Media Insights Q&A With Simulmedia's Jack Smith

Jack Smith has the unusual title of Chief Product Officer for Simulmedia, which means that he determines what systems the company should build. And yet, it is not IT; his work touches all aspects of the business, such as research, sales and marketing. Jack, who comes to Simulmedia with an extensive experience in radio, the Internet and television, shares his views on a range of issues, from Big Data in TV advertising, set-top-box data in measurement, Connected TV, privacy issues and upcoming trends in the media landscape.

The complete interview can be viewed here.  Below is an excerpt:

CW: Jack, you just completed a seminal study called “Early Lessons Learned in Applying Big Data to TV Advertising.” Can you please give us a two-minute recap of the study findings?

JS: Sure. We always talk about what we can do today and what is possible, what things are happening in data management, IT and technology that can impact television advertising and our understanding of television advertising. This study covered some of the lessons we learned in the past two years in analyzing set-top-box data and our dataset.



Some of the things we have seen include quantifying that there are in fact light viewers out there. Finding where those light viewers are is important, as TV viewing continues to fragment.

As consumers go to smaller, lower-rated networks and less-well-measured dayparts as well as new devices such as iPads and online, all of that has an effect on TV ad campaigns. We tried to quantify [these trends, looking] at the effect [they’re] having on television advertising campaigns. 

We saw that, because there is this fragmentation, there is also a reach problem. Reach is actually declining for major advertisers. If you are an advertiser who is reaching 60% to 80% of consumers on television, a lot of that spend is concentrated on heavy viewers.

That is really no fault of the agencies or the marketers themselves; the techniques to understand these audiences haven’t developed and evolved over the past few years. Part of that is because the data we can now use [is like set-top-box data and ] data from Facebook and Google which has only recently become available. The granularity of these data enables us to analyze more deeply than we ever have been able to do before.

CW: How you think Connected TVs will impact the business?

JS: For me, having a background in the internet, Connected TV is very interesting, because it is another way to look at television viewing -- and not just television viewing as when we think about people consuming regular video content. We need to look at other kinds of applications like social media applications that can now happen on television. We would love to see that grow.

We understand that most of the TV that are being shipped toward the end of this year and at the beginning of next year now have the ability to connect. I think what will really drive that market are killer apps that sit on top of the TVs that will make people want to connect their TV. We are optimistic that we will see one or two of those in the next couple of years. 

CW: So in this media ecosystem, how do would you say this ad purchasing model will evolve -- and how has it evolved since you started in the industry?

JS: It is interesting. A lot of the tools that are being used today are tools that have been developed for a world where there wasn’t a lot of fragmentation. If you look at reach of ad campaigns, it’s been declining probably since 1983. 

Better measurement means that actual ad spend on television will actually increase, because it is very difficult for a brand advertiser to get the same effect online as quickly as they can get it on television. So I think that change is coming.

If that is where we are today -- with the beginning of better measurement and a little bit more accountability and a different view into ad campaigns -- ultimately it will be much more like an infrastructure that powers internet advertising where there is addressability, and you are better able to target individuals, households or zones than you can today.



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