Putting Data at the Center of the Media Business. Interview with TiVo’s Walt Horstman

In this expanding media environment, there are increasing pressures on legacy media systems to keep pace with the change. Requirements include the faster infusion of new and ever larger data sets, quality algorithms and the need for advanced flexible interfaces. Walt Horstman, SVP/GM Analytics and Advertising at TiVo, is committed to keeping his company on the forefront of all of these industry changes and shared his views with Media Village in this latest interview:

Charlene Weisler: Walt, how do you view the current state of agency TV/Video Audience Optimizations programs and systems?

Walt Horstman: A key challenge both the agency and the sell-side systems face is bringing all the disparate current and future media platforms together.  I believe this will be addressed through an organizing principle around data.  We’ll build from a common foundation of data and then move out from there to the various workflows and applications of the data for different respective media platforms.  In many respects, putting the data at the center to solve this challenge also puts the consumer at the center and ultimately creates an improved consumer experience with marketing.

Weisler: How do you see this evolving over the next 24-36 months to incorporate cross-platform data?

Horstman: This evolution has already begun and I believe we’ll see partnerships develop over the next few years across systems that have expertise in each of the media platforms.  For example, at TiVo, we have great expertise in advanced data predictions and optimization systems for TV.  We’ll partner with others who have expertise in mobile or OTT.   It is unrealistic that a single unifying cross-platform optimization application will emerge, so best-in-class systems will partner.  The connectivity will be around deterministically-matched data.

Weisler: Do you think that the agency systems will be able to adapt to the future?

Horstman: Yes, if we think of agency systems within the context of enterprise-wide software systems, they will evolve to become vast stores of data, upon which algorithms act on the data and then connect inbound and outbound through standard APIs.  Historically, we’ve had large end-end monolithic systems and those  systems that are successful will move to discreet, connected modules that serve a unique function such as audience predictions or media optimization or KPI attribution and optimization.  But the agency systems are no different from other enterprise-wide software applications – it is a state of continuous evolving.

Weisler: Do they need to be completely rebuilt from scratch?

Horstman: No, it’s ongoing evolution.  And the tech debt never really goes away, although the eternal optimist in me keeps hoping that tech debt will be gone just as soon as we round the next corner.
Weisler: Is there the client demand to make the required investments?

Horstman: The demand absolutely there for better marketing effectiveness across a vast and complex media ecosystem today.   So we can’t look at this as a question of how do we justify the continuing investment in agency and sell-side systems as only a cost-center.  We have to frame this as an important means for agencies to deliver a higher ROI for their clients on their media investments.  

This article first appeared in www.MediaVillage.com

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