure if a user was actually engaged with the ad campaign. What that duration should be, is up to different stakeholders -- brands, agencies, media, and yes, even consumers -- to hash out, but I think the time of using simple impressions or exposure-based metrics is over.

I think the Media Rating Council’s (MRC’s) new “digital audience-based measurement standards,” and the fact that they are duration-weighted, is a step in the right direction, because it creates an even playing field for all stakeholders participating in a measurement method that they all agree to. But ultimately, they have to agree about what they’re agreeing to measure.

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Note:  Jack Myers and Charlene Weisler are both investors in Bid/r.  Joe Mandese was the editor of The Myers Report newsletter, the forerunner to MediaVillage.