New Scripps Research Study Proves That Environment Matters. An Interview with Chris Ryan, SVP Research

There’s “news” about the “reality” of viewers and ads: It’s that for engagement, Lifestyle programming outperforms everything from Sports to News and Reality to General Entertainment. A study from Scripps Networks conducted in partnership with Nielsen utilized both attitudinal and neuroscience methodologies to better understand the power of programming environments on viewers. The results were more a confirmation than a surprise to Chris Ryan, Senior Vice President of Ad Sales Research and Strategy for Scripps Networks Interactive, except perhaps the degree to which Lifestyle programming drives ad engagement. 

In fact, commercials running in a lifestyle programming environment scored +22% higher among all viewers across interest in products, attention to brands, intent to seek information and purchase intent. And, brand favorability across all categories measured - auto, consumer packaged goods, food and home, home improvement, finance, restaurants, retail and travel was greater in Scripps Lifestyle as well. This level of engagement was confirmed through the neuroscience section of the study using biometrics.  The amount of time participants were highly engaged with ads on Scripps Lifestyle was 94% greater than the average of the four other genres.  Dr. Carl Marci, Chief Neuroscientist, Nielsen Consumer Neuroscience said, “While good ad creative generates a strong emotional connection with the audience, this study suggests that ads may gain an additional benefit in the context of lifestyle programming.”    

I had the opportunity to discuss these findings with Ryan to gather more insights behind the study and how Scripps plans to apply them.

Charlene Weisler: What was the philosophy behind this study? What were you seeking to prove?

Chris Ryan: Scripps Networks has always known there's a strong connection between our content and ads, so we wanted to prove that where an ad is placed is as important as to who sees it, maybe even more so. That concept drove the vision for this comprehensive study to prove that, as we like to say, “Environment Matters.” We needed to understand and quantify whether the same ads across the largest ad categories are perceived differently in the lifestyle environment compared with other major TV genre environments. And, it was great to see that findings from the attitudinal research were confirmed by participants’ biometric responses in a separate part of the study conducted by Nielsen’s neuroscience group.

Charlene Weisler: What is it about lifestyle programs that are so engaging?

Chris Ryan: Our audiences are the most receptive in all of television viewing because our programming provides a trusted and engaging atmosphere for families. Our suite of brands provides an optimistic environment where consumers act on the messages – they see themselves as active participants. To our viewers, the ads are an extension of the shows they’re watching – those ads also serve up ideas and inspiration, just like our programs. 

Charlene Weisler: And what benefit does this engagement provide for advertisers?
Chris Ryan: If you only buy audience, you run the chance that your ads may air in a place where people don’t engage with the messaging. How people engage when they’re watching ads on our networks is the key to success for Scripps and for our advertisers. In fact, brands are more likely to be seen as high quality, trusted, reliable, and credible within the lifestyle programming environment. For advertisers, putting your message in front of an open and engaged audience makes too much business sense to ignore. 

Charlene Weisler: Does this have a cross platform impact? On your content? On advertising? How?

Chris Ryan: Because we’re brands first, not just TV networks or websites, the audience experience is equally engaging across our TV, digital and print properties. Everywhere our audience shows up, they are served ideas, information and inspiration within an environment that’s safe and trusted.  

Charlene Weisler: How are you using the results on your networks in decision-making?

Chris Ryan: Now that we have these results, we plan to work with our clients to develop better ROI metrics around engagement from findings in this study, as well as to discuss the importance of lifestyle as a media strategy, regardless of the advertising sector. It’s important for clients and potential clients to understand that ads in lifestyle programming produce the highest engagement, attention and purchase intent levels among all top TV genres. 

Charlene Weisler: Are some advertising categories especially successful in your environment? 

Chris Ryan: I think one of the most exciting findings of the study was that our environment didn’t just perform well among traditional endemic ad categories, but across all ad categories tested. The Scripps lifestyle environment went 8-for-8, having the largest impact on brand favorability, across all categories covering auto, home, finance, food, home improvement, restaurant, retail and travel. Those ad categories represent nearly 6 out of every 10 ad dollars spent on cable. 

Charlene Weisler: What are your next steps?

Chris Ryan: We want to do more work proving the importance of engagement and environment, especially in the ever-changing media landscape. While the quality of the audience is key, and as consumers migrate fluidly across their video content choices, demonstrating our benefits and effectiveness at the platform-level becomes increasingly important.

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comScore Announces Cross Platform Measurement Advancements

For those of us who have been in the research sector of the media business for a number of years, there is nothing as heady or as exciting as what is happening now in our field of expertise. As Gian Fulgoni, Co-Founder and CEO, comScore noted at their recent industry meeting, “There is a digital revolution the likes of which we have never seen.” And this revolution is creating measurement innovation, not only in the data driven audience marketplace but also in cross platform measurement solutions. 

comScore has recently announced an advanced version of their cross platform measurement capability which could spell the end of age and gender proxy measurement… eventually. (We all know that the media business takes time to adjust to new metrics and protocols.) But the excitement engendered by the introduction of various datasets and their application to measuring viewer and consumer behavior is beginning to mark a distinctive change in the rate of new measurement metric acceptance.

According to Fulgoni, comScore is focusing on the need to be nimble in order to meet all technological changes. Their approach to cross platform measurement includes four pillars:

       1.       Granularity for precise measurement in cross platform and also by individual platform.
       2.       Understanding the unduplicated reach across platforms.
       3.       Buying and selling TV on advanced audiences, beyond age and gender.
       4.       Moving towards an addressable and advanced TV future.  

In a world of panels and census data, do you start with a panel and build out or do you amass census level data and model demographics? comScore’s approach is data scale first then the creation of a unified panel and census metrics. “We believe that scale drives quality,” stated Fulgoni, “You can’t start with a panel and build up on it.” Scale becomes important when measurement must include an expanse of devices; comScore’s Total Home Panel is built to measure content across  mobile, network-connected set top boxes, streaming OTT, PC, home theater, game consoles  and Iot including such devices as wearables, smart speakers and audio systems etc  for unduplicated reach.

These advancements in cross platform measurement could not come too soon for Julie DeTraglia, VP Ad Sales Research, Hulu, Ed Gaffney, Managing Partner, GroupM and Beth Rockwood, VP Portfolio Research, Turner. As DeTraglia explained, “Hulu lives in a world where we have all of the benefits of television and that is television content on a television screen. We have some challenges in measurement that we are working on. But we have all of the benefits of digital. If you want to see what the future of television looks like, look at Hulu today. We sell platform agnostic and are also looking at how ads differ by platform.“ 

Attaining true, unduplicated cross platform measurement is not an easy task. “There is a long list of must haves which makes it hard to do (cross platform measurement) well,” stated Rockwood. “Certainly the quality of the measurement and the scale of the measurement are critical if we really want to be able to get a good view both of consumer behavior and campaign effectiveness. Also understanding how consumers are receiving information in a series and unpacking all of that to understand consumer journeys,” she added. “It’s quality, coverage and scale, in no particular order. We need all three to get a good view of what is going on out there,” Gaffney concluded.

Having a third party measurement that is privacy compliant and can also measure the full range of devices for specific audience targets will enable both buyers and sellers to realize the full potential of their brands. But it will all depend on whether the industry is ready to break with the marketplace measurement metric tradition. “The currency is still age and sex and will be for the near term,” admitted Gaffney. But based on the measurement developments from companies such as comScore, maybe the future is closer than we think.

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How Third-Party Data Strengthens Ad Campaigns

As old methodologies give way to data-driven and performance-based metrics, third-party data is pushing the world of TV measurement over the threshold of an immense change. This shift goes beyond audience-based targeting technology to the measurement of actual performance. In fact, Alan Cohen, president and CEO at Quigley-Simpson, sees performance measurement as the “new programmatic.”

Start with the Consumer
Local TV advertising has historically been challenged by multiple constraints. First, a measurement system composed of three methodologies: people meters, household meters, and paper diaries. Second, a measurement period consigned to month-long “sweeps” taking place four times a year. And finally, sample sizes that—in the case of smaller markets—often fell below demographic and household minimum samples. But technological improvements and the availability of third-party data sets allow local advertisers to overcome these limitations.

Read the full article on the Videa blog.


Using ACR to Demonstrate TV’s Power. An Interview with Ashish Chordia, Alphonso

Ashish Chordia, Founder and CEO, Alphonso, is a serial entrepreneur who also is a great supporter of start-ups and mentorship. His current company was launched four years ago by eight founders from Bell Labs and VideoSurf (recently acquired by Microsoft) who have deep backgrounds in the automatic content recognition (ACR) space.  

Using ACR technology will help facilitate seamless cross platform measurement and further demonstrate the value of TV content across platforms and devices by verifying audience delivery. Focusing on TV, Alphonso, according to Chordia, “collects real-time TV viewership data on a second by second basis for TV ads and shows being watched for live TV, DVR and OTT content.” 

Charlene Weisler: Tell me more about Alphonso.

Ashish Chordia: Alphonso is the market leader in providing verified TV audiences. We deliver one-on-one TV audiences on mobile and web, at scale and across premium apps and sites. Through our partnerships with Smart TVs, living room devices and mobile apps we understand what people are watching on TV and in real-time deliver this audience on mobile apps and websites. Currently, our technology is being used by a majority of Fortune 100 brands to run TV targeted digital campaigns and get granular closed loop attribution on TV spend. 

Charlene Weisler: So are you competing with Nielsen on some level?

Ashish Chordia: Alphonso does not directly compete with Nielsen as we do not have a ratings product. Nielsen has had a panel based measurement approach for decades and they provide currency in the form of ratings. Without ratings networks, agencies and advertisers won't have a common basis to transact on. Nielsen is an enabler that way. We are not focused on creating a currency or rating system. Instead, we focus on delivering digital quality insights on TV campaigns. We enable granular and sophisticated measurement for closed loop attribution for TV spend by mapping real-time TV viewership to off-line data sets. 

For example, for a large retailer, we can tell what is the impact of TV spend to drive people to retail or to drive purchase of certain items in store. We enable this measurement across many verticals such as auto, retail, telco, insurance, financial services, QSRs etc. 

Charlene Weisler: How are you connecting the data from all of the different platforms?

Ashish Chordia: The key data set that we collect is anonymous digital IDs, such as IDFAs/AdId, that enable us to map real-time TV viewership from various devices to other data sets both third party and the brand’s own CRM data sets.  

Charlene Weisler: What metrics do you use to measure cross platform?

Ashish Chordia: Alphonso measures impact of TV and TV + Digital by evaluating three main metrics a) engagement across platforms both TV and Digital b) lift in brand metric measured independently with one of the large research companies across both TV and Digital and c) measure of impact of TV and TV + Digital both with off-line data sets such as location data, credit card purchase, policy bind, car sales etc. 

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Multiple System Operators Bridge the Gap to Local Ads

Marketers adjusting to changes in consumer behavior must get closer to the consumers themselves. A recent Forrester report said as much, and Caroline Horner, co-founder of advertising agency Spicy Tequila, points out how this shift is driving a new advertising framework: “Local is the new national.” And when it comes to local marketing, multiple system operators (MSOs) can help.

MSOs include cable operators like Comcast and Cox, and are a type of multichannel video-programming distributor (MVPD), like large telecommunication companies. MSOs are provided local advertising minutes by their broadcast and cable affiliates as part of their operator agreements. This time is parceled out to local and regional sales teams, as well as to third parties like programmatic exchanges and advanced television reps. The advertising time offered by the MSOs is comparatively short—often only two minutes per hour—so maximizing value is vital to accelerating this business.

The Growth in Data
The ability to measure local data has improved greatly as STB data has merged with other data sets—such as Nielsen and first-party—and segmentations. “Programmatic TV is about data first,” says Rick Ducey, managing director at BIA/Kelsey, and it tends to lead to the local.
Read the full article on the Videa blog.