Marketers and media agencies collectively are facing a perfect storm. Media options, particularly for television and video advertising, have grown exponentially. More and more media buys are conducted programmatically at the buyer's fingertips instead of via a traditional insertion order. Agency teams are expected to have expertise across many disciplines and the sellers they work with are stretched equally thin. For today's overtaxed media buyer, a partnership with a responsive media account executive who can expertly answer questions is a major differentiator.
And that is the case at DISH Media. senior vice president Kevin Arrix says that having a knowledgeable and expert sales force that can work directly with brand and agency buyers is vital to his customers. Arrix, whose team represents inventory on both DISH and Sling TV, was trained by the "O.G.s" of television advertising at Turner Broadcasting (now WarnerMedia) years ago. He believes that buyers value both technology and people. He also believes that the essence for DISH Media's overall focus on the customer is a "multi-lingual" and analytics-empowered team able to speak the language of brands and technology, answer buyers' questions about every product, and demonstrate impact on key results marketers are measuring.
"Our core belief is that if we better educate advertisers and agencies as to the impacts and benefits of advanced video advertising, we will grow the overall market and, in turn, we will win," Arrix says. Those benefits include a national footprint satellite service, the "number one live OTT service," access to rich first-party data, and more.
Arrix cites addressable television, which DISH pioneered in 2012, as an example. Addressable is technology that allows an advertiser or an agency to deliver a specific message, based on a specific KPI, to a certain customer or household. Addressable TV is most commonly known for its targeting benefits and as a results-driver for brands. "We have a whole host of case studies that show the proof is in the pudding," he says. "We're saying, 'OK, 20 percent of this linear spot is going to run in certain households that we know definitively — through deterministic data — are in the market for an auto because we have anonymized matched data that shows these households' leases expire in the next three months.'"
Arrix credits his team and other significant players in the space with demonstrating that the benefits of addressable outweigh the incremental costs. "In the beginning, we received objections about addressable's scale, expense, and need for third-party measurement," he says. "And one by one, each of those hurdles has been cleared. It has been a huge success for many of our customers, in several categories."
When asked whether his team's focus was on DISH or Sling TV, Arrix points to his parent company's focus on customer needs. He notes that Sling TV was born of his company's leadership in creating products that work for customers — subscribers — in the way they currently want to watch TV. "Customer focus is everything" Arrix asserts. "We encourage our sales team to represent the overall DISH Media portfolio; whatever makes sense for our clients. And we require our sellers to be fluent in data, TV, digital, and programmatic. That is the new norm and DISH Media will lead the way."
Arrix's take on the typical sales force from a few years ago is that "if you were really good at one thing — whether it be following-up, getting to see clients, or explaining technology — you could be successful. Today, you have to be good at a lot of things to be an effective seller." That's one key reason for his emphasis is on his team serving as an expert resource for his clients no matter how those clients prefer to conduct business.
Arrix started his career at an agency, FCB, then moved to Turner, crediting their training program and executives for influencing his management style. "I always had an interest, from the very beginning, in being on the frontier," he says. Later he moved into digital, and his vision for the future is tied to the industry-wide growth he saw in that area.
"For an advertiser buying into addressable, they're going to buy the full footprint, whether it's DISH or DirecTV, or Altice, or Verizon, or Ampersand with Comcast, Charter, and Cox. There's addressable scale among the MVPDs and they are all non-duplicative," Arrix says. "I feel the sale for all of us in addressable is around the product and why it makes sense — because, once we do that, then it's classic 'rising tide that lifts all boats.' Addressable is a smart and accountable way to advertise, and it will continue to grow. It's a logical next step for addressable to be enabled in some national minutes at the broadcast- and cable-programmer levels moving forward."
Arrix emphasizes the importance of ongoing innovation for DISH and the industry overall. "Our role in all of this at DISH Media is to continue to be a leader and pioneer by coming up with ideas and solutions that we think are best for the business," he says. "Perhaps we can't move the market by ourselves, but we can certainly set an example and influence it."
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