Brave New World of True Accountability: An Interview with A+E Networks' Roseann Montenes

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Cover image for  article: Brave New World of True Accountability: An Interview with A+E Networks' Roseann Montenes

Can we ever get away from the antiquated demographic guarantee? According to Roseann Montenes (pictured above), vice president, precision and performance advertising sales at A+E Networks, the answer is a resounding "yes"! She should know. Montenes is one of the forces behind A+E Networks' MVP (Multi-Viewing Precision) initiative, a system that moves marketers from legacy metrics to true KPI accountability.

Convincing the Industry

There is something a little unnerving to advertisers about moving from the comfort of demographics to true accountability. "It is essentially like moving a small mountain," she admitted. "You have clients that are so used to doing business one way since the dawn of time. It was almost like when we made the shift to C3 and had to get clients into that mindset." The shift began to occur after, "tons of education and tons of case studies that demonstrated to clients that they could take the demo guarantee out of it and focus on who their true audience is."

The first step is to "prioritize all of the client's KPIs to see what matters most," Montenes explained. "Is it targeting households that have anyone from adults 18-49 in them? Or is it targeting someone who is in-market to purchase a new vehicle?" The answer is usually to move product. "At the end of the day, that's what matters most," she continued. "That is how we started to change the conversation." And yet, even with this great effort, it took a full broadcast year cycle to get a client onboard, comfortable and then implement.

Delivering the KPI

What is the most meaningful metric to offer in place of demographics? For A+E Networks it is the change in currency, moving from demographic guarantees to measurable business outcomes "We are getting creative and moving away from demos," Montenes noted. "For example, we just did our first guarantee against attention measurement in fourth quarter," which was done with partner TVision. She added that MVP has the ability to ingest any data set. "Our management doesn't limit us to what kind of datasets we can partner with," she said. "Any third party dataset, we can onboard an advertiser's own first party data onto our platform and any other standard, generic, statements -- whether it is a Polk dataset or MRI. For those advertisers who don't have their own strategic target in place, they can come to us and we can help them create one."

To craft a plan, MVP enables a drill down, "to the sell title level, to the half hour level," Montenes explained. "This allows us to make those in-campaign optimizations based off of the pacing of whether it's our target measurement or a guarantee against a business outcome, or whether we are optimizing against reach or a particular strategic target." This enables the network to maximize the value of all of its programs, regardless of demographic performance levels. "There are no two programs that are equal when you are talking about a customized strategic target," she noted, as opposed to being able to compare programs based on demographics which are more standardized but less targeted.

How MVP Works

MVP offers marketers true cross platform optimization. But how does it actually work? "What we do is take a strategic target audience and optimize through our Precision platform, which is our linear arm, and find the audience there," she said. "We then do an optimization on the digital side through our Digital Precision offering and then we blend those two plans together. We allow the client to have full access into the allocation of impressions within the linear and digital arm and then it is figuring out the balance." Notably, each campaign is monitored by hand to carefully consider how each spot, whether linear or digital, contributes best to the KPI goal. Both the linear and the digital teams are in constant contact to make sure that the overall plan is on target.

Impact of the Pandemic

With multiple advertisers on board, the teams at A+E Networks have been able to monitor a full broadcast year's worth of MVP performance. "Now that we feel comfortable and know that it works, this is something we are going to bring to other clients as an opportunity to change the total outlook of currency and how to trade off of it," she assured. Of course, the landscape has changed since fourth quarter 2019 with the pandemic, but a marketer could successfully pivot … and should.

"For a really long time, we were all about foot traffic into store locations, dealerships and into family dining establishments," Montenes recalled. "Once COVID hit, we felt this sense of 'oh no' now that foot traffic has stopped, because you are not allowed, how do you reimagine what a partnership looks like?"

After the initial sense of panic due to the pandemic dissipated, "it quickly fixed itself," she said. So instead of actually dining in a restaurant, consumers were downloading the app. "We switched the conversation and KPI to be reimagined and looked at differently. It went from foot traffic to app downloads and foot traffic to conversions." Notably in some cases, the advertiser still wanted to deliver on foot traffic.

Going Forward

For Montenes, there is a new normal for media now. "Clients have gotten a peek under the hood in terms of what their business could look like," she said. "There is now efficiency in seeing the world that once was and measuring it in the world that now is. How can you go back to the way it was before, now that we see what the new world actually looks like?"

Montenes added that she is very optimistic about the future. "It's exciting to see how much has changed since last March," she concluded. "It hasn't changed for the worse. It's changed for the better."

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