Media Insights Q&A With Ellen Oppenheim

Ellen Oppenheim of Oppenheim Media Consulting began her career in media research at Y&R, and soon switched to media planning, where she benefited from the company’s excellent training program. Her background spans such a wide swath of the industry that she likes to say that that she “has done everything that one can do in media that is legitimate; bought, sold, marketed and promoted all forms of media.”  In my interview with her, Ellen talks about her work at the MPA, the impact of second screen on print, the concept of engagement, and what skill sets the next generation of media executives need to have.                                                          

Below is an excerpt from the interview, available in its complete form here.



CW: Let’s talk a bit about your work at the MPA. It has been said that the term engagement, as it applies to media, was coined by the MPA. Is that true?

EO: When I began there in the early 2000s, it was a time of great change and so much opportunity on which to capitalize. We did a lot of early work with the magazine industry, helping them with digital as online began to take off, and with smartphones and tablets as I was finishing up my tenure there. And it’s not widely known, but we were the group that put media engagement on the map. We did some strategic work with a strategic consulting company in 2004 to determine what people thought magazines’ strengths really were. We learned that the media buying community felt that a real strength of magazines was that people were paying more attention to them when they read than to other media, and so in our promotions we began to use the phrase “media engagement,” which then took off.

CW: Where do you think the print industry stands at this point?

EO : I think the print industry is in the same place that other media in the industry are in, which is in transition. There is so much change going on and so many ways in which all media companies are having to adapt. I did some work last year for a major digital publisher that has been around for a number of years, and they were mature at that point. So they were facing the same challenges as players in every other industry: How do you look at the new platforms? What does it mean for your content? What does it mean for how you promote your content to consumers? What does it mean for advertising?

CW: The transition of traditional media over to new platforms -- like print magazines able to provide digital video content -- is a potentially game-changing aspect of the current media landscape. What is going on in that space in your work?  

EO: I am doing some work now on online video. What is fascinating there is the number of different segments in online video. As you do with traditional digital banner ads, you have ad networks, you have premium content, you have new players coming in, you have traditional players entering the space. It is causing upheaval, but also a lot of opportunity both for consumers and for advertisers. And what is exciting is all the experimentation in the space, and the new ways in which various companies are trying to approach consumers and advertisers to reach new solutions.

Another fertile area is social TV analytics. A company called Ideas & Solutions brought me into a project that they were doing in this space. That is another example of something that, two years ago, people weren’t talking about at all. Now it has the potential to change the way we think about TV measurement.  Commenting on content may be seen as a form of engagement in the future. It helps to inform how advertising works in the space, how consumers respond to programming and what kind of programming is the most valuable on the programming side as well as the advertising side. It is something relatively new, and the ad industry will continue to explore how it works. 

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