NY Interconnect's Dâna Barakat on Making Moments Matter

By NY Interconnect InSites Archives
Cover image for  article: NY Interconnect's Dâna Barakat on Making Moments Matter

There was a fresh face at Advertising Week … and it was bright green.  NY Interconnect (NYI), which recently broke away from the "typical" corporate culture mold, is looking to make big waves in the world of TV ad buying and has been tapping atypical marketing tactics to communicate just that.  Given that its turf is the biggest market in the county, and home to both world class critics and caffeine addicts, NYI respects the New York City "nothing shocks us" mindset, so they set out to make a first impression last.  Dâna Barakat (pronounced "Donna"), Vice President, Marketing and Communications, NY Interconnect, explained how they did that, with coffee and content, and a new campaign called "Moments."

E.B. Moss:  NYI certainly stood out during Advertising Week, which is no easy feat.  We saw emojis, your branded coffee truck and your logo everywhere!  Not to mention your clever coffee cups and hand-held emoji signs were in everyone's hands. 

Dâna Barakat (pictured):  Thank you!  Yes, from a branding perspective our bright green coffee truck, which was parked right outside the venue,proved to be the perfect conversation piece for people walking in and out of the building.  That was the idea.  We took advantage of the new NYI brand identity that we launched in May to create something fun that would really stand out at the event.  And we complemented that with a message that would resonate with many of the agencies and advertisers in attendance: that we're about "connecting brands to epic TV moments New York can't stop talking about."

Moss:  Why did you opt to have such a presence at Advertising Week? 

Barakat:  We wanted to take this opportunity to showcase who we are and what we do in front of an audience that would appreciate it most.  Many people are familiar with the NY Interconnect but may be unaware that this past year the company formed a new joint venture with the three largest media providers in New York:  Altice USA, Charter Communications and Comcast.  And because we now represent DirecTV, Dish and Fios as well, we can offer advertisers a seamless, integrated solution to reach more than 6.4 million households in the largest advertising market in the country -- all through one ad buy.  That's a significant value proposition for brand marketers and agencies, especially since the (new) NYI can help them reach consumers anywhere.  As consumers add new screens and platforms to their list of viewing habits, we do, too.      

Moss:  Your presence also extended to conference content, with your Chief Executive Officer, Ed Renicker; Chief Operating Officer, Tom Donohue, and Vice President, Addressable Campaign Ops, Sona Pehlivanian each moderating or participating in panels.  On Sona's panel (pictured below), the participants actually raised one of your emojis as responses to questions about ad tech/mar tech trends.  That gave you some valuable social mentions!  And the NYI-hosted panel, moderated by Ed, turned to the importance of creative in addressable campaigns and the need to differentiate by market -- like swapping out cows in cars ads running in New York City.  How do you differentiate your marketing when targeting a B2B audience?

Barakat:  B2B marketing has a reputation of being a little more stagnant compared to B2C, since it's not speaking directly to consumers and the products and services are not as "exciting."  But in our case, it's quite interesting because we're targeting ad agencies, media buyers and brand marketers, organizations that house the most creative thinkers in the industry.  So if we want to engage them, we need to be creative and think outside the box, particularly in this overly saturated industry.

Moss:  Describe the what and how of "Moments," the campaign you launched at Advertising Week.

Barakat:  We understood that before trying to communicate everything NYI can provide from a data and targeting perspective, we needed to first highlight our biggest commodity: our incredible content.  Quite simply, that's why we have the audiences.  So while most media providers or ad tech platforms are concentrating on data, data, data, we're focusing instead on our currency.

We have access to over 85 of the top cable networks through our new audience-based platform, Audience One, which means we can remind people that NYI is on the frontlines of every water cooler moment, from Glenn meeting Lucille on The Walking Dead to J.Lo's big VMA performance.  We wanted to show advertisers that we could connect their target consumers to these remarkable TV moments by reminding them that "NY is watching us," which ultimately became our tag line.

Since every big moment warrants a big reaction from audiences, our TV campaign includes actual footage of real fans devouring their favorite scenes.  For Advertising Week,we brought those same reactions to the street, with help from emojis. Using campaign-themed coffee cups and banners that proposed fun questions like "How I feel before coffee" or "Me when someone hates my favorite show," guests were invited to pick an emoji representing how they felt and take a selfie.  They were loving it!  The activation helped generate online buzz and amplified our presence at the event.  Using the hashtag #NYIMoments, guests were encouraged to post their pics on social media for a chance to win a home entertainment system so they can watch all of their favorite programs.  It was a fun twist on all the Advertising Week activities.

Moss:  What's next for the NYI marketing team?

Barakat:  We plan to build on the momentum generated by "Moments" and launch more campaigns that will take deeper dives into what our value propositions are, and how we can meet the needs of clients across specific verticals.

Moss:  What's the biggest opportunity in marketing for a media provider these days?

Barakat:  I strongly believe that one thing this industry lacks, with respect to marketing itself, is a certain level of imagination.  It seems that conversations around helping brands reach their target audiences have been so focused on numbers and stats, that somewhere along the way we forgot that we are, at our core, a media company -- one that thrives on creativity and innovation.  There's more to our brand story than just data, and we aim to bring more of that mindset into the conversations we're having.  Whether we're creating a lead-gen campaign, social posts, brand initiatives, sales pitches or client creative, we shouldn't be afraid to think more like a B2C marketer in trying to stand out from the crowd and get people's attention.  B2B can be fun, too!

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