How are agencies and advertisers planning cross-platform campaigns across connected TV, other OTT, digital video and traditional TV, without the benefit of unified measurement?
Even defining or delineating the media in order to coordinate planning across them “is a little challenging — there are gray areas,” acknowledged Jared Lake, VP, digital strategy at Ocean Media, during a panel at MediaPost’s recent TV & Video Insider Summit. The session was moderated by Kevin Moeller, head of media insights and analytics for PepsiCo NA.
“If it’s a video channel relatable to TV, like NBC.com, most clients understand that that falls into the [digital] swimming lane,” Lake said. “Where it gets murky is in social. We work with a lot of ecommerce and dot-com brands that tend to have a lot of in-house teams, so even if you’re running video on Facebook, there may be KPIs at the top of the funnel that you’re optimizing to, which often becomes a discussion point.”
“I think it’s about the media experience and understanding how to find the right context that’s delivered within the right content,” said Diana Bernstein, senior vice president, managing director, video investments for Havas Media. “Once we understand that, and how it relates to our audience, it’s figuring out which channels are going to make the connection we’re looking for. We look at everything in terms of video, and there are murky waters. But once you figure out the audience and what connects with them, figuring out the channels is a lot easier.”
But the challenge is magnified by the reality that the media ecosystem is changing so rapidly — just the number of new streaming platforms being launched means that it will be very different six months from now, never mind other changes, added Juan Badiola, NA-paid media lead planner for Electronic Arts.
He noted that even gaming platforms are becoming “channels,” pointing out that Fortnite, for example, has run promotions with superhero movies and band concerts.
Another challenge, of course, is achieving reach goals given declining traditional TV viewership — and now also in the face of those splashy new, non-ad supported streaming options that will vie for consumer viewing time.
“Advertisers and agencies are going to have to work harder to make the message resonate and reach people at the right time,” summed up Lake.
“It’s also about how we define efficiency,” said Bernstein. “I come out of traditional TV, using legacy CPMs for linear television. In using TV for mass reach, you get to a point where getting that incremental reach becomes costly. So while alternative screens and ways of reaching that audience might seem a bit less efficient, the question is how much budget goes against that higher-cost linear CPM in order to get that one incremental reach point that you could get instead through second and third screens.
“I think we need to continue to have that conversation with clients, and push them forward on that. Because time spent with ads on traditional TV will continue to decrease.” It might at some point become more efficient to switch some budget into another area and “put the pieces together to create something that moves product,” rather than “continue to hit the same audience in the linear bucket,” she said.
What role does each type of medium play in a campaign?
It of course depends on the client, but “the key for us is understanding from the starting point what we’re trying to solve for — what success will look like for a given campaign,” said Bernstein. “Once we understand our assets, who the audience is and how they consume media, we figure out which medium will be the foundation. Will it be linear TV, or are we working for a client that needs to reach a younger audience, or doesn’t have enough money to be effective in linear TV? The starting point might be OTT or digital.
“We try to define the foundation and build from there. If you’re just pulling from all different areas, it gets sloppy and it’s harder to explain the plan to the client. You need to define each channel and what it’s going to serve, even to the point of measurement. We assign measurement against each channel and say, ‘At end of the campaign, we’ll show you success against each channel and bring them together as a 360-degree story despite the lack of a unified measurement.'”
“In planning, the first and most important decision is what represents your base,” said Lake. “That’s going to dictate to a large degree, as you’re using Nielsen and various planning tools, what channel gets the lion’s share of your budget, if that channel is a high-reach channel. If you start with cable TV, most of your budget is going to go to cable TV; if you start with online video or Facebook or YouTube, that platform is going to take most of your budget.
“One thing we focus on is defining the mix from a planning exercise standpoint and then, given the measurement challenges of understanding Channel A versus Channel B, the solution is to optimize within channels,” he agreed. “Most agencies have the tools to optimize within specific channels. Then over time, you can figure out whether you need to move some budget from one to another.”
“You need to define your objective and the benchmarks of the different channels you’re working with,” added Badiola. “What works on digital might not necessarily work well on digital TV. Their audiences can be very different. You have to be very clear about who you’re targeting. One size does not fit all.”
Electronic Arts "believes in the importance of data in crafting our strategies,” he said. “It’s always evolving, so there’s no set answer. But there are a lot of exciting opportunities in that regard as we continue to work on campaigns.”
Bernstein said she makes sure to stay up on data developments by staying in close contact with the agency’s chief data officer, and by “having the right people in the room.”
Years ago in the industry, “it was TV planning here and online video planning there,” she said. “Now, we have people working in each channel, and our creative people, in the room for meetings, so we can understand each other and ask questions.”
“We use a lot of traditional research tools to understand consumer consumption and changes in behavior,” said Lake. “We’ve been able to use [the consumption insights] to take a more holistic approach to planning and aligning media mix and budget allocations across channels.
“But ultimately, there’s a host of learnings that we have to go through from a brand perspective,” he concluded. “For one thing, you have to build a base of knowledge of channel-optimized creative and what works over here versus over there. That takes some time. So we have a philosophy of ‘always be testing.’ Build a foundation and then continually add to that.”