James Fennessy started his career in sales at News Corporation in both Australia and Asia before launching his own sales consultancy that worked with leading multinational companies across Asia Pacific. His move to SMI in 2011 was fortuitous. He explains, “I found myself in the SMI business following a hard to resist invitation from the founder and CEO of the business, my wife, Sue Fennessy. We made the move from Sydney to New York just under five years ago.”
In this interview, Fennessy talks about SMI data and how it is used to help in integrated sales and marketing and how the television market is changing with the impact of digital. He also looks ahead to see how the media environment will change in the next three to five years.
CW: Tell me about your current company and the job you do there.
JF: I am SMI’s Chief Commercial Officer and I have two key areas of focus. The first is responsibility for our agency partner relationships at a holding group level. The second is to work with our teams in local markets to successful commercialize our data through an integrated sales and marketing strategy that drives uptake from media owners, the finance community and brands. We have a terrific team that helps me execute and my job is to get people the tools they need to deliver outstanding results for our clients wherever they are in the world.
CW: Please describe your company's data offerings that are in use in the television sector. Please include whether you own your own data and/or aggregate datasets.
JF: SMI aggregates data from the world’s leading media buying groups. We structure and harmonize data for them in 22 global markets and our product is the aggregated view of ad spending in each of these markets. SMI delivers a real view of the health of the media sector and pinpoints exactly where advertising spend is flowing every month by sector and media owner. SMI’s proprietary data collection
methodology captures more than 80% of total agency spend, offering timely, unparalleled visibility
into market dynamics. This data is highly accurate as it comes directly from the booking systems of the agencies and so is much more valuable than current services that rely on rate card or estimates. It is released on the 15th day of each month for the previous month and covers every media outlet an agency books spend with. This includes television, digital, print, radio and out of home. Our television data is broken out at the network level and we now have great visibility into video and can see how the major networks are successfully monetizing their content on their new digital platforms.
CW: What is the ad spend trend for traditional television.
JF: Traditional TV is definitely under pressure from digital media and a measurement system that cannot keep up with the changes in viewer behavior. SMI’s data shows that national television has dropped by 4% this broadcast year but this has started to turn around in recent months and, alongside this development, video is really growing rapidly. We think that too much spend shifted out of TV too quickly and this has started to come back as brands realize what a unique and powerful medium TV is.
CW: Do you see traditional television eroding against digital?
JF: There is no doubt that changing consumer behavior will result in a vastly different ecosystem in the coming years, but it is important to remember that content is still king and the leading broadcast and cable networks have better content than anyone. We are seeing eyeballs shift but many of these will be onto the digital properties created by today’s leading networks. Video spend is through the roof and a lot of this is going to those traditional media owners who are successfully making this transition.
CW: Does your company have an overall data initiative to market and integrate your data into television analytics? If so what is it?
JF: SMI’s data is frequently combined with other data sets to create compelling insights that can help media owners and agencies do a really effective job of justifying their recommendations to advertisers. Clients are combining SMI data with ratings data and brand level occurrences to draw far more accurate insights than are available today through existing services.
CW: What types of clients use your data? Please include specific clients if that is allowable under your agreement with them.
JF: We are providing media owners and the finance community with a real and timely data set that delivers complete transparency on the total ad market. Our clients include many of the largest media owners in the country who want fast, actual data that helps them track share and growth, identify potential targets and get a better understanding of pricing. We are also the only place that you get all linear and nonlinear media in one consolidated view. SMI’s finance clients invest heavily in the media sector and need better data on advertising revenue.
CW: What are your data attributes for use in television? What can your data do?
JF: Our TV data is at network, daypart, advertiser category level and can be broken out by upfront and scatter. Our clients can obtain further insights by looking at program types such as sports, entertainment and news. They are able to monitor real-time competitive performance to maximize revenue opportunities. In the media sector, we are working with both the buy and sell side to create far more accurate tools that are fed by real cost data, enabling much better planning and justification for a greater share of a client’s ad dollars.
CW: What are some of the challenges you see in the television measurement world today? How can these challenges be solved?
JF: The biggest and most obvious challenge that we see is the 35 to 40% of TV audiences that aren’t measured by traditional services. We get 100% of ad spend from our agency partners but if our clients cannot match this up accurately against audiences then benchmarking and optimization become very difficult. Another challenge is that there is also a lot of digital spend going through networks and exchanges and these dollars are currently hard to track. Working with the middle men and getting access to their data will provide everyone in the ecosystem with higher quality data that will help advertisers and agencies make better decisions that lead to better consumer engagement and improved financial outcomes.
CW: What do you see as the future potential for your data to be used in creating a standardize-able measurement for the industry?
JF: Accurate spend level data is the cornerstone of so many tools being built today by both buyers and sellers of advertising. Without it, the tools just don’t work and campaigns cannot be properly measured and spend can’t be justified. Our goal is to become the leading global source for real and timely advertising expenditure data which will enable our agency partners and media clients to move higher up the value chain and assist them in delivering outstanding outcomes for their clients.
This article first appeared in www.MediaBizBloggers.com