05/04/23: Using the Power of Collaboration to Create the Best Impressions


Cynopsis Medias First Morning Read
Thursday May 4, 2023

Using the Power of Collaboration to Create the Best Impressions

By E.B. Moss

There have been huge changes in the industry’s race to standardize multiple media currencies, with a finish line tantalizingly close but still just out of reach. With an almost altruistic attitude towards the advertising business, Roseann Montenes wants everyone to be a winner: media companies, measurement and ad tech partners, and, most especially, ad clients of A+E Networks. Her outlook is representative of the network’s Precision + Performance approach to ad sales, renowned for offering some of the first guarantees in business outcomes. Well-titled as the Head of Strategic Audience Solutions/Partnerships and Alternative Currency Measurement, Montenes outlined, in a recent conversation, A+E’s perspective on the value of achieving standards in measurement, business outcomes and a consultancy style of selling.


At the Measurement Starting Gate

An overall “win” requires the industry to embrace a holistic view of the state of alternative currency and, as Montenes advocates, a cohesive effort to educate and collaborate. Without an agreed-upon standard there is stumbling and faltering, to everyone’s detriment. Hence the network is a vocal member of a consortium of both buyers and sellers – agencies, programmers, streaming platforms and more – in OpenAP’s first ever U.S. Joint Industry Committee (JIC), which is working to solve for consistency in that measurement against all content, no matter where it’s viewed.

Alternative currency measurement is measuring the value of a true impression. “It’s almost,” Montenes explains, “like cash value for an impression. The problem,” she believes, “is that everybody is trying to position it that they can do it better… that they know how to do it the right way. But there is no ‘right way’ right now. We’re all learning, all drinking the same water, all trying to get our feet under us to understand what’s actually being done. So, I’m not going to sit here and say that we’re a leader in the space, or that we’re writing the blueprint. But we are out there trying to educate the market.”

As A+E Ad Sales President Peter Olsen noted in a previous interview, “Measuring each impression fairly is crucial to a smarter, sustainable future.” Montenes likens this present time in alternative currency standardization efforts as: “a bike race, where we’re all riding together, but if one person moves out, everybody else comes crashing down. If we move together in unison, we would all get to the finish line. Some may get there a little bit faster, some of us may get there a little bit slower, but if we all move in the same direction, we’re all going to get to the same end goal.”

“Creating standardization is not easy to do. It requires understanding benchmarking and baselines, looking at the data historically and what goes into the methodology,” explains Montenes. Those in front may be larger players with the funds and greater capacity to expand, “or make some flashy headlines with some vendors…A+E is sitting very steadily in the middle of the pack, and staying in our own swim lane,” says Montenes with the confidence of a seasoned executive.

“We’re also looking at what’s going into these methodologies across multiple different vendors and not just sticking with one,” she points out. “We’re talking to all of them, with the approach of ‘what matters most to our clients?’. Because my biggest question is what happens when a major advertiser goes from one agency to another, and their transactions were all based off of, let’s say, iSpot.tv, but then they go to another agency that has tapped all into VideoAmp? Are they starting again at the bottom?” In true A+E consultancy-sell style she adds, “We’re always asking how we become a resource to the industry and so joined the JIC to better understand the impact of the marketing, of measuring sustainable impressions, and then also keeping very true to what we’re doing with business outcome guarantees, which will always be our bread and butter.”

Montenes says A+E’s own path forward is based on “testing and learning, and not forcing anyone to activate on a particular form of currency, but taking a client-first, flexible approach.” But do not mistake A+E for the tortoise versus the hare: while it’s not about winning an alternative currency race, the network’s focus on insights has often ignited others to keep up, as they consistently stomp for industry-wide collaboration, “keeping vendors honest and not changing methodology mid-campaign,” and sharing their collective knowledge base.


Back to Fundamentals for the Win

With more than a decade on the agency side and the past five years on the programmer side, Montenes takes seriously the intention of pulling others along to all win: “I spend a lot of time educating in the market, the same way I did five years ago when everybody’s like, ‘well, what’s addressability?’ and ‘what’s strategic targeting?’ or explaining buzzwords that people would sprinkle in a sentence.”

As a case in point, she reminds us that alternative currency measurement, “which is a little bit more transactional, and based off of impression measurement,” differs from business outcome measurement, “which is the actual act of someone doing something that attributes to the bottom line of a client’s business. A lot of times those lines get blurred.”

Montenes freely admits that “half the meetings I have are not about A+E Networks’ capabilities; I’m out there telling clients, ‘Let’s dig deeper in the textbook. Let’s go back to the fundamental pros and cons of executing a campaign off of an alternative currency measurement or business outcomes, or tell me what you’re looking to get.’”

That forthright candor is classic A+E style. Explains Montenes, “when we believe in something strongly, we are the first ones to dive in, make the bold statement, and stand firm, saying, ‘this is what we stand for, this is where we are we are.’ It is, she points out, an advantage that comes from being a more nimble-sized network that is less Wall Street-dependent than many of its counterparts. That was never more evident than five years ago with the launch of the industry-leading Precision and Performance outcome guarantees.

A Custom Fit

Establishing outcome goals is not a one-size-fits-all model. And drilling down on business outcomes – that “bread and butter” – is what separates A+E from the pack. To customize it for every single campaign, “you have to start to ask the tougher questions like, ‘what goes into a conversion?’ and ‘how are you actually measuring viewability?’ or ‘what do foot traffic guarantees look like?’ That’s where you start to actually peel apart that onion and get down to the basics of what matters most to each individual client.”

Montenes’ enthusiasm for collaborative success stories is palpable. She shared one example of how her team helped an agency that was “stumped” about how to do a guarantee against attention measurement. “How cool is it that agencies get a challenge from their clients to do some crazy guarantee, and we’re one of the first calls that they make? The panicked agency called us first and asked if we could help and build it out with them. We became the first ever in the market to do that with attention. We knew nothing about it, but we talked to the vendor, we understood what we needed to do, we understood the assignment, and we knew the steps that needed to be taken. And because we’re small and flexible and we can de-risk ourselves, we’re able to play a different game.”


Step By Step with Precision

That step by step approach was the genesis of Precision’s strategic target guarantees, before building out that model to more of a customizable scale. Like a proud parent, Montenes says, “We had the idea of doing a one-network guarantee against a strategic target and calling it Precision One. That led us to talk to a totally different market that we were able to get in the door at a smaller price point and enable them to get that understanding of what it felt like to guarantee against a strategic target. I can’t tell you how many clients that started as Precision One and are now total Precision users across our entire portfolio – or even now business outcome guarantees.”

Again, it’s “understanding what the client needs, moving them potentially into Performance and now – my true baby, our Performax…an offering where we’re measuring multiple different portions of the funnel off of one optimized linear campaign or cross-platform campaign. So now when we optimize against their target, we’re able to give back to a client just what brand awareness they drove, what search engagement they drove, and what foot traffic they drove. We’re telling them every single portion that they need to understand about how the audience is consuming their creative that’s running across our portfolio.”

Performing for Client Success

That service-oriented feature has heightened A+E’s consultative approach, letting them offer vision into how a piece of creative might drive huge brand awareness but not foot traffic, or vice versa. The network has gained favor by providing clients with valuable information that helps them comprehend their media model in its entirety and improve a piece of creative that was not producing results. By changing their creative approach, the clients can potentially increase their sales and A+E potentially increases their share of revenue going forward.

A+E is clearly winning with their unique determination to be excellent in the middle of the pack. While Olsen said, “we’re not a must must must buy,” Montenes adds, “no one is these days. So, while many are just now discovering they must lean in to customer service to make up for scale, we’re at least ahead of them in that regard.”

Montenes sums up the A+E approach perfectly saying, “We are one hundred percent about the education, and one million percent about the customer service and experience, because I’m not going to bring a client back, or get a client on, that wouldn’t come back to me again.”

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