Q&A: A&E Networks' Mike Greco

Mike Greco, executive vice president of strategic insights at A&E Networks, started his career at Nielsen, which gave him a firm basis in research. From there he had a stellar career on the agency side before moving to MTV, then Lifetime – and, subsequently after its merger with Lifetime, to A&E, where he heads up all the business research functions.

The business of television has certainly changed since Greco’s Nielsen days. In my interview with him, he talks about A&E’s plans, the differences between the agency side and the network side of the business, C3 and commercial measurement, connected TVs, the next generation of researchers, and also offers some predictions about the media landscape over the next few years.

Click here to see videos of the complete interview, excerpted below:

CW: What are some of the challenges of cross-platform measurement?



MG: Looking at in the short term, measurement in general is a big challenge for research at this time. This is because technology is moving faster than the measurement. And in addition, consumer behavior is moving faster than the measurement.

So we need the measurement to be able to quickly adapt to where the consumer is, as well as be able to measure all new consumer behaviors as they manifest. In this way, we can use the insights from the measurement to build appropriate programming, marketing campaigns, scheduling strategies and advertising models.

So for example: Right now there is no clean way to do reach and frequency across platforms. If I have a viewer watching “Storage Wars” on their tablet, I really don’t know if it is a new viewer or if it is someone who would have watched it on linear and they are just shifting to a different device. I don’t know if this viewer divided their viewing of the full season by watching 10 episodes on linear and two on the tablets. There is really no clean way to measure these various viewing choices accurately.

There are some systems out there that can measure buying campaigns but we need to find solutions on both the seller and buyer sides, and marry them together so that we have a consistent set of data and are talking a common language on cross-platform usage and measurement.

CW: C3 or C7? What do you think?

MG: I think eventually it could go to C7. Right now the difference between C3 and C7 for a lot of cable networks is 1% or less. It’s not a huge difference. Down the road, as we get into a world of more playback and more content being delivered on a VOD platform or online and on other devices, I think the currency could shift to C7. For this upfront however, it probably makes more sense to stay with C3 until more content is consumed after the third day.  However, I could imagine the broadcast networks will be looking to expand to C7 this upfront, since their ratings are down significantly each year and they’ll be looking to recoup some of that lost viewership by moving to C7, even if it is only 2%-3% gain for them.

CW: And in regard to C7, what about agency flighting?

MG: I think agencies and clients will have to work that out with sales organizations. It is potentially different for different categories and different advertising messages. So it will likely be on a client-by-client and a category-by-category basis.

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