Advanced Advertising: Content Remains at the Core ... But Data is a (Very) Close Second

How often does one get to go to a sales oriented conference and hear panelists rhapsodize about data? Not in my corporate lifetime as a researcher for a range of television networks. But if you hang around long enough, I guess you see everything come to pass. And so it was at the recent B&C Advanced Advertising conference as part of television week. 

Here are some of my takeaways from the conference:

Data is Out of Research and Into Sales
It is not what all of the panelists said but it was the leitmotif of this and other conferences on media. And that is, Research is there but more and more in the background while Data is being pulled out of the Research function and moved either into siloed departments reporting to the same C-level executive or moved under Sales. What I thought would be a renaissance for Research seems to be turning into a new level of purgatory. Data without Research-applied analytics and Research-derived insights is worthless in my opinion.

Is It Time For a JIG?
This is arguably one of the most controversial and legally risky ideas in our business. But that does not mean that others are not talking about forming an industry wide group to discuss things like standardization, edit rules and metrics. In a common interest group, all would participate so the issues of anti-competitiveness or antitrust should be moot. Linda Yaccarino Chairman, Advertising Sales and Client Partnerships, NBCUniversal fired the first public volley in this battle by asking, “How do we come together as an industry to better measure our product? It has to be more intuitive and we’ve got to get to a place with a uniform currency. The good thing about Nielsen is that it has decades of experience but it is largely self-reported. We need to come together and coalesce as an industry.” Boom.

Standardization of Metrics is Pivotal
Standardization falls along the lines of forming some sort of common interest group to decide, among other things, standard metrics whether for cross platform, advanced advertising or programmatic TV. The standardization and creation of common metrics came up on practically every panel. As Yaccarino explained, “We have to have a common currency and have to measure the efficacy and value of the consumer experience.” When asked what the greatest impediment to the adoption of TV Programmatic was, Brent Gaskamp, SVP Corporate Development N.A. Videology replied, “No standard metrics.” Travis Howe, SVP Client Services and Operations, Invision, noted, “Standardization will be an issue. Measurement will be an issue.” Shereta Williams, President Videa concluded that, “Measurement has to get better, especially cross platform measurement.” But even if we were to all agree, nothing is easy. Frank Foster, SVP GM TiVo Research added a new wrinkle. He explained, “We currently don't have stewardship systems that can handle the new metrics.”

Will Bigger Networks with Higher Ratings Continue to Dominate?
The answer is ‘not necessarily’, but it depends on who you ask.  For Johnathan Bokor, SVP Director of Advanced Media at Mediavest, “In order to get insight into a program or network we need data depth and we are not there yet. We built a system over the past 75 years where big nets and big ratings get the most money. But as you move to an addressable-based paradigm, this type of spending needs to be justified. If your audience is found on the long tail networks, your cost will be cheaper. Large networks will need to prove that they are worth the premium money. We need to look at context of high rated shows. They need to prove that network primetime is worth the premium.” But Lance Neuhauser, CEO of 4C, countered, “The small guys will still have to figure out a way to prove its value.”

In conclusion, the media landscape continues to shift. Definitions of programmatic, advanced advertising and addressable advertising continue to tangent and merge. But some things are eternal:  Make it Easy to Implement and Bring Value Through the Sales Funnel. Marianne Gambelli EVP Chief Investment Officer at Horizon summed it up when she said, “I want research across all media to unlock better value that we can't get our arms around manually.”

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