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Takeaways From the 2018 TV Data Summit: “The Audience Is Now in Charge”

November 13th, 2018   ||    by Charlene Weisler

As Tim Hanlon, founder and CEO at the Vertere Group, explained at the 2018 TV Data Summit, the media business is going through a transformative time. TV grapples with data as tech navigates strategies and solutions. “It is revenge of the nerds,” he concluded, “leading to an amazing future of data and targeting.”

Panelists at the NYC Television Week event offered their insights:

Data Changes Everything

Data is taking on greater importance from content creation to campaign deliveries. More aspects of the business are touched by data through machine learning and artificial intelligence. As technology advances, it’s possible to dynamically insert different advertising messages to individual households based on audience profiles and viewing behaviors.

“Data is everything,” stated Eric Schenk, a technical director at Google Cloud. But data is often fragmented, clustered in silos and walled gardens. Analysis, depending on data sets, algorithms, and applications, often leads to different results and conclusions. Machine learning’s capabilities help address these challenges. These capabilities include video intelligence (enabling better viewer content identification and curation), translation (allowing for fast global expansion of content offerings), and custom data extensions (offering new ways to analyze and gain insights from data sets).

Business Pivots

Previously, “Sales used to be the last mile, but now it’s content,” Hanlon warned. Schenk added, “Audience is king,” requiring a pivot to audiences and what they want in content.

Data is now used at the start of the media pipeline, tagged and identified for content creation. It also uncovers stories from content, discovers new audiences, and protects content investments from piracy. Schenk offered some advice, “It is the early days. Find cheap ways to experiment. See what is happening in adjacent media like gaming and music. How they succeed and where did they fail. The audience is now in charge so focus on choice personalization and maximize consumer experience.”

TV Is Hard to Define and Measure

For James McNamara, a senior vice president at Nielsen, “TV is inherently long-form quality content,” no matter where it airs. But the availability of quality TV content across platforms makes it difficult to measure; digital and linear use different data sets and success metrics.

Further, viewing behavior varies depending on the device, from the co-viewing experience of a large TV screen to a highly personal one-to-one experience of a smartphone.

Thankfully, media organizations have worked on developing universal content and ad codes to facilitate tracking across platforms. CIMM specifically has focused on this initiative for several years and has recently made progress. “We are moving away from a closed ecosystem to a new world of granular TV data,” announced Jane Clarke, CEO and managing director at CIMM. Companies are working on cross-platform content labeling standards using watermarking or fingerprinting to embed into content. Each technique has its pros and cons, relying on advanced technology to facilitate content identification.

For those of us trying to balance the targeting needs of clients with the expectations and desires of consumers, there are opportunities and pitfalls. The TV Data Summit highlighted that working together, even as frenemies, enables the industry to maximize media value for viewers and marketers.

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