Cynopsis Media Presents: Advanced TV Advertising and the New Power of Local



Cynopsis Presents: Advanced TV Advertising and the New Power of Local
By Cathy Applefeld Olson
What happens to the advertising equation when television’s scale and viewers’ emotional connection to brand-safe premium content combines with the data, targeting and measurement capabilities of digital?
Brands are in the midst of finding out as this Venn diagram opens new avenues for consumer engagement and action.
“Coordinating audiences between our Tier 1—national—and Tier 2—regional—team has been a big enhancement to our strategy for 2020 specifically for addressable TV,” Lisa Schoder, head of US Media Intelligence and Strategic Planning at Ford Motor Co., tells Cynopsis. “For us it’s important to make sure we have this coordination for the best consumer experience and to help manage frequency and effectiveness as much as possible.”
That coordination effort is top of mind at the newly minted TV advertising sales and tech company Ampersand, formerly NCC Media. “At end of day, a marketer doesn’t really care about a given MVPD vs. another MVPD,” says Andrew Ward, president of Ampersand, which reaches 85 million households across more than 150 networks. “They care about delivering scale against their brand audience. So our job is being able to stitch together all of those distribution points, owners and affiliates, to bring the broadest possible scale to our customers.”
Ward notes, “It used to be very easy for a brand to put a media plan together. They’d put a signpost up in primetime television and expect the audiences to come to the brand. Now human attention is a scarce economic resource. So now brands need to find, follow and measure audiences in new and unique ways. That couldn’t happen in an analog environment.”
Top of mind at global firm UM as the agency and brands navigate the new ecosystem, according to Evy Galiatsatos, SVP, group partner, integrated investment, is continuing to find the right audience using the latest data and insights available and being mindful of the environment in which all clients messaging will be viewed. “Accountability has and continues to be paramount,” she tells Cynopsis. “Access to more data and insights increases that accountability and we are all excited about that.”
The already robust shift in content distribution and consumption is poised only to amplify. It’s a transformation that gave rise to the recent name change for Ampersand, initially founded in 1981 by owners Charter, Comcast and Cox, and is giving rise to a cultural shift in brand messaging.
“The name Ampersand is a nod to that connective tissue of ‘and,’ and rooted in the idea of how do we work more collaboratively with one another with an eye to growing the TV ecosystem against the competitive threat of digital providers—the Googles, the Facebooks and so forth,” Ward says.
Rich Calacci, chief revenue officer at Viacom-owned AVOD service Pluto TV, likens the evolution to that of landline to smartphone. “A landline and a smartphone can both make ‘calls,’ but a smartphone can do much more. In the same fashion, advertising on OTT feels like traditional advertising, but in actuality in can do so much more because of targeting, etc.” he says. “It’s a more customizable experience.”

Growing Pains, Growing Solutions


Of course any tectonic shift is not without its growing pains.
The concept of scale in today’s market, for example, “creates some level of anxiety with clients and brands and agencies as they see the diminution of ratings accelerating faster than the diminution of demand,” Ward says. “So you see CPM increases in the Upfront marketplace and say, ‘Hey, ratings are declining but rates are increasing. What’s going on?’ That’s because at the end of the day, TV still provides that reach.”
“Buying media within the OTT space will fluctuate based on how audiences are consuming video content,” notes Ford’s Schoder. “Our video strategy is a holistic audience approach.”
In conversations with agencies and brands, Ward says he’s identified three consistent must-haves on their short lists: scale, consistency and simplicity.
Delivering on those measures has led Ampersand to achieve strong recent campaign results, including a 72 percent lift in travel rewards cards opened for a client via an addressable VOD campaign, and a 49 percent addressable linear and VOD conversion lift for a hotel brand seeking to increase bookings.
“They want media efficiency and brand outcome, tied to the full funnel from brand awareness to brand engagement to purchase/sales data,” he says. “We aren’t going to move away from TVs value proposition—we want to double-down on that—but we think there’s an opportunity to layer on better data, better targeting and better measurement solutions.”
The measurement piece remains a work in progress, as brands drill down on which metrics make sense for a given campaign. “The biggest gap for Ford in this space is managing frequency across our full video strategy for Linear TV + Full Episode players,” Schoder says. “It would be important for us to be able to look at frequency across linear TV plus CTV—both direct and programmatic—plus addressable TV.”
Ward says it’s important to not understate the importance of simplifying the process for clients in a market where options abound. “Their margins are tighter than ever and if we make it complex and labor-intense, they’re going to go to the digital guys. Facebook makes it very easy and TV doesn’t always,” he says.



Local Motion


As well as revolutionizing advertising on a national/network level, the evolution of OTT, addressable and advanced TV delivery of premium video is busting ceilings in the local ad market. Ampersand recently introduced a new local audience planning capability, which collects, parses and synchronizes data from its owner companies so clients can better build local audience plans.
“The local TV marketplace is a $25 billion business, and that business is going to get flipped upside down as we bring better data and measurement solutions into that environment,” Ward says. “The local market still defines audiences on an age/gender basis. It would be anachronistic in my lifetime, to think we’re going to plan, buy and measure media against, say, Adults 25-54 or 18-49.”
While Pluto TV’s Calacci notes the company has a sole ad “pool” since it doesn’t have a local dependence or restriction, “we clearly believe OTT is a high-growth market and geo-targeting is core to that growth.” Pluto’s mix of national vs. local ads varies by month, content vertical and channel. He adds, “but we have a wide selection of local, regional and national advertisers on the platform. We are seeing growth across all three segments.”

Status Quo = No-Go


With the industry evolving at the speed of a gigabit, the biggest potential pitfall for players on all sides of the equation may be simply sitting still.
“The greatest challenge is still awareness, and possibly an adherence to the status quo,” Pluto’s Calacci says. “OTT is still relatively new, the same way cable advertising was in the ‘80s. Being innovative is immensely important, but not everyone jumps in with both feet.”
“The last seismic change across the TV industry was the expansion of cable inventory,” notes Ward. “That transformed the TV business fundamentally, and at the time a lot of people resisted cable. I think we’re at that same intersection now as we think about the next chapter of change, and the people who will succeed are those who are open to experiment.”

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