Jan 15, 2023

Focusing on Mobile and App Data. An Interview with Sabio’s Aziz Rahimtoola

For Aziz Rahimtoola, CEO and Co-Founder of Sabio, the richness of mobile data is one of the keys to understanding consumer behavior. “Sabio means wise or experienced in Spanish,” he noted. His company strives to address the issues with current panel measurement systems through mobile and app data.  


Charlene Weisler: What is the state of CTV/OTT in general at this time and where is it headed?


Aziz Rahimtoola: The CTV/OTT media landscape is quite fragmented due to the various operating system platforms and increased competition from every angle. This is good for consumers as it allows choice, but it will continue to be confusing for marketers. 


Weisler: In terms of methodology, what approach is best for marketers?


Rahimtoola: I believe that app data is more effective than panels in understanding consumer behaviors. This has been validated by Nielsen and other panel-based companies that admit to not effectively understanding streamers (app users) or diverse audiences via panels. In the 1970s, when society was 11% and monolithic, panels were more effective than now when at 42%, our population is more diverse.  


Weisler: What is App Science?


Rahimtoola: App Science combines data signals from 280 million active mobile and 110 million CTV devices and closes the quality gap between multicultural and general market data. Traditional survey panels have historically underrepresented and undercounted multicultural segments of the population. By analyzing CTV and mobile device data, App Science draws a complete picture of multicultural audiences, their preferences, and interests. They also provide trends and insights for their clients to help them better understand consumer actions and interests so they can make better strategic business decisions. This can entail programming preferences, competitive analyses, industry vertical insights, or multicultural and diverse audience trends that traditional measurement companies typically underrepresent.


Weisler: What data do you at Sabio collect and apply?


Rahimtoola: We have GDPR and CCPA-compliant ways of obtaining mobile and CTV/OTT IDs. We also use machine learning extensively to understand consumers via predictive modeling better. In addition, we provide advertisers with a pixel, or a snippet of code used for tracking, that can be applied across media buys to measure campaigns. The information can help to compare viewership among different platforms and avoid targeting the same audiences repeatedly.


Overall, we capture over one terabyte of mobile and CTV/OTT data daily and ensure that everything is ethically sourced, privacy compliant, and cleansed. This data contains a wide range of metadata that allows us to apply machine learning algorithms and other predictive modeling to considerably understand consumers’ demographics, points of interest, behaviors, and life stages. From there, we can create granular audience insights and segments that can be applied to media buys and measure campaigns’ effectiveness.


Weisler: How do you craft segments from your data?


Rahimtoola: Segments are created from a collection of CTV and mobile data where we apply the nearest neighbor, lookalikes and another predictive modeling to various attributes. When we look at the data collected from CTV/OTT and mobile, we analyze various attributes such as app ecosystem, technographic, brand visitation, purchase signals, and census data and further verify with trusted 3rd party sources. From there, we apply machine learning algorithms such as the closest neighbor, lookalikes, associations, and topic modeling to create clusters, user profiles, and audience segments that all connect back to our proprietary 55MM household graph. 


Weisler: How does Sabio differ from other platforms in the CTV/OTT space?


Rahimtoola: Sabio Holdings is the only company outside Roku with a complete end-to-end CTV/OTT technology suite of services. We can partner up with content creators and launch apps along with creating and distributing add breaks in content with our newly acquired Vidillion SSP (Supply Side Platform) acquisition, monetize them via our Sabio DSP, all while providing differentiated non-panel-based analytics via its App Science platform.


Weisler: How do you use your data to inform political campaigns?


Rahimtoola: We enhance National voter files with insights that help identify a political party’s viewing habits, app behaviors, points of interest, and key issues that matter to them most so that they can use this audience insights to inform their future campaigns, validate they are reaching their audience, and optimize in real-time.


Weisler: What were some of the trends in political advertising leading up to the midterms?


Rahimtoola: Looking back on November 8th, we noticed the most notable political advertising trends being the increase in growth in CTV and OTT.  The political sector has always been reluctant to buy into CTV, but compared to 2018, the shift has been dramatic. Prior, most political ad spending has been programmatic. We also saw an increase in the use of QR codes, and interestingly, there’s been a multicultural shift. In previous years agencies said they didn’t have a big enough budget for the Hispanic demographic. Still, there has been an increase in the general market putting money into the multicultural market.


First published in www.MediaVillage.com Thought Leaders

 Artwork by Charlene Weisler

Jan 13, 2023

CLIK Behavior Research Forum Focuses on Real World Applications

The CLIK Consumer Behavior Research Forum, founded five years ago by the Universities of Cincinnati, Louisville, Indiana and Kentucky, offers universities the opportunity the present papers grounded in media research. This year, topics included “Starbucks America vs. McDonald's America” which studied how political ideology influences consumer affinity for brands and another diving into the question of “Should Marketing Messages Be Assertive?”

The forum is sponsored by Louisville-based agency Doe-Anderson whose EVP/COO, John Birnsteel, noted that the current CLIK conference offers more applicable insights for marketers, concentrating more on the business and utility of research and not just theory.  “Our industry is rife with subjectivity,” he explained, “Any opportunity we find to help build marketing decisions on grounded research is one we support.”

For Professor Michael Barone, Chair, Marketing Department, College of Business, University of Louisville, “Doe Anderson’s involvement prompted us to veer our research talks in a little more relevant way.  To me, the best research has two components- Its rigorous, but it is also relevant, and for me that always means starting in the marketplace.”

Charlene Weisler: What are the best pieces of advice for marketers from the forum?

Birnsteel: I found calls to action quite interesting. You would think a strong call to action would really make people sit up and listen but it almost had the opposite effect. Being too assertive, can turn us into stubborn consumers.

Another piece of research done by a fellow at Indiana University mined ‘chat’ conversations.  When you go into buy something you have a chat exchange with the chat bot. His approach to the research was to access chat conversations and use AI machine learning to mine out the conversations to determine what the chat bot was and what it wasn’t able to answer.

Barone: What I found interesting from a business standpoint is that the company that gave the researcher the chat data was able to put a price on that data they shared with the University of Indiana and donate it as a tax deduction. We all talk about the value of data, but the way the company was able to donate the data to a researcher and put a value on that to the tune of tens of thousands of dollars was fascinating.

When it comes to blockchain, trust marks brands like Fairtrade and USDA Organic that validate claims are helpful, but research highlighted that leveraging the power of blockchain to verify claims leads to higher purchase intent. 

Weisler: What was the most surprising outcome or finding from CLIK?

Birnsteel: I was surprised to learn about the power – or in some cases lack thereof of influencers. The closer someone identifies an influencer as being “like me” the more likely that person is to be turned off by a brand that is disclosed as paying that influencer to promote it. It seems that followers wonder why the brand isn’t paying them the same attention as the influencer and get upset. However, this is not the case for well-known celebrities who are identified as receiving payment from a brand. In these instances, followers tend to gain affinity for that brand.  Bad news for #NextDoorNina but Kim and Khloe can breathe easy.

Also, with online shopping experiences when consumers are served a list of products and the highest priced one is the one the retailer recommends, most consumers are likely to under-weight that recommendation because they believe the retailer is trying to benefit itself.

Barone: I thought the chat bot finding was surprising because you think about typing in sensitive questions about certain products with a computerized entity. You think about who knows where that data goes, that people would trust it less. But, in fact, I think because of the embarrassment factor they actually prefer that mechanism rather than talking to a real person. The best research finding are ones, when you hear them you’re like ‘oh yeah - I get it!’ but you never would think about them initially.

Weisler: What’s the long-term goal of CLIK and the partnership between U of L and Doe-Anderson? 

Barone: There’s this international group called the Marketing Science Institute (MSI)– academics who want industry partnerships to access data, share findings. The CLIK Forum is like MSI on a smaller scale where we’ve got academics and industry folks working hand in hand to uncover new insights in marketing.

Birnsteel: We started our multicultural research with U of L.   Why the U of L of all places? Why not Miami or Houston? But after we had Breonna Taylor, our city’s focus became ‘how are we not?’ How are we are not understanding each other in the right ways? Raising funds for this was not a hard lift because everybody here felt an obligation to help out with this issue. 

This article first appeared in www.Mediapost.com

Artwork by Charlene Weisler

Dec 23, 2022

Understanding Digital Syndication with Eric Dolan and Manoli Katakis

As someone who has been writing for publications for many years, I was intrigued about the concept of digital content syndication which has been gaining traction in the industry. For writers, digital syndication doesn’t necessarily offer paid compensation. Rather, it is often structured as barter, offering free re-use of web-based content such as blog posts articles and videos to third-party websites. So while digital syndication is a revenue stream for distributors, it might be considered more of a marketing and branding opportunity for content creators.

For Eric Dolan, Founder, Publisher and Editor of PsyPost and Manoli Katakis, Founder, MuscleCarsAndTrucks.com, digital syndication offers important advantages to all participants.

Charlene Weisler: What are the advantages of digital syndication for the various interested parties?

Eric Dolan: It allows you to expand your market presence. Thanks to Nordot, PsyPost is now syndicated on MSN News and the SmartNews app, which can both generate a hefty number of pageviews. I would not be able to reach these audiences otherwise. It’s also a bit of a hedge against adblockers (depending on who your syndication partners are). If people are reading your article in Apple News or Facebook’s “Instant Articles” (rather than on your webpage), then they aren’t blocking ads.

Manoli Katakis: The main advantage has to be the extra reach that digital syndication provides, thus creating a favorable revenue stream that hedges against low ad revenue payouts. Recently, it's been a great boost.

Weisler: What are the negatives or pitfalls for the various interested parties?

Dolan: The main downside to syndication is that you lose control of your content. Your article might end up on a website with a less than stellar reputation or with a wacky clickbait headline. I have not found this to be much of a problem. But I could see how it might be a concern to those who are extra sensitive about their branding.

Katakis: One negative... is perhaps the detachment between the syndicated outlets and the platforms doing the syndicating. It might be more comprehensive if there was more collaboration between the parties, so as to provide optimal content that will drive the most traffic and revenue.

Weisler: Does the owner of the content have access to data from the syndicator or client company and if so, what is generally available? 

Dolan: Most syndication platforms provide basic traffic information, such as pageviews, and unique views. Some (such as Apple News) also provide demographic information about the readers.

Weisler: Are there best practices and if so what are they?

Dolan: There is a benefit to syndication that often gets overlooked, and that is its SEO potential. You can build up a portfolio of high-quality backlinks if you’re diligent about adding links to your other content within your articles. If you include 10 links to your other content within your article, then syndicate that article to five other outlets, you’ve just gotten yourself 50 backlinks. (And there is a good chance that your syndication partners will have high domain authority.)

Weisler: Where do you see digital syndication three years from now?

Dolan: I think the need for syndication will only continue to grow as the internet becomes more diverse, divided, and disunified. It used to be that online publications could rely on Facebook (and only Facebook) to provide them with web traffic. But Facebook is no longer king. Algorithm changes and the rise of new social media platforms have led to it no longer being a great traffic booster. If you want your articles to reach a wide audience, then they need to be present on a wide range of different platforms. 

Katakis: Digital syndication could see growth in the next three years, especially as traditional revenue streams go through a downturn cycle.

 First published in www.MediaVillage.com Thought Leaders

 Artwork by Charlene Weisler