“The New TV”:  Reports of its Death Have Been Greatly Exaggerated

By Comcast Advertising InSites Archives
Cover image for  article: “The New TV”:  Reports of its Death Have Been Greatly Exaggerated

Justin Evans loves data.  We’re not just talking Cliff Clavin interesting facts level; we are going full-on “Moneyball” here.  So, it’s pretty fortunate that Evans (pictured above) has the job of Vice President, Data Strategy at Comcast Spotlight where he can pore over huge amounts of data and bear first-hand witness to the changes that directly impact the television landscape.

His love of data started when his mentor, Thom Mastrelli, brought him on board the data train at Nielsen.  “He said, ‘Listen, kid, you’ve been working at the New York Times in ads, you should be in a 21st century business like data,’” Evans recalled.  Working with data was like “solving a Rubik’s Cube in my head,” and he truly enjoyed the challenge.

At Nielsen Evans learned how to solve marketing problems with data.  He also recognized the power of being able to translate dataspeak to English.  In fact, it is his “mission to be the guy who turns data and AdTech into ideas that everybody can understand,” he said.  This qualifies him as the perfect person to work with local businesses that want to learn how to better reach specific audiences efficiently and effectively through technology.

At Comcast Spotlight he enjoys working with local businesses because they “really know their customers.  They shake the hand of their customers, and every penny of investment is coming out of their pockets.  They really focus on sales.”  Evans gets a real kick when small business owners use the phrase, “Make My Door Swing.”  For the small business owner, sales are their lifeblood and this opens the door to a dialogue led by big data and segmentation that goes way beyond their age/demo segments that they are used to.

But Evans was frustrated, because in numerous meetings and conversations that he participated in with his Comcast Spotlight salespersons he’d continually hear those business owners talk about moving their advertising investment away from TV to digital.  They kept reading reports about how TV was dying, and Evans knew directly from the data that it just wasn’t accurate.  Yes, TV was evolving, but by no means was it dying.  In fact, in 2018 U.S. households were spending 43 minutes more with TV daily than they were in 1983 -- just in a much more fragmented fashion across multiple devices.  What does an English major from Columbia University do?  He writes.  Specifically, he writes a manifesto called “The New TV,” documenting the evolution of TV and how this evolution has only enhanced our love affair with storytelling, in all its forms, accessible anywhere and everywhere via multiple devices:

  • Adults spend 65% more time with video (5:24 hours) than non-video digital (3:17 hours)
  • Adults watch TV/video on non-traditional devices or formats for between 2 and 9 hours per week
  • 91% of adults watch TV/video weekly (inclusive of live linear, DVR time-shifted and viewing on connected devices) for a total of 35 hours on average

This all leads Evans to put forward a case for marketers that video, unlike traditional narrowband ad solutions, is a full funnel medium.  It’s a medium that allows marketers to reach and steward their prospects across all stops along the customer journey; to drive both awareness and emotional bonding with consumers – the impact of being associated with high quality, premium programming to effective efficiency to close the sale with consumers ready to “swing the door.”

“The point that we are trying to emphasize in ‘The New TV’ is that multiple access points for video have created a larger, fast-growing, frothy, heavily investing marketplace for content to match consumer and context,” Evans explained.

That explosion of content and devices has led to a wealth of data generated by over 17 million HHs, which Comcast Spotlight can use to move local marketers into a model that allows for addressable targeting and robust segmentation.  “The New TV” highlights a test and control case study conducted on behalf of a local auto dealership.  The results of that study not only illustrated an incremental lift by targeting audiences and widening the field of networks versus the content-focused plan, but website visits rose 13% over the course of the campaign, while the conversion rate of immediate visitors more than doubled versus the control.

One of the challenges Evans faces in working with thousands of SMBs across multiple geographies versus a national (or full footprint) marketer is scalability.  With national campaigns at significant budgets, you can rationalize the allocation of resources for set-up and analysis of addressable segments and campaign attribution. Local budgets, while significant in aggregate, are laborious on an individual client and market level. In the coming weeks, Comcast Spotlight has a game-changing solution on deck.  “Over the next few weeks, we’ll be rolling out our first set of tools that allow local advertisers to deploy audience-driven campaigns at scale,” he said.

In addition to deploying this planning tool, Comcast Spotlight customers do have the ability to utilize a tool that enables a scalable attribution solution.  “When the client TV ads air,” Evans noted, “we track from the beginning point and look for uplift in their website visitors over a 30-minute period.”

Evans has a clear view of the future.  “I think, in local markets, we are very early,” he said.  “Upper funnel continues to be very effective and clients have learned what works.  Some clients reflexively think about TV as news/sports, top networks or primetime, and that is very effective when you are upper funnel-focused.  When you go lower funnel, you should look at a different toolkit, and that requires change.  We are in the first act of helping local businesses understand that they can grow their business using ‘New TV’ tactics.”

He hopes that within the next year there will be a broader and richer dialogue around attribution. “We want a mindset with clients where they are engaging with us over time and looking at performance with us over time. We want to be truly advising them on how to grow their business using data and strong KPIs.”

The main point that Evans hopes you’ll take away from “The New TV” is that TV is alive, well and thriving -- just different.  It is a full funnel enhanced by the audience-driven targeting capabilities designed to close the deal, but still very much empowered by the upper funnel abilities to drive the emotional power of brand via direct connections with premium content.  The outcome is more consumer engagement and time spent with sight, sound and motion media.

“The TV market is exploding with excitement due to this massive investment and competition for consumer attention,” he concluded.  “This translates into exciting new opportunities for advertising.”

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