The root of the network business is drawing a large audience to attract advertisers. As digital video and device fragmentation have disrupted the value proposition of traditional TV, data has become the equalizer.
This is one reason why the ABC Television Network is spearheading an initiative with 4C Insights, a Facebook and Twitter ads partner. The partnership, which ABC revealed Wednesday, is intended to connect social affinity and ad sponsorships.
“We all understand where the business is headed and data will be a huge part of it,” said Adam Gerber, VP of sales development and marketing at ABC Television. “Our recognition is that clients increasingly are going to want to leverage their data to deliver more value to their media investments and I think that’s the underlying principle we’re trying to solve against.”
4C, the result of a merger between social data company Voxsup and social data analysis firm The Echo System, has for several years developed a tool to enhance TV, radio and alternative media buys with social affinity data.
ABC and 4C will jointly roll out a syndicated tool that “goes beyond raw traffic counts and social engagement [actions] such as likes or tweets to determine how much of that activity was high value for the advertiser and [whether] people that were engaged with the show [were also] engaged with the brand.” Gerber said.
The two companies have worked on pilots before to analyze live-event and long-term brand integrations to prove the value of sponsorships bring to advertisers. Although ABC hasn’t shared its findings, the broadcaster “wanted to know how the audience was connecting with various aspects of the programming,” said Lance Neuhauser, CEO of 4C.
For example, ABC and a large brand sponsor had a long-term partnership. By deploying 4C’s algorithms, ABC saw that, prior to a sponsorship run, there was very little connection between the brand or program. There was also little overlap in engagement or affinity – the likelihood someone would re-engage with a brand unprompted.
Over two weeks, Neuhauser said, engagement with specific shows, content and talent on social mirrored the consumers’ interest in the brand advertiser. This sort of insight is particularly valuable when ABC seeks out new sponsor opportunities.
ABC’s allegiance with 4C is one of its many maneuvers designed to scale up its digital and data-driven acumen. The broadcaster recently brought on a data-driven sales chief and began unlocking programmatic reserve inventory for digital video ad sales.
And although the social beta influences direct sales sponsorships, Gerber said ABC does not isolate these initiatives from its programmatic strategies.
“Over the past 18-24 months, Geri Wang, our president of sales, has made it a mission for us to become much more ingrained in data to understand how it will change our business in the mid-to-long term,” he said. “Our programmatic initiatives are not about direct sales vs. machine buying. That’s not what we’re debating internally or even trying to pursue. … We think if we have a better understanding of the relationship between our talent and shows, viewers and advertisers, everyone wins.”
He added: “At the end of the day, our programmatic initiative is a reserve programmatic initiative where salespeople are still calling on folks at an agency talking about a strategic approach to a buy and discussing how they implement data.”
By: Kelly Liyakasa
“Data-Driven Thinking” is written by members of the media community and contains fresh ideas on the digital revolution in media.
Today’s column is written by Lance Neuhauser, CEO at 4C.
It’s an eternal question in a marketer’s life: Should you choose the path of the agency or a specialized point solution?
At the outset, employing a managed services technology solution can be a savvy choice. Any time a new sphere like social media is created, agencies often fail to adopt and master the required technical skills quickly enough. Point solutions specializing in one specific media provide the speed and know-how brands need to dive into cutting-edge technology and gain a competitive edge.
So if a smart decision carried you into a managed services technology relationship, why would it be a smarter decision to ultimately shift back into one with an agency?
And when you make the move, how do you decide which agency best aligns with your revamped needs?
Why Migrate Back?
The answer comes down to boosting efficiency and brand security. Agencies offer what point solutions, by nature, cannot: an integrated solution for buying and planning your media. You want to ensure that your customer isn’t being oversaturated with content and that the brand is represented consistently across all channels. Managing all content in the same house provides large-scale efficiencies that protect your marketing investment. When you work with an agency, you eliminate the disconnect between your brand’s latest communication platforms, such as Facebook or Instagram, and your more established offline campaigns.
Perceptive brands recognize the need to move away from point solutions into one cohesive strategy. The same pendulum swing has played out in display and search marketing: Managed services provided one point of expertise until agencies grew more equipped to handle the technology. Today, social marketing is mirroring that process: It’s evolved into a mainstay, crossing the chasm that divides trends from necessary consumer touch points. Brands are beginning to recognize that social channels can no longer be treated in isolation.
To get the most out of your social investment and the sharp understanding of consumer behavior it provides, you need to work with someone who understands all components of your marketing strategy. This approach also brings the added benefit that agencies can take on the heavy lifting of vetting and choosing best-in-breed technologies that they work into their integrated strategy.
Navigate The Switch
Unfortunately, agency and brand motives do not always align. An agency’s main responsibilities are to protect the brand and employ the most strategic solutions. However, agencies are often compensated based on a percentage of media that is put into play, or on a full-time equivalency basis. But delivering better results for the brand? Agencies rarely receive better compensation for better results.
When agencies can’t make more money through results alone and need to reduce costs, they will often choose technologies that make life easier for them – not necessarily for the brand. With this in mind, your responsibility in choosing an agency is to understand not only how they vet their technology, but how they use that technology’s data. As a brand, you need to fully comprehend the benefits of each technology solution provided by the agency. Responsible agencies choose options they have vetted and deemed will benefit the brand in the long run.
As you begin your journey with your agency partner, prioritize the extraction and elevation of cross-channel data. This will be a tremendous source of business intelligence fuel for your overarching strategy. It is important that the agency shares that philosophy or they will struggle to meet this need. Your agency partner has the benefit of working with many clients and brands. Use their experience to help you. Push them to provide analysis and reporting that makes your life easier and helps you keep your mind clearer. Together, you should be able to learn from the stories that are being told by the campaign and audience data.
Win In The Long Run
Historically, attempting to build market-leading strategy expertise and best-in-breed technology simultaneously has been a recipe for inefficiency and mediocrity. It is why the point solutions, over time, must choose one path and why the agencies gain an advantage. As long as your agency adopts technologies that conform to their need to execute tasks quickly – but also choose those tools that can deliver media in a way that maximizes results for your brand – you’ll get the best of both worlds.
Ultimately, moving to an agency-based relationship aligns with the principle that brands do best when oriented around consumer behavior. Consumers do not have channel conflict, just channel choice; the overlap in behavior with social media and television is but one example. Keeping your social point solution separate from all your marketing communication touch points blocks the opportunity to analyze how the consumer is interacting and how you can combine data from all channels to improve engagement. Use social as an integrated business intelligence fuel and you’ll maximize results from your marketing dollars.
With the upfront advertising market approaching, a research company working with Facebook is releasing a study showing how data from the giant social networking site can be used to more effectively target and buy television commercials.
The analysis of public Facebook data by 4C, which has been applying computations science to big data for 20 years, found connections between the brands people interact with and the shows they watch. Some of those connections confirmed long-held media-buying practices, such as beer companies advertising in sports, but others yielded surprising new connections.
Social media companies Facebook and Twitter have been jockeying to form closer ties with the TV business, in part to get closer to big spending TV advertisers and broadcast buyers. Both companies are looking to build their advertising businesses, which will be increasingly video oriented, which could make them competitors for TV ad dollars, as well as digital ad spending
The new study also shows new ways in which advertising on TV and Facebook can more effectively work together.
Facebook and 4C say the data is useful to brands, media buyers and television programmers.
“4C is currently working with several television networks that see tremendous value in analyzing public social data to inform their program positioning and brand partnership opportunities,” said Lance Neuhauser, CEO of 4C. “One of the major networks has made educated choices about what viewers want to see and is using our affinity-based insights to inform their efforts for the upcoming upfront process.”
4C has also been working with divisions of agency holding company Publicis Groupe. “We’ve been impressed with how 4C integrates data and insights into their social advertising platform, and are looking forward to seeing how they will utilize their expertise in data science for cross channel opportunities,” said Lisa Weinstein, president, global digital, data and analytics, Starcom MediaVest Group.
“We’re talking about a major milestone,” said Rob Creekmore, advertising research manger, marketing science, at Facebook. “For the first time TV media planners can use 4C’s analysis and public Facebook data to plan TV and Facebook media together.” Better data on how social campaigns interact with TV could lead to more spending on Facebook ads.
The study analyzed 150 brands in five major categories and more than 800 programs on 14 broadcast and cable networks, seeking affinities between them.
For a beer brand, the study found high brand affinity for sports, including ESPN’s SportsCenter and Monday Night Football.
If the beer brand were negotiating with NBC, it would be looking to buy more Sunday Night Football. In talks with Comedy Central, the beer maker would want to heavy up on series including It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia and The Colbert Report. Other shows scoring high with lovers of this brand of beer included TBS’Men at Work, ESPN’s SportsNation and First Take, Seinfeld on TBS, Boondocks on Adult Swim and ABC’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
The study found that the genre of programming that had the highest affiliation with financial services advertising was reality. For example, Chase’s Sapphire credit card matched up with Bravo’s Real Housewivesfranchise. Other offbeat matches between products and the shows with the highest affinity for them included Barbie and Saturday Night Live, Microsoft and Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., and Hot Pockets and the NBC’sSunday Night Football.
“We see the research as truly actionable,” said Neuhauser. “Too many folks see Facebook as just an activation channel. Because of the nature of social, we actually believe it can be one of the most powerful business intelligence tools that has ever come into the market.”
“In the past, many brands have had a hard time accessing and understanding behavioral data. But now our clients are able to use Facebook behavior to understand how consumers think and why they choose one brand over another,” Neuhauser said. “By making informed decisions about their Facebook and television advertising, these companies can appeal to both their current and prospective audiences and intensify their marketing power.”