Data, Data Everywhere in the Upfront. An Overview - Part 2

In our continuing series comparing all of the data initiatives rolling out in our industry, I have asked a range of media executives the same set of questions. Last week, these executives spelled out their data initiatives in two (sometimes very long) sentences.

The initiatives keep coming - more companies, spurred by the publication of last week’s article, contacted me to say that they too are in the data space. Jeff Lucas, Head of Sales at Viacom Media Networks, added his voice to the discussion, saying that “Viacom has listened to clients and has been ahead of the data curve by identifying ways to capture data differently and piloting new ad products several years ago.” For an independent network like Ovation, the jockeying for data positioning is just so much showmanship. Liz Janneman, EVP Ad Sales at Ovation TV, noted that there is “so much data and so much noise and confusion on this entire issue.  Everyone is claiming to have the best!”  

It makes for a lively discussion. This week, in Part Two of the series, we ask the industry whether their data efforts are gaining traction and impacting their business.  

My take is that it may be too early to tell if all of these ambitious data initiatives are making an appreciable impact on revenue. Upfront is just getting started. Time will tell. But the ability of companies to scale and deliver on these promises will be pivotal components in any long term revenue generator. With smaller, independent networks, the lack of resources – money as well as data – could pose a challenge for future growth should the industry embrace these big data driven solutions.

Question 2: Is your company's data initiative gaining traction in the industry? How is it impacting your business?

David Poltrack (Chief Research Officer, CBS Corporation and President of CBS VISION): Yes, since we announced the initiative in March our CPA offering has gotten a considerable amount of traction. Our preliminary conversations with clients focus on what we are able to do, the accountability we are able to provide, and the tools we will employ to measure the results. While this is NOT part of our upfront negotiations – for interested clients it can certainly be a part of the broader conversation.

Jo Ann Ross (President, CBS Network Sales): Our CPA initiative has garnered significant traction. That said, we have not yet formally launched our cross-platform data management solution. We expect to have options available to advertisers over the next few months that will likely be part of the 2015-2016 season. To date, our data initiatives have been complimentary to our business as we expect the vast majority of TV buying and selling to be transacted on demos for the current upfront.

Mike Rosen (Executive Vice President, Advertising Sales, NBCU): We are bringing ATP into the market for the first time as part of the 15-16 upfront marketplace, and the client reaction across broad categories has been tremendous. Advertisers have embraced the fact that we are bringing them the targeting that they are accustomed to in digital, and employing that level to linear television for the first time ever at massive scale.

Beth Rockwood (Senior Vice President, Market Resources, Discovery Communications):  In the past year we have gained experience in managing behavioral targets in addition to our traditional targets.  Recently, we have seen increased interest from advertisers to improve targeting and optimize the impact of their schedules.  Advertisers are interested in the data as well as in our insights about the connections between our viewers and their brands and how that connection can be leveraged towards ROI.

Howard Shimmel (Chief Research Officer, Turner Broadcasting): We have been executing and learning from our next generation ad capabilities for a couple of years, introducing some of our ad products during last year’s upfront. The initial work involved vetting many of the various data providers. The next stage involved working with Ad Sales to co-create the products we’ve taken to market.  We also worked closely with our Data Science team to build CAE (Competitive Audience Estimator), a system that allows us to forecast audiences for specific advertiser targets that we’re using to drive our targeting products.

Liz Janneman (EVP Ad Sales, Ovation TV): For a deal where we are creating custom content or seamless integration into an original episode, Ovation partners with the advertiser to measure ad recall, purchase intent and likelihood of sharing that positive experience with friends and family.  That advertiser can also add a few other metrics to measure or ask questions to better grasp impact of brand experience or brand integration.  We've conducted many of these studies across a wide category of advertisers and now have sufficient benchmarks to measure against other advertisers in the category or other programs on any other channel.     
Paul Haddad (SVP and General Manager Advanced Data Analytics, Cablevision Media Sales): Since introducing census-level audience tuning data, we have seen a record number of campaigns, specifically with our programmers and automotive clients who are using our insights and data to deliver targeted promotions and advertising to households.  Within the industry we are collaborating with multiple players including ESPN and Time Warner Cable – bringing together two leading first-party data sets and providing advertisers unprecedented granularity and robust intelligence about the unique value of the impression.

Elizabeth Herbst-Brady, EVP Ad Sales Strategy, Viacom: Our data initiative, Viacom Vantage, is an innovative predictive ad product that pioneers a new approach to matching advertisers with their custom targets, while offering more choice, more flexibility, and increased accountability. We piloted a beta version of Viacom Vantage more than a year ago with five partners, and the results exceeded expectations. Client feedback has been very positive and we expect to do more Viacom Vantage deals this year because its customization and precise targeting is unique in the marketplace.

Geri Wang (President ABC Sales, ABC): Our initiatives continue to attract significant and growing client interest.  After a successful operational trial last year of our reserved digital programmatic offering, we’ve increased our investment in data, expanded our digital offering, and introduced a linear TV solution.  Clients and agencies are very engaged – they recognize these are the early days of data, and that partner oriented development and innovation is critical.  But most importantly, they are excited to work with us to bring the power of data to the premium tier of the video marketplace.

Tom Ziangus (SVP Research and Insights, AMC Networks): I believe we are exposing our data abilities to agency & advertisers, but as is the case with all industry efforts with data driven sales & buying, everyone has their own “black box”/”secret sauce” so it makes it difficult to impact the overall marketplace.  Internally this initiative is creating time efficiencies that are leading our smartest research folks to shift the balance of their time to more insights to drive our business.

Hanna Gryncwajg (SVP Sales, RLTV): With all of these data announcements I am concerned about the ability of independent long tail cable networks to compete in the market. It is likely that these smaller networks would have financial limitations as well as limited access to data and are therefore at a disadvantage in showcasing the uniqueness and value of their audiences. The hyperbole behind all of these data-oriented announcements could negatively impact our business.

Part 3, to be published next week, asks the question - Is your company's data initiative scalable and if so, how?

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