Ethan Rapp of Simulmedia on Marketing Data Companies

By Media Insights Archives
Cover image for  article: Ethan Rapp of Simulmedia on Marketing Data Companies

Ethan Rapp recently joined Simulmedia as Senior Vice President of Program Management, bringing “deep experience in marketing effectiveness as well as developing insights and analysis that help define new media paradigms,” according to Mainak Mazumdar, Simulmedia’s Chief Science Officer.

Rapp was an early innovator in digital research at DoubleClick in its formative years and has held senior research roles at AOL, Conde Nast and Knowledge Networks. He also co-founded Marketing Evolution, a leading cross media measurement firm.  Currently, Rapp is responsible for the Simulmedia’s Business Outcomes measurement programs which combine TV viewership data from set top box data with behavioral data including transactions and online activity from various sources.

I recently sat down with Rapp to learn more.

Charlene Weisler: What do your Business Outcomes capabilities enable Simulmedia to do?

Ethan Rapp: We now have the ability to look at client specific Business Outcomes relative to Simulmedia television buys and other television and online components of the client's campaign. Examples of these outcomes can include: offline sales, online sales, basket sizes, transactions by customer segment, online behaviors, etc. It’s really an effort to look at media’s direct impact on a client’s goals in a very transparent way and at the same time demonstrate the value of Simulmedia’s audience targeting. Because we do a lot of “data matching,” we take great precautions to protect privacy, and in fact never ever touch personally identifiable data ourselves. We always use trusted third parties

CW: How does this work with clients?

ER: This has become a critical part of the Simulmedia offering as we are now guaranteeing that our media will produce better business outcomes than traditional television buying and planning. We provide money back if we don’t improve overall business outcomes relative to the TV buy made without us. This is a huge step in the industry and takes any perceived risk out of audience buying for the client.

This measurement is provided at no additional charge with a minimum media buy. While we have no intention to become a research company, a lot of what we do is unavailable elsewhere, especially because we can see all TV consumed, including our buy, the other buys of our clients, and even their competitors’ buys. So as you can imagine, there is a lot of analysis we have the capability to do that doesn’t exist elsewhere. Our analysis can and should inform future planning and buying (that is what makes it truly closed loop).

CW: Where is television measurement heading? Will it become more digitally based with connected TVs?

ER: The interesting thing that has happened to TV in the last couple of years is that digital has provided pressure on the CMO and CFO to provide ROI across more media. Until recently, TV has not been able to deliver the same level of visibility that digital can provide. Recently however we have gained access to this great treasure trove of set top box data, which allows us to do far better targeting and measurement.

CW: What do you think the common metrics will be to facilitate cross platform measurement?

ER: I think the “must have” in the industry requires that the metrics for digital media and the metrics for TV need to eventually align. I don’t think that the result should be the GRP regardless of how entrenched it is currently. I think it needs to be at a person level or at least a household level because that is what will enable the understanding of efficiency in media planning. Eventually it needs to be business outcomes. That’s our job. Improve the ability for companies to grow their bottom line with their ad spending.

CW: Is ROI only about the client’s immediate return on a specific campaign or is it broader than that?

ER: The metric has to be at a level where we can measure individuals and markets. Buyers will want to know where they can specifically place efficient media to influence people and move market share, both in the short term and long term. They want to know where they are gaining share from and where they are losing it. ROI needs to be framed by the specific goals of the marketer. That’s why we work so hard to make our targeting so robust and our measurement tailored to each client.

CW: What are the greatest differences between digital and TV?

ER: The differences are substantial right now. Objectively there are probably more differences than there are similarities. From a creative standpoint TV gives you emotion. TV gives you reach. TV gives you a brand identity over the short and long term. Digital has never really proven to do those things in a scalable, lasting way. On the other hand, digital is great for highly targeted buys, to be able to drive short term sales, the ability to optimize and activate in real-time, based on how audiences behave, and to a certain extent create targeted awareness. It is very flexible as a medium. It is a lot harder to create a new campaign in TV in a couple of days where in digital you can create one in a couple of hours. Of course the goal is the same -- to drive sales. With all that said, TV is still the most dominant medium against almost any metric you can think of, especially consumption and influence. The imminent death of TV is highly overstated and we are innovating in ways that make it more targeted and more measurable.

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