Get Ready for the ARF Annual Conference on March 20th and 21st 2017

The ARF is holding their annual conference next week that will herald not only the arrival of new President and CEO Dr. Scott McDonald, it will also highlight the continuation and enhancement of three major research initiatives on mobile advertising research and the impact of advertising pod context.

New Leadership
According to the press release, Scott McDonald has held senior research positions at Time Inc., Time Warner, and Conde Nast, working closely with all five of The ARF's constituent groups – media, advertisers, agencies, research companies and ad tech. In a meeting with the press this past week, he explained that he comes to the ARF at “a critically important time for the media industry, partly because technological change has introduced at least a doubling of the number of consumer touchpoints available to marketers - many of which don’t involve media at all.  This has fundamentally changed how we think of ‘audience’ and has made the term more ambiguous and confusing than it was 10 years ago.”

He sees the ARF as focused on a range of issues from “methods for message development and understanding the consumer to highly technical problems of cross platform measurement, advertising effectiveness attribution and ways of integrating big data. These technical topics are very wonky but consume us because they remain unresolved problems for the industry.”

We are entering a complicated world where there are many challenges to the ad-supported media business model. He noted, “Going into the Internet of Things, you are going to have more and more marketing opportunities to connect with consumers in conditions that are devoid of media like on the fitbit, driving in your car, etc. The nature of advertising is changing in response to changes in technology and consumer behavior. Getting a clear view of consumer behavior and advertising impact has never been more important, more difficult or more complex.”

ARF Research Initiatives
As the industry gets more complicated, it is a great time for research. The ARF is continuing on some major research initiatives as well as introducing new ground-breaking work from member companies and suppliers. “One of the studies that will be talked about at the annual meeting,” explained McDonald, “is an effort by the ARF Research team, in collaboration with several of the member companies, to try to quantify the value of specific media context.  How is the performance of an ad affected – for better or worse – by its media environment?  How is it affected by the other ads around it?”

Jasper Snyder, EVP Research and Innovation outlined the continuation of three major research initiatives by noting that, “We have studies on creating effective mobile advertising, optimizing mobile research quality through the impact of emojis in mobile surveys and exploring the ROI impact of different types of context effects.” Previous How Advertising Works studies by the ARF have focused on the ROI of cross-platform advertising, and using neuroscience to understand how brands are built in the brain. “These studies not only quantified the impact of cross-platform advertising for the first time but also established, through neuroscience, the ways in which advertisers can optimize creative to take advantage of cross-platform effects," he continued. 

“Biometric and neuroscience measurement has proven that optimizing creative to a specific platform provides a great opportunity to boost ad effectiveness,” noted Dr. Manuel Garcia-Garcia, SVP, Research and Innovation, who added, “The challenge we face now is how to improve mobile ad creative so they are perceives as valuable and non-disruptive by the users.”

“One of the jobs of the ARF is to lead with quality research that is pivotal to the industry,” concluded McDonald, “Not only in providing quality research but also trying to provide conceptual clarity that makes it easier for all participants – media companies, ad agencies, advertisers and research companies - to be clear about where they are operating and which questions are being addressed.”

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The Importance of Saying Yes. Interview with Stephanie Mitchko-Beale

“When I was in high school I excelled in math and science,” noted Stephanie Mitchko-Beale, COO / CTO at Cadent, a leading provider of media, advertising technology and data solutions for the pay-TV industry.  As a high school student, she was encouraged by her father to do anything she wanted, she then decided to follow in his footsteps and study engineering in college. 

“Engineering school was filled with only men and not the easiest place to be for a young woman. But I loved it because I love problem solving, mathematics, decomposing problems into minuscule pieces and then fixing them and building them up. My career has been built on my curious nature and the love of solving problems,” she added. 

Upon graduation Stephanie worked at Marconi Electronics in military systems development and then at Digital Signal Corporation doing electronic warfare for the Department of Defense. But when she was asked to move to Virginia to be closer to clients, she decided to stay in New York and, through a friend, met someone at Cablevision. This led to a 15 year tenure at the company. “I said that I didn’t know anything about cable but decided to go anyway. It was one of my ‘say yes’ moments,” she explained, “Those moments that lead us to places we wouldn't expect and places we wouldn't have arrived at without being open minded, willing and simply raising our hands.”

From there, another ‘say yes’ moment came when through a mutual friend she was introduced to the Board of Directors of Cross MediaWorks, a family of companies that builds media solutions driven by data and technology. What started as a friendly consultation turned into a job offer as CTO for their media services arm, Cadent Network. Today, she leads the technology and operations teams across Cadent Network and Cadent Technology, focusing on the development of cross-platform advertising and data tech.
I sat down with Stephanie and asked her the following questions:

Charlene Weisler: Elaborate a bit more on what you mean by ‘say yes’ moments?

Stephanie Mitchko-Beale: I’ve found, over the years that if you just open yourself up and say ‘yes, I can do this’ or ‘yes, I will take a chance’ or ‘yes, I’ll meet this person’ or ‘yes, I will be the lead on this project’ that doors seem to open up more for you. I think a lot of people, and this is true especially for women, before they say yes to something they want to figure it all out to be sure that they know all the answers. I found that if you just step up and be at the table and say yes to opportunities then it is in your hands to make it work or not. I tried to say yes to every new project that came out and that afforded me the opportunity to keep doing new things. I also say yes to meeting people. If someone takes the time to introduce you to someone else, go and meet them and understand what they are about because those are the connections that eventually lead to great things. By not saying yes you are limiting your opportunities.

Charlene Weisler: Let’s talk about building a diverse team. How do you start? How do you retain talent?

Stephanie Mitchko-Beale: When I was at Cablevision I was very fortunate to be able to hire most of the people who worked in my organization. For me, you start by not accepting the first couple of people you talk to for any position. That is because people tend to hire the same types of people because it is comfortable and easy. You need to build diversity – and I don’t just mean diversity among the people themselves but also in the way people think – diversity in background, formal training, etc. And you have to start by really paying attention to who is on your team and who you want to bring into your team. Every time I talk to somebody, I think about what is different about their philosophy, their technical background, and their experience that brings a different thought processes to the group. By having a team of people who think differently, ideas flow and people tend to see beyond their own lens which makes teams more productive and more capable of seeing the bigger picture. 

It is very competitive and challenging to retain talent in the technology space. And good people know their worth. I believe, in addition to compensating properly, what keeps people engaged is working with a team and management that truly gives them the recognition and visibility they deserve. I also try to talk to my people about the company vision and where the company is going so they are engaged and focused on moving the company forward beyond their day-to-day tasks. And of course you have to feed them. Good snacks are important!

Charlene Weisler: I remember that at Cablevision!

Charlene Weisler: Let’s talk about who inspired you and mentorship in general.

Stephanie Mitchko-Beale: I was fortunate. Both of my parents were very supportive of whatever I wanted to do. I didn’t have any stereotypical limits growing up. Through my career it was not easy being the only woman most of the time. But at Cablevision I had wonderful mentors who helped me move up and take on more opportunities. I call them Champions, not so much mentors. They are people who support you and who are genuinely invested in your success. They are the best people to align with in your company and in your career. 

I do a lot of mentoring through the WICT organization and every year I take on another woman who is either in the cable industry or who is in a supporting industry. Our goal with the program is to try to retain women in the technical jobs because a lot of them leave for various reasons. As a mentor, I feel that it is my job to support and help young women to navigate through their career path and develop strategies. 

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

Stephanie Mitchko-Beale: This is not my favorite question, by the way. I try not to think of balance because when I think of balance (and this is probably my engineering mind coming out) it implies that you have to keep things equal, or if you take from one place you have to make it up somewhere else. So what I usually talk about is how I try to integrate my life with my career. That means things like ‘being present’. So when I am at work, I try not to be distracted by what is going on at home. And when I am at home with my family, I am present there. When you can achieve that, you never feel that you are missing out on something. I also try to keep my priorities straight. I raised my three kids while I was working full-time in executive positions. It is important to make sure that you keep your priorities straight so you can be where you need to be. 

Charlene Weisler: How are you applying your broad experience into your current role at Cadent?

Stephanie Mitchko-Beale: It’s come full circle really. It comes back to math and science, which we look at as data and analytics today. When Cross MediaWorks acquired BlackArrow, now Cadent Technology, I was charged with integrating the technology teams. The foundation for coalescing the teams was built on creating a strong data and analytics group that spanned across both divisions. Presently, that group is breaking ground by leveraging predictive analytics and machine learning for a modern approach to traditional advertising.  

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Solving the TV Data Puzzle With Broadcast

As the media industry continues to expand and evolve, keeping measurement as up-to-date as possible can be a challenge. From fragmented audiences moving across platforms and devices to the plethora of TV data produced by those devices, the question becomes, “What data is most useful, standard-izable and accurate for my purposes?” It is through this question that the strength of television over streaming data becomes clear.

High Expectations
Not only do measurement companies like Nielsen and comScore use standard datasets for measurement—they also offer cross-platform datasets to help stitch together the consumer journey. TV datasets from sources like Facebook, Hulu, Netflix, and Google have valuable measurement potential but are not fully shared externally, and none of them offer a full picture of media use. So while over-the-top (OTT) services remain popular, their data is not easily quantifiable within the broader media ecosystem.

Read the full article on the Videa blog.

PROPHET-izing the World of Data. Interview with Ashley Swartz, CEO of Furious

Ashley Swartz, CEO of Furious, started her career in manufacturing finance in enterprise and supply chain optimization software. But in this world of Iot, she was able to move into the manufacturing or products and mobile phones as a first introduction to mobile content and advertising. “I started my own agency in 2003 and then moved over to consult for the sell side of MVPDS, publishers and technology providers,” she explained, before founding Furious Corp in 2013 and building our platform which we call PROPHET. PROPHET connects and normalizes data from over 40 disparate advertising systems to report, forecast and optimize inventory and revenue across all sales channels and ad formats.

Charlene Weisler: How did you choose the name Furious?

Ashley Swartz: My nickname given to me by Matt Seiler when I worked for him years ago is Red Fury so I decided to name my company Furious. Matt Seiler, was CEO of PHD US when I worked for him and met him and most recently he was CEO and Chairman at Mediabrands.

Charlene Weisler: What MVPDs did you work for and what data did they use at that time on the sell side?

Ashley Swartz: I previously worked for Intel's On Cue platform, and we are currently working with multiple MVPDs today at Furious Corp. The datasets vary based on whether it is linear, linear addressable or digital. It included various 1st party data, set top box data, Nielsen data, Rentrak, 3rd party data including meta data, targeting data, etc. And, IF they had a DMP they might have ACR data (if needed) and or video player data.

Charlene Weisler: Tell me more about how the Furious platform works.

Ashley Swartz:  Furious' platform, PROPHET, is a horizontal platform that connects all the disparate advertising systems for a seller, automating the ingestion and cleansing of data to enable [near] real time reporting across all inventory, revenue (price) and audience for all platforms.  Its primary value as an enterprise system is in using this data to optimize yield at a portfolio level to maximize revenue and efficiency. It is powered by the most advanced state of the art optimization and forecasting algorithms known in the Data Science industry and we enhance them using domain specific knowledge of the media space and client specific data, thus creating best of breed adaptive and robust algorithms which present unprecedented accuracy and reliability. This is what powers PROPHET's forecasting, planning, pricing, allocation and optimization.

Charlene Weisler: Who is your competitive set?

Ashley Swartz: SAP, Freewheel, IBM and Accenture

Charlene Weisler: What other industries do you incorporate and what are their best practices that work in media?

Ashley Swartz: PROPHET leverages lessons learned from other large industries who have used Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software like SAP to connect their business, automate workflow, increase yield and productivity, as well as finance portfolio management tools to manage a mix of assets, optimize and rebalance portfolios over time. PROPHET utilizes methodologies from manufacturing, like Kaizen (continuous improvement) in its business logic using machine learning to power its self-correcting predictive and optimization algorithms.

Charlene Weisler: What is your definition of programmatic?

Ashley Swartz: The use of data or technology to improve the ROI on media.

Charlene Weisler: What do you think the impact of smart TVs will have on TV sales, content and measurement.

Ashley Swartz: In the short term, very little. As the owners of smart TVs begin to be more representative of a population, more valuable. We still have immense privacy issues to overcome to make the data actionable, and OEMS have a long way to go in ensuring the integrity of the data and establishing a realistic perspective on fair market value of the data.

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