Oct 15, 2021

The Powerful State of Audio in the New Normal

There has never been a better time for audio, especially integrated audio that incorporates over-the-air radio, digital audio and podcasts. Audacy has just released their State of Audio e-book that details integrated audio's power to track, reach and engage consumers that is backed up by advanced and cutting-edge research and data.

According to the book, Audio has the capacity to, "stir emotions like no other medium." It goes on to explain that "via podcasts, sports, news or music, the auditory-neuro sensory embrace draws us in, makes us feel --really feel! -- and drives us to action. Personal audio (the kind we enjoy alone through our earbuds, smart speakers and talkable tech) is a bigger part of our daily lives than ever before."

The result is increased usage by listeners and increased ad spend by advertisers.

The New Normal

The pandemic has changed the way consumers use media, leading to a new normal and boon for audio. According to the research, there was substantial year-to-year growth in listening at home (+44%), via smart speakers (+43%) and via podcasts (+26%). At the same time, screen fatigue became a stress factor as both work and school locked consumers in front of their various screens. Audio with its mobile fluidity offers consumers the opportunity to de-stress, "and, even briefly, shut out the outside world … Audio just puts us in a good mood," the e-book notes.

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The research and data bears this out. When compared to screens, audio listeners pay more attention, spending more time with audio than social media (+60%), broadcast TV (+54%), cable TV (+49%) and video streaming (+42%).

"In a world where screen time has reached a new and sometimes uncomfortable peak, it's the ears, not the eyes that have always connected most deeply," explained J.D. Crowley, Chief Digital Officer, Audacy. "It's the ears that are generating the most excitement and energy in media today."

The Opportunity for Advertisers

At the core of audio's benefits for advertisers are trust and immersion. The State of Audio guide explains that "Audiences trust the messages they hear from the voices they know. Host endorsements, whether live reads or as part of an ad, drive listeners to buy. A lot." Immersion is a blend of attention and emotional connection. Audio delivers on this behavior with the highest immersion index of any media -- whether AVOD, digital video, linear TV or social media.

Perhaps the most profound and valuable aspect of audio for advertisers is its ability to be accessed anywhere and at any time from a range of sources. Whether cleaning the house, walking the dog, driving the car or shopping, audio is everywhere. The study revealed a resurgence of radio listening in the home, facilitated by the new and growing technology of smart speakers, Bluetooth speakers and wireless headphones that makes it far more mobile than ever before.

The Audio Trifecta

The research revealed that all three audio platforms deliver for advertisers. The overall strength of broadcast radio (which commands an audience at least twice the size of pure-play services), along with the impressive growth of podcasting, especially among younger listeners (83% of whom say their favorite podcasters feel like friends), as well as innovative digital audio (which offers customized experiences), has engendered greater enthusiasm for audio content and, by extension, advertising messages.

Advertisers can take advantage of these attributes in a variety of ways. "Brands are embracing the speaker-as-touchpoint phenomenon, adding voice-triggered ads to their audio campaigns. That paves the way for some amazing new opportunities with shoppable audio interactions."

In addition, advertisers can access the power of audio influencers who can deeply engage their listeners. Audio campaigns have been proven to increase lift in sales conversions (+68%), lift in web visitation (+44%) and lift in in-store visitations (+45%).

Getting Started in Audio

While the opportunity is there for advertisers across audio platforms, it is equally important to have compelling creative and optimized audience targeting. According to the e-book, creative needs to drive recall, intent, engagement and emotional response -- and ad placement needs to occur at the right moment, in the right content for the right audience.

To that end, Audacy offers insights into producing the most compelling creative and accessing over 16,000 attributes to profile listeners and create custom audience segments for advertisers. It also offers a range of measurement opportunities including trackable pixel-based measurement. And depending on the KPI, Audacy offers measurement on foot traffic, brick-and-mortar visits with geofencing, web conversion, sales conversion, brand lift, app downloads and ad-to-app conversions and downloads in near real-time.


Audacy's e-book offers a step-by-step guide that provides insight into the power and value of each audio platform, the most impactful way to develop and launch the ad message, and the best ways to measure campaign impact through first party data.

Ken Lagana, Audacy's EVP, Digital Sales and Strategy, believes "Audio is the most engaging impression you can buy in media. Period. People are more receptive to receiving a message from someone they know and someone they trust. Only Audio can build these kinds of relationships."

DOWNLOAD the complete State of Audio guide.


Oct 8, 2021

The State of Viewership – the Latest Effectv Research Report

The past 18 months have seen dramatic shifts in media usage as evidenced by the latest TV Viewership Report, which examines the first half of 2021 versus one year ago. We appear to be entering a new era where viewership behaviors continue to be shaped by a range of tumultuous events, and as a result, as the report revealed, "Live viewing grew as a percentage of total time spent with TV. Shifting restrictions on travel and public gatherings likely contribute to both the continuing strength of live TV and shifts in where that content gets consumed." As in previous studies, the data used in this analysis is from first-party anonymized, aggregated viewership data collected within the Comcast footprint of some 17 million U.S. households. Click here to download the 1H 2021 report.

Among the key findings from the latest study:

  • TV Reigns Supreme. The TV screen is still the preferred choice of device for viewers.

"We've seen content consumption patterns ebb and flow over the last few years of recorded data. What we have consistently found is that audiences largely have a desire to watch premium video programing on the largest screen available, despite the amount of choice in terms of devices and apps available to stream content." -- John Brauer, Vice President, Insights & Analytics, Effectv

  • Streaming Is Important. In fact, according to the aggregated ad exposure data, 76% of streaming consumption is happening on the big screen and can be considered the perfect complement to a TV advertising campaign because of the hard-to-reach audience it attracts. The study revealed that streaming impressions are +209% more likely to be viewed by light or no-TV viewing HHs.
  • Interested inComcast Advertising InSites
  • Cable Is the Top Choice. Overall, Comcast households are spending on average 6 hours and 2 minutes with TV daily while cable TV's share of TV viewing remains strong at 70% compared to broadcast and premium.
  • TV Keeps It Live. Interestingly, the study also found that 88% of all TV viewing happened live throughout the first half of 2021, slightly higher than the same time period last year.
  • More Dayparts and More Networks. In terms of dayparts, about 70% of live viewing occurred outside of primetime. The top five networks accounted for only 31% of all viewing in 1H 2021. Overall, Comcast households watched an average of 30 different networks during this period, with 304 different networks achieving "most-watched" status.

"Simply put, when you have more networks in your campaign, you get higher reach among your target audience. Campaigns that are spread across 20 or more networks are optimal and just as the 'top networks' in my household are likely Bravo, HGTV and DIY network, another household's may be completely different. As a result, there are more than 300 'most-watched' networks across measured households." -- Heather Coghill, Senior Director, Audience Insights, Effectv.

Year-to-Year Comparisons

As the nation becomes vaccinated and people yearn to return to a form of normal, it's not surprising that time spent viewing television naturally would decline. The data supports this, as 1H 2021 had the first year-over-year declines in time spent viewing since data recording began. These declines began in March 2021 and can be attributed to comparisons to 2020 when stay-at-home orders were in place. Interestingly, with viewing still over six hours a day on average, the share of live viewing remains strong and continues to lead against time-shifted viewing throughout the day.

Cable TV continued to command the majority percentage of viewing, increasing its dominance from last year. In 1H 2021, the share of viewing for cable networks gained from 67% share in 1H 2020 to 70% share in 1H 2021 and 71% in 2Q 2021.

Platform Usage Differs by Genre

Consumers also view content differently depending on the platform. Traditional TV is favored for live genres like sports and news, while streaming is favored for young adult, family and entertainment.

However, streaming delivers hard to reach audiences such as cord-cutters and light TV viewers, enabling advertisers to leverage the best of both worlds. In examining more than 20,000 Effectv advertising campaigns in 1H 2021 that included both traditional TV and streaming, it was found that streaming serves as a strong complement to any traditional TV campaign. Notably, more than half (57%) of Effectv streaming reach was incremental to the TV portion of the campaign.


Performance also varied by market. "What this means for advertisers," the report noted, "is that households watch in different ways in different markets. Investment allocation decisions about traditional TV and streaming must weigh multiple factors including viewing habits, audience segments and geography."


With each successive viewership report, it is becoming clear that while viewership patterns have shifted and will continue to evolve, there are highly strategic ways that advertisers can use television in all of it various forms. Audiences are in charge and are taking advantage of all the available choices of platforms and devices so they can watch what they want, where and how they want to watch it.

"The latest TV Viewership Report demonstrates linear TV's ability to reach audiences effectively and efficiently, but it also reinforces the need for advertisers and marketers to utilize streaming to expand reach incrementally." -- John Brauer

Click here to download the 1H 2021 report.


This article first appeared in www.MediaVillage.com


Oct 7, 2021

Is There a Future for Media Measurement Currency? The Industry Weighs In.

The issue of cross media measurement currency (and by currency I mean a standard metric that can be used as a comparison point between companies and platforms) has been a hotly debated discussion for a while. Now, with the ever expanding access of various data points and the de-accreditation of Nielsen’s local and national TV measurement services, the pressure to come to terms with the state of measurement has never been more pronounced.

In surveying the industry, there are many differing opinions on the future of measurement currency and what it should be. Many agree that some generally accepted metrics and methodology is table stakes. Yet, even beyond that general opinion, there are many divergent views.

When I posed this issue to Research Wonks, a forum for people who work in media and advertising research, analytics and data science, the response was immediate, well considered and over whelming.

Media Currency Agreement - Optimists versus Pessimists

“Currency removes friction in the market … until it’s at odds with what the market needs to function smoothly,” explained Stephen DeMarco, Head of Business Development at Tubular Labs. “Adults 35 and younger spend more time watching social video content than they do linear TV.”

For Aaron Fetters, Head of Client Development at Truthset, the ability to craft a currency in the current media ecosystem is close to impossible. “There is no solution for true cross-platform measurement,” he admitted. “Fifty years ago, the idea that it makes more sense for one independent, neutral party to count and define audiences was understandable. There was one dominant form of media at the time, television. It was not so difficult to apply a single methodology and process to the collection and interpretation of data across all major media owners.”  Now, with media fragmentation across platforms and devices, “the effort to produce numbers which somewhat realistically report the total unique reach (and frequency of exposure) of either an ad campaign or a piece of content and they all come up short for a variety of reasons, largely out of the control of the measurement providers,” he noted.

Arguably the most pessimistic is Chris Squire, SVP Head of Data, Samba. “The outdated, legacy currency measurement barely scratches the surface of advertiser needs via proxy metrics that fall short of measuring the business outcomes that are instrumental to campaign ROI. As the industry approaches a critical inflection point to rethink how advertisers transact with each other, we are excited at the prospect of multiple currencies based on these business outcomes for true ROI insight.”

Media Currency Solutions – Considerations

The ever increasing opportunities to push content across platforms can lead to new and highly creative measurement adaptations while at the same time, pose further challenges.

 “There's a massive move from counting delivery in the form of GRPs to measuring outcomes, whether that's advertising's ability to grow brands, drive engagement or sales,” explained Anne Hunter, VP, Product Marketing, DISQO, because of fragmentation, speed of consumer change and direct to consumer as well as one-to-one marketing efforts.

For Senior Insights Consultant, Laura Chaibi, the ability to form closed loop selling can make the discussion of a currency irrelevant. “In other parts of the world, it is almost problematic when the publisher is also the bank in places like China. They see how much money you have, how you spend it and what you can afford. This is the ultimate closed loops selling – do you need a currency in this market?” she posited and added, “Amazon seem closer to full end to end closed loop selling more than any other platform / publisher (if you can call them that) in the USA that is selling media.”

Setting priorities in measurement solution is the view of Daniel Slotwiner, VP, Measurement, Insights and PMM, Gopuff. He would like to, “See more of a discussion about explicitly measuring ads versus content. I think both need to be measured, for sure, but for trading purposes I think it's time we leave content aside and focus on measuring ads (with some meta data about the context in which/on which they are viewed).”  


In my opinion, some form of standard, generally accepted baseline metric is important for comparison purposes across properties, but just like any wildly divergent industry of competing self -interests, to get all interested parties in agreement is probably a pipe dream. Should we keep the traditional status quo of Nielsen, despite its limitations? Do we migrate to a Comscore with its own set of limitations? Or do we venture into new parameters with another company, TBD? Perhaps a consortium of industry organizations can form a special committee to address measurement standards to either strengthen the current or form a new standard protocol.

For Jane Clarke, Managing Director, CIMM, “There doesn’t have to be one solution for a new currency, because different marketers have different needs and will use different datasets.  We just need common standards to verify ad exposures across media.  Those who provide ad exposure data need to be willing to have that data audited and accredited.” 

As a closing but important added consideration, Ben Tatta, President of Standard Media Index concluded, “It wasn't long ago when there was no debate regarding the currency or any viable alternative for measuring TV.  I suggest that we bifurcate, "measurement" from "currency."   Even if it takes time to transition to a more unified impressions-based currency that doesn't mean we can't change the basis by which we measure performance and outcomes.”        

Let the conversation continue….

This article first appeared in the Hocus Focus Newletter.



Oct 5, 2021

Measurement in an Age of Data and Fragmentation

Obviously cross platform measurement in all of its forms is a hot topic now as the de-accreditation of Nielsen’s local and national TV measurement services by the MRC along with a highly fragmented media environment creates uncertainty and challenge.

I was curious as to what the industry as a whole was thinking on the subject and reached out to the Research Wonks, a forum for those involved in media and advertising research, analytics and data science, last week. The response was so large that it required two articles on the subject – one appearing in this publication and the other in Mitch Oscar’s Hocus Focus newsletter.

Measurement Currency – Looking Back and Looking Forward

When they say that the past is prologue, they must be thinking of media measurement. We’ve had a measurement currency (and by currency I mean a standard metric that can be used as a comparison point between companies and platforms) since the beginning of media which has helped guide the valuation of inventory to this day. But as the industry fragments, it can leave us with a sense of uncertainty as the new solutions that best address the new environment have yet to be agreed upon.

For Jeff Boehme, Chief Executive, Executive Media Consultants, the future of measurement is as fragmented as the number of platforms. "I have observed over the past ten years the industry has evolved to create and accept multiple currencies for media planning and buying out of necessity,” he noted and added, “Going forward, successful media executions now must include metrics of performance beyond age and gender to measure outcomes defined outside traditional frameworks. I believe we will continue to embrace multiple currencies, already available through various walled gardens, but need transparency and audited standards to provide the necessary confidence for longer term use.”

Howard Shimmel, President, Janus Insights and Analysis, is concerned that we can easily go off track by focusing on the past while the future looms large. “I worry that we're distracted trying to solve for 2012 research needs- fixing linear TV currency measurement- when what we really need to be focused on is a future state integrated planning/activation/measurement research infrastructure to incorporates all video channels- linear, addressable linear, AVOD, CTV,” he warned. “Building that infrastructure is hard- requires panels, first party data from walled gardens, common target audience definitions across platform, ability to integrate RF forecasts for linear and addressable media, segmentation schema that reflects the way that media is consumed,” he added.

Media Currency – Getting to a Strong Place

There are those optimists, like Radha Subramanyam, President and Chief Research and Analytics Officer, CBS, who are ready for the measurement challenge. “The media measurement industry is ripe for real market transformation,” she informed, “There are now multiple providers of trusted and high-quality data measurement across video platforms, and our own data is critical as well. The measurement marketplace is undergoing massive diversification.”

Yet, the path to currency is still open to discussion. For Michael Vinson, Chief Research Officer, Comscore, the primacy of long standing panels that the industry has relied upon in the past may be up for discussion. “Recruited-sample panels can either be used as the foundational element of a measurement, or to add additional context to a measurement based on large transactional data sets,” he began. But, “When panel response/participation/cooperation rates are in the 10 to 20% range, we can no longer pretend that the panel is in any sense representative of the population. Moreover, media fragmentation puts severe pressure on the size of a panel, beyond what can be plausibly afforded. Therefore, panels should only be used to add context to currency measurements, which should instead be based on large-scale, passively-collected data sets.”

It stands to reason that the best way to formulate industry adoption of a media measurement currency is to gather interested experts together as a working group. Whether this is a consortium of industry organizations such as the MRC or something patterned along the lines of a European JIC, is up for discussion. As Andrew Brown of Andrew Brown Associates, noted, “All vendors no matter how good their data will need 3rd party verification. All players will need third party syndicated solutions to put their 1st party data in competitive context.”

This article first appeared in www.Mediapost.com


Sep 25, 2021

Predicting the Future of TV without Cookies. A Discussion with a4’s Natalia Irmin

We are facing an industry measurement change with the upcoming retirement of the cookie. While not always the optimal way of data gathering, we as an industry have come to rely on it. But this change need not be a challenge according to a4’s Director of Data and Strategy, Natalia Irmin. 

In fact, a cookieless future is going to looking pretty good. “Cookies are not something that's always existed. It feels like they always existed, but actually hasn't. We still measured before cookies were available and those practices will be coming back,” she explained.

Embracing a Cookieless Future

For Irmin, there are lots of options for measuring without cookies. “First, you still have your first party data which gives you a lot of flexibility,” she noted. And there are new technological breakthroughs that weren’t even imagined when cookies were first introduced. “How do I use artificial intelligence,” she posited, “How do I use data science to create the models that are going to inform what I need to do with my advertising? That is something that a lot of companies are thinking about and coming up with solutions.” But, she noted, “Not the entire universe is deterministic. It depends on the the breadth of your operations. You might have to deal with data that's not necessarily one to one. If you want to keep doing that, you’ll have to think about working with models that focus on incremental reach beyond TV.”

Data from cookies for Irmin falls into two buckets – targeting and measurement. “I think targeting is less of a challenge,” she stated and added, “The measurement portion, how are you going to measure, is more challenging.

Grappling with Walled Gardens

Walled gardens present another ongoing challenge for measurement. But Irmin remains generally optimistic about the industry’s ability to work with walled garden companies. “What I'm finding,” she began, “Is that recently there's been more talk about collaboration and moving beyond those walled gardens.” And yet, she averred, “While we find it useful to collaborate with other companies, we still recognize that the walled garden still exists and some of them, depending on their size, are still useful to work with. You are not going to stop working with some walled gardens,” just because they don't allow you to access certain data.

Being Pro-Active in Industry Changes

Getting ahead of industry changes and evolving into new solutions is pivotal for companies who want to develop the best, most accurate and sophisticated solution to industry changes concerning data. Google, after all, gave the industry a year to adjust before it retires the cookie. Procrastination, however, is not recommended. “From our perspective at a4, we keep exploring all the solutions that come up in the marketplace and start testing,” early in the time frame. “The adjustment period seems like the more correct way to go, because you don't want to wake up one day and be like, ‘Oh I just don't have a solution for this, because I had that extra year and I completely forgot about it and was focusing on other stuff and now I have nothing.’ Definitely don’t do that,” she warned.

Contextual Targeting

For a4, the future, and even the present, rests on contextual targeting. “We are more focused on targeting for measurement and have developed our own internal solutions that include both first party data and modeling,” she explained, “For targeting you’ve got to start thinking more seriously about contextual. With cookies, contextual was always viewed as something that's less good, less accurate, perhaps. But in reality, contextual actually provides you with ability to control your brand safety and it means that you're actually going to those places where your audience is.”

The value of contextual marketing cannot be under-estimated. “You can target certain inventory and nothing else. When you work within the DSP, for example, you have a source of inventory. You then take IPs that you've determined are associated with certain households and a footprint you want to target. Then you layer on top of that inventory specific behavioral targets, people who visit certain related websites. Then measure your campaign after the fact, and make adjustments. Using IPs and measuring contextually allows you to find the audience that you're looking for,” she said.

Collaboration and Team Effort is Vital

Perhaps the most important aspect of navigating through industry change is collaboration and team effort. “It comes down to the people that you get to work with within your organization and with people in other organizations. Because we work with so many different partners, you can really see the difference between working with a company that has people that care or not. One of the best things about working at a4 is working with the people and the teams. I see how hard these teams work to provide to provide a solution and provide answers to all these questions and challenges that that our clients are facing and be able to tell them ‘Don't worry.’ We’ve got you. We know how to help you. We know what you're dealing with and we're working diligently to maintain and expand our offering to give you something extra to help you face those challenges,” she concluded.

This article first appeared in www.MediaVillage.com

Sep 19, 2021

Strategy in the Age of Earthquakes

The old saying, “May you live in interesting times,” holds special resonance today. Over the past 18 months we have experienced many “interesting” cultural shifts from a global pandemic that impacted how we work, study and play to a reckoning around social justice to a rise in global authoritarianism and even a Capitol insurrection. The relevant question for us is - How do all of these events impact our industry?

Kofi Amoo-Gottfried, Vice President of Marketing at DoorDash and The Martin Agency’s Chief Strategy Officer Elizabeth Paul sat down for a virtual fireside chat at the recent 4As Stratfest to discern our future as they delved into our past.

Sometimes, like in New Zealand in 1931, an earthquake of high magnitude can change the topography of the land to such a degree that new maps have to be drawn post-quake. “It is a story that we find ourselves in today,” Paul began, “We are in the midst of a cultural earthquake… In many ways it is an age of earthquakes and I believe that strategists, as students and shapers of culture, we have a unique role to play in what comes next. ” To that end, Paul and Amoo-Gottfriend discussed the three fault lines for agencies and marketers going forward.

Fault Line #1 - Fixed Versus Fluid

Taking the earthquake analogy one step further, Paul outlined three fault lines in our industry. “The first tension or fault line is Fixed versus Fluid,” she explained, requiring a decision of what to hold onto and what to change.  For Amoo-Gottfried, it is a careful consideration path. “When you look at businesses over time, in the midst of chaotic change, it’s really hard to figure out the things that you want to hold onto. The things that don’t change – your Northstar, your purpose as a business, why you exist and what problem you are trying to solve for people - that part of it won’t change but the ‘how’ of it will change,” he explained. It is vital to be clear about your purpose. “The playbooks over the past 18 months have changed. We had to pivot … A map is not as useful in an earthquake but a compass helps,” he noted. And clarity of mission is vital.

Fault Line #2 - Selling versus Serving

“The second fault line is Selling versus Serving,” stated Paul who added, “A lot of marketers now, because of the pressures that everyone is feeling to make sales in a shifting economy are shifting their sales down funnel to optimize conversion.” Amoo-Gottfried responded that his company, Doordash, looks at tensions not as impediments but as ways to work through a process to a company’s advantage. 

“My philosophy is that Brands matter only insofar that they solve problems for people. Ultimately, our job is to figure out what people need and how do we show up to meet that need and how do we serve that need. And if we do that consistently, the bottom line always, inevitably, takes care of itself,” he noted. These needs have changed over the past 18 months and continue to evolve. The challenge is to keep up with these changing needs and respond effectively.

Fault Line #3 – Speed Versus Craft

Paul’s third fault line, Speed versus Craft, concerns the need for speed in a vastly accelerating environmental pace. But does a fast pivot serve the company and the consumer? “There have been times when pressures have done amazing things for us as an industry. They forced us not to over think things. They forced us to do things that are right in the moment to be responsive to our audiences and to be responsive to culture,” she explained, “ But obviously from a crafts standpoint there are times when the threadbare nature of having to move quickly can really show.”

How can one balance speed and craft? “This is really hard. At some level this is a genuine tension,” Amoo-Gottfried admitted. “I can’t claim to have figured it out. I don’t think we have. I will say that some of the best work that Doordash did last year was done very fast,” where the campaign Open For Delivery was done in six days. “It wasn’t six days for the sake of it,” he stated, “It was six days because we all felt that it was of imperative importance to get that work out in the world as soon as possible so that businesses could continue to operate. It is important to figure out what is driving that speed.”

Future of Work

Arguably the one thing that the industry is not discussing, according to Amoo-Gottfriend, is burnout. In the past 18 months the pace of work has accelerated and the degree of change in how we approach work and personal commitments has never been greater. We are, “carrying a psychic cost of living in the pandemic, of living through a racial reckoning, living through Me Too. Whatever it is that is going on,” he noted, adding that, “There is a mental cost to our teams having to negotiate that tension. The challenge is to figure out how to get around that work-life balance.”

According to Paul, the future of work must not focus on structure – remote versus live in-office, for example. People are going through a trauma. She explained that, “People don’t process trauma in the trauma. They process later when they get to a safe place. As much as it is the natural question to ask, because we all want certainty, the real question is how you care for people in the midst of shaking and what do you need?” She then answered that question.  “They need a compass instead of a map, they need community, they need a connecting story and people need compassion,” she concluded.

This article first appeared in www.MediaVillage.com