Strata's New Gambit: All-In-One-Place Metrics System Dubbed 'Ambit'

Strata, the media-buying technology provider owned by Comcast Corp., this morning will unveil a new system enabling media planners and buyers to control which data they use to measure the effectiveness of their clients' campaigns. The system, dubbed Ambit, was originally developed for a major agency holding company that Strata executives declined to identify, and following months of beta testing and deployment, is being offered as a general release for any of the roughly 1,000 agencies that currently utilize Strata's systems to plan, buy and post the performance of their media buys.

Ambit is both a system for managing the array of data that agencies have at their disposal for measuring the results of campaigns, as well as software designed to make it easy for them to determine which data is best at measuring their effectiveness.

The system, which will be unveiled to agencies for a public tire-kicking next week at the 4As annual conference in Austin, Texas, was designed to work both with traditional media and digital media, as well as conventional measures of media return-on-investment and performance measures generally associated with online media.



The system has upwards of 50 predefined metrics built into its templates, but also allows planners and buyers and the brand groups they work with to develop their own based on their media and campaign goals. The metrics range from traditional media performance measures such as gross ratings points (GRPs), cost-per-thousand (CPMs), and reach and frequency of a campaign, to online performance marketing measures such as registration, lead generation and conversion.

Strata executives say the real benefit of the system is that planners and buyers can simultaneously look across an array of media involved in a campaign -- both traditional ones like TV, radio, print or outdoor, as well as digital ones -- and determine which are generating results based on the metrics defined by the agency and the brand.

That approach historically has been used in online performance media campaigns, and for offline direct-response advertising, where dynamic real-time, or near-time data is used to adjust campaign media strategies on-the-fly based on continuous results of a campaign's objectives.

Many agencies have developed their own, customized dashboard systems to do the same things in-house, but Strata Executive Vice President-Managing Director Joy Baer says the power of Ambit is that it offers a more disciplined and standardized approach than ad hoc systems, while enabling agencies to customize the data based on their specific brand objectives.

"The agency and advertiser's relationship is changing," says Baer. "What ambit does is it allows an agency, on behalf of an advertiser, to measure things around campaign effectiveness in a way we never did before. It used to be GRP, or CPM or reach and frequency, but now it could be things like online registrations, the percentage of sales lift, the expansion of my [brand development index] or any other tangible, real market metrics that advertisers actually use."

Ideally, Baer says planners will determine the inputs and outputs based on their unique knowledge of the brand's goals, but she says Ambit has applications and tools built into the system that enable planners and buyers to "optimize" them.

For example, she says, if a client provides actual sales data to track a campaign, it can be fed directly into Ambit, enabling planners to look at the impact their media decisions have on sales lift, and to make adjustments in real-time based on actual consumer behavior.

Baer says Ambit was designed to sit on top of existing media-buying processing systems, so it works with Strata's as well as other industry sources such as Donovan Data Systems and MediaBank.

She says agencies pay for Ambit based on the number of people who access the system.

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