Real-Time With Mark Lieberman, Viamedia's New CEO, On Data-Driven TV Ads

Viamedia is expected to today announce the appointment of Mark Lieberman as president and CEO. Lieberman was co-founder and CEO of TRA, a television and Big Data analytics, software and research technology firm which was recently acquired by TiVo.

Given his background, the appointment of Lieberman as CEO is indicative Viamedia’s focus on data-driven advertising, which is also in line with what others in the space are doing.

GroupM this week announced it has created a new unit to accelerate the shift, including for TV practices, from old school media-buying to data-driven audience targeting.

Much of the focus in the shift from media-buying to audience-buying has centered on the role of automation, especially programmatic platforms, exchanges, etc.,” Media Daily News wrote of the GroupM announcement. “But the other part -- the shift taking place in the way TV audience targeting is changing due to the availability of an unprecedented amount of data -- is, in many ways, a much bigger and more fundamental shift in the way media is planned, bought and evaluated by advertisers and agencies,” it added.



Viamedia has its own programmatic exchange in the form of Placemedia, which aggregates unsold and undersold inventory from cable networks, broadcasters, cable providers and other TV providers.

See below for Lieberman’s thoughts on the transition from “small” data-driven TV advertising to “big” data-driven TV advertising, whether or not the marriage between data, automation and TV is filled with smoke and mirrors, and where TV budgets fit as cross-channel gets trendy.

RTM Daily: Buying TV ads is “old school,” so what's the tug and pull like when it comes to introducing Big Data and automation?

Mark Lieberman: One of the nice things at Viamedia is that we’ve already started focusing on data-driven buying for the core business and the programmatic buying platform. I’m not coming in to try and turn the ship around, so to speak.

The technology, like data, is really just a means to an end.

The end here is not to be in the Big Data business or to be a technology purveyor -- the end is to be a platform or solution [to help] reach the right audience and consumers. Tech and data are a means to that end.

RTMD: There has been a lot of talk recently about data-driven buying and automation for TV ads. For online ad-buying, you see charts of exponential growth, but the fine print at the bottom sometimes says something like: “Only represents 5% of spend.” It can seem like hot air. Is that the case here, or is data-driven TV buying for real?

Lieberman: It’s the future of all advertising. It has been [real] on the Internet.

Television is a much more engaging medium; it is the place you want to be able to reach your consumers. TV has always depended on data, albeit smaller data. Now you have a lot more.

What the Internet has taught us is that it’s all about accountability. It reminds one of the old John Wanamaker line -- about how half of what you spend on advertising is wasted, but you don't know which half.

You’re seeing advertisers come back into TV [because the medium] is more accountable. More dollars flowing into TV is good for the industry.

RTMD: Cross-channel campaigns are “in” right now, and it makes sense given the number of screens users are on. It’s especially true in video. Automation technologies are becoming available for TV, and brands are using them to fulfill their cross-channel campaign goals. So wouldn’t making TV just another channel in a cross-channel campaign be moving dollars away from the big screen? Isn’t your goal to keep TV dollars in TV?

Lieberman: You’re reaching me on day one, so in terms of our overarching strategy, stay tuned.

At the end of the day -- what is television? I’m in my office looking at a 30-inch screen watching TV. I will put a spreadsheet on it in a few minutes. Then I’ll search the Internet on it.

When my 10-year-old puts on the programming she wants, she doesn’t know that programming came from the Internet, a Website, cable, broadcast, etc. -- she’s just putting her favorite program up on a screen.

I believe all of that will continue to be supported by advertising; people don’t want to pay higher subscription fees. Advertising is going to be critical.

In the scope of cross-platform: We have over 10,000 advertising customers, and they like the idea of sight, sound and motion (video). I’m not sure they really care which screen the consumer sees the ad on, as long as it’s driving sales.

RTMD: Thank you for your time.

1 comment about "Real-Time With Mark Lieberman, Viamedia's New CEO, On Data-Driven TV Ads".
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  1. Henry Blaufox from Dragon360, January 8, 2014 at 12:51 p.m.

    As granular data about TV viewing habits and audience traits becomes more available, how much conflict will there be with the traditional way of buying and selling air time? The old way has been lucrative for the sell side and their sales professionals, so they are likely to resist change. To what extent can the new players overcome that resistance or adjust their methods to reduce it and speed adoption of the new technology?

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