Viacom and Turner Present Multi-Uses of Data at Meeting of USIM's Secret Society

By Media Insights Archives
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The Secret Society may not be so secret anymore since Steve Lanzano, President and CEO of the TVB gave it a shout out at the recent TVB Advertising Week event.  But some mystery still remains:  The latest Secret Society meeting at the Turner offices in NYC was held in a non-descript conference room behind an unmarked door. It included presentations from Viacom, Hulu, NBCU and Turner, collected around a theme of data, audience targeting, addressability and branding. “Consumer choices are changing,” stated Mitch Oscar, Director, Advanced Television at USIM. “1975 was the first year that broadcast networks guaranteed age and gender in the Upfronts. Prior, it was household guarantees. Now we look at households with people of a specific age, gender and behavioral characteristics.”

Viacom:  Enabling a Currency of Fandom

Bryson Gordon, Executive Vice President Data Strategy at Viacom, gave a stirring presentation on fandom through the lens of data and analytics. He is relatively new to media, starting his career at McAfee where he used audience insights and segmentations to move that business from box software to subscription. From there he moved to Microsoft to build up eCommerce services. The similarities these companies have with media companies, he posited, are the patterns of deconstruction and cultivation. When you examine the audience data, Gordon explained, “The pattern of deconstruction concentrates on sub-communities within a homogenous base. The pattern of cultivation concentrates on a community that often doesn't transact or behave as a community yet. You don't know you are in the club yet. You share attributes and behaviors that can be targeted but don't yet share a common purpose. TV doesn't participate in that today. Legacy approach in TV is failing to keep pace with the advancements within audience demographic traction and cultivation.”

His work in Viacom is to ensure that all marketing efforts target the right audience. “The audience we believe we attract may not be our audience at all,” he noted, citing as an example the finding that when Microsoft introduced their newest PC, they initially thought that hipsters who owned Apple devices would be their target -- but using very advanced data science they found that the hipster focus was wrong. “Women who had two kids under the age of ten who lived in Midwest and who voted for Romney would be the target for this device,” he explained. “The good news is that data science is transforming TV. We can fuse data sets; the hygiene of the data is so much better than years ago and data science is way more sophisticated.”

And the future for data in TV is bright. “There is a fundamental democratization of data science which allows us to take incredible sets of data and do precise analysis of fan segments,” he stated. “[At Viacom] we plan with the advertiser to understand the custom target, inboard the data set, offer 17 predictive models and optimize on an ongoing basis. We can do it without creating liability and we are transparent. This is leading to a new way of selling and a currency of fandom.

“TV can now be delivered in a variety of ways with both a custom audience and custom creative,” Gordon concluded.

Turner:  Data, Technology and Analytics Lead to Opportunities for Buyers

Major network groups like Viacom, NBCU and Turner are focusing their efforts on data-driven sales solutions. Larry Allen, Vice President Ad Innovation and Programmatic at Turner, presented an overview of two innovative approaches to buying media using technology and advanced data analytics -- Turner Targeting Now and Turner Audience Now -- through its Turner Ignite initiative.

Part of the challenge of evolving to a more data-driven approach is historical. “It is jarring to say you've been buying one way for 20 years and now you buy in a new way,” Allen asserted.

With Turner’s solutions the client can supply any custom data set they want. “We will use any dataset. We are data agnostic and can achieve consistency across solutions,” said Dan Aversano, Senior Vice President Ad Innovation and Programmatic Solutions at Turner.  “We build a consistency of metrics without having a currency. But seasonality is factor,” he cautioned, “as is viewing between platforms and modality. Lots of touch points create a new dynamic. There is the issue of data freshness and audience changes for quarter to quarter. So we plan the impact quarter by quarter for plan optimization.”

The next step for Turner is addressable, which is a careful process.  “All of this has to work within our traffic system,” Aversano explained. “It is a challenge for us because TV is a giant jigsaw puzzle and all of our inventory has to sit together from the traffic, deal and proposal systems.”

Secret Society Takeaway

The application of innovative data-driven solutions appears to be gaining traction among the major media companies. Through the efforts of the Secret Society and other industry initiatives, the sharing of initiative techniques and solutions will hopefully lead to a standardization of processes for the industry at large. Let’s continue to keep the conversation flowing.

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