a4 Advertising's Hasan Rahim on the Power of Listening, Learning and Leaning in to the Big Screen

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These are certainly interesting times. As the pace of change has sped up in previously unimaginable ways over the past nine months, it is worth looking at what has changed, and what has stayed the same.

It all comes down to the client, according to Hasan Rahim (pictured below), Vice President Advanced TV at a4 Advertising. Being responsible for managing addressable linear as well as the national linear side of business allows Hasan to have a more holistic approach to campaigns. To that end, a4 Advertising has reshuffled the ranks and created more intra-group synergy to help facilitate that holistic client-based approach. "Start with the client, not with what we're selling," Hasan says, "and then determine what the best combination of (a4 Advertising) opportunities is the right fit."

He points out that not all client ROI goals are created equal. "We review each client's needs: conversion events, top or bottom funnel concentration, etc.," he explains. "It's alright to be talking about features and cool, shiny objects that are working for others, but we need to know they're relevant to the client we're talking to. What really matters to them is, 'Did the dollar that I gave you get at least $1.20 back?'

"Having a completely open, transparent dialogue with the client is key so that we understand in advance their key performance indicators (KPIs)," Hasan continues. "At a4 Advertising, across all our platforms, we want to all be rowing in the same direction and at the same cadence as each of our clients and agencies. Some of the more recent projects we have been fulfilling for our clients include unduplicated incremental reach across video holistically, conversion analytics and agile optimization on linear TV, using disparate advanced data sets tactically, and naturally doing it all at an efficient and effective overall transactional CPM."

Hasan and his team have been focusing on unlocking the deep value of a4 Advertising's data and overall capabilities. One key area of focus is managing unaddressed homes that are not being targeted by typical addressable media buys. "How are we adding value to that audience and presenting that audience to the marketplace? When we understand a client's goals, we may be able to uncover an otherwise untapped alternate audience and, through data, demonstrate the ROI value of that audience" he says. "It's bringing what's been happening in the digital space into the TV space by creating liquidity against audience reach available through linear, OTT and CTV."

The advantage at a4 Advertising is their relationship with their parent company Altice. "What really sets an MVPD (Multichannel Video Programming Distributor) like Altice apart from other sources of data is the fact that we're also an Internet Service Provider (ISP), which assures we have trusted depth of data across multiple platforms," Hasan notes. "Being an ISP will always have value even as we migrate to a 5G world and to a more IP- (Internet Protocol) based universe. It's still a tremendous value from a targeting and measurement perspective."

This begs the question, is measurement still considered the Holy Grail? "We need to have the ability to replicate results with what we've uncovered through measurement to assure there's ongoing alignment of data and tactics with audience targeting goals and objectives," Hasan says. "It's an ongoing process, and we believe it is the Holy Grail when we can achieve that through a combination of Linear and Addressable TV and OTT/CTV. Our wealth of data and experience gives us the opportunity to dig deep and uncover sound targeting opportunities that might not otherwise have been discovered."

"a4 Advertising has been doing this longer than anyone else … and it has given us incredibly valuable insights, both good and bad," Hasan concludes. "Frankly, it's the failures that really make the biggest impact, in my opinion. They give you the opportunity to peer around the curves."

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