One of the most fascinating things about attending the B&C Multichannel Advanced Advertising conference each year for the past few years has been the opportunity to observe the rate of meaningful change in the industry. This year, it seems that the pace is accelerating and that the advanced advertising ecosystem is changing in a profoundly meaningful way. The takeaway was the realization that we need to work collaboratively to break down the walled gardens, set standards, solve for challenges like fraud and work towards universally accepted cross platform metrics.
Changing the Way We Do Business
Demand for advanced advertising is growing. According to Freewheel research, the percent of streaming ads on OTT increased 27% in 4th quarter 2016 up from 8% in 2014. In tapping into this demand, many corporations are developing a set of protocols for measurement and also for developing talent to take the company into the future.
Sean Moran, Head of Marketing and Partner Solutions for Viacom shared how his company developed new data-driven solutions and sought out-of-the-box talent. With data, he explained, "We started working on our own capabilities and our own data with predictive analytics and our clients' first-party data. We built an engine that was optimizing every week and every quarter. We have 100% return business and are up to over 80 clients. We also work with over ten agencies. We have really scaled." With hiring, "We started to attract a lot of talent from Facebook and Google and get resumes from people who didn't work in TV." The progress is palpable. "Last year we were talking about view-ability. Now we are talking about content and where it shows up," he stated.
Breaking Down the Walled Gardens
A constant impediment in rolling out Advanced Advertising beyond custom buying are the walled gardens of data held by individual companies. But the walls are coming down. One of the biggest announcements in the press recently was the joint venture of Viacom/Turner/Fox Open AP which, as Moran explained, "is a buying system. We didn't get together to build the same capability tool. This just offers the ability to load in audiences across the industry. In the end it is third party measurement with third party accreditation.
"I won't say what the third party is right now," he added. "We will announce that on April 7."
It has taken a year, according to Moran, "to establish a single platform. I knew we were on to something when I got calls from agencies saying 'thank you.' Trust is a huge topic right now and this is an independent measurement. Audience buying is the future and we needed to break down some walls."
Ultimately, the best way to maximize the value of advanced TV inventory is to have an industry standard. This is no small feat when there are so many sellers -- large and small -- in the mix. Yet, Open AP is an important first step. "Our goal in building this was to include the entire industry," noted Moran. "All are welcome to be a part of it. It is de-duplicated so it is a good footprint."
One area of challenge is creative, the structure of which has not kept pace with the changing ways viewers can consume content. Moran posits, "We have taught writers how to write a show in essentially three story arcs," Moran explained. "Now we want to work to change that and overlay it with data science."
Another challenge is stitching data across screens. Michael Bologna, President of Modi Media, noted that when it comes to data across platforms, "There is no one source that stitches it all together, but you can manually stitch it together. At the end of the day the advertiser doesn't care how we do it. They just want it seamlessly integrated into the ecosystem and applied."
James Rooke, General Manager, Publisher at FreeWheel added, "It is worth remembering how complex the problem is. Think about the fragmentation of viewing that is serving many different endpoints."
A relatively new challenge concerns technology, as each company is building its own better mouse trap. "There is a lot of tech that can do different things," Bologna observed. "But everyone has made their own decisions using different technologies which don't work well together. If I want to buy you, I have to handle the challenge of working across all of your technologies."
As an industry we are making strides.
Helen Katz, Senior Vice President Media Analytics and Insights, Publicis Media noted, "We are learning a lot as we go."
Chris Wilson, Executive Vice President, National Television, comScore added, "Organizations help us get better. CIMM and the MRC help us guide the process."
The goal is to get to the essence of the issue. "If we can get to the ground truth on what is working and not working for our clients, we can improve it," stated Lindsay Leon-Atkins, CPG Measurement Manager, Facebook. "We can start to iterate. We engage with clients and partners to get to where we need to be."
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