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Three Keys to Approaching Fragmentation in TV

Taxes are not usually a subject people are eager to discuss. However, H&R Block has leveraged a number of savvy advertising tactics to reach their customers during this less-than-fun time of year – even amid the pandemic. In a conversation between Andrew Martinson, Senior Marketing Manager, H&R Block, and Jes Santoro, SVP, Advanced TV and Video at Cadent, Andrew shares how years of preparation enabled H&R Block to act flexibly and pivot quickly, as well as how they’re approaching today’s TV landscape. 

Catch a video of the full session, and a recap of the conversation, below.

This year’s tax season was unique for a number of reasons, namely, because for the first time in recent history, the deadline shifted back. While this may have been a relief for consumers, it had the potential to wreak havoc on businesses such as H&R Block. Unlike other financial institutions, their messaging has a definitive sell-by date. As Andrew described, “we have such a small window of time to make an impact on people’s lives and our business being accessed.” For H&R Block, at a time when they would typically be using the first quarter of the year to drive consumers to their brick and mortar locations, lockdowns and a new tax deadline meant the need for many changes and quick turnarounds. 

Fortunately, H&R Block’s alignment with strategic creative and technology partners allowed for nimble changes in their advertising plan. For instance, limitations on retail meant foot traffic was no longer the primary KPI. Instead, messaging shifted to, “We’re going to talk to you about our DIY component, or virtual offerings. While you can still get served by a tax pro, but in a different way.” 

When the conversation transitioned to the subject of fragmentation, Jes asked, as viewers continue to be more diluted across an ever-growing number of distribution platforms to find content, how does that affect the way that you are handling that channel-mix planning?

According to Andrew, he’s found a three-pronged approach to handling fragmentation across the TV landscape:

  1. Start with your KPI – What is the primary KPI of your business? This goes across channels. It’s not just television. It’s not just programmatic. It’s not just CRM, but it’s a KPI for the business. Whether you want to measure site traffic based off of an ad that’s played, or you want to measure cross-frequency, or you want to measure reach across different platforms, are you doing something on OTT and CTV that you want to measure against what your partners are doing? Understanding just how those measurements work and what they mean to your business is critical. 
  2. Open yourself up to learning – No matter your role within your organization, take the time to understand the different “fragments” that exist. Don’t limit yourself to what you already know. Where are people watching and how are you talking to them? It’s important for advertisers to be aware of all the players out there. You should also be willing to wear more than one hat – marketers should be no strangers to doing more than one job. When it comes to TV advertising, test out a new capability, take a meeting to learn what else is out there.
  3. Work with partners you trust – You need to know your limitations. Find partners who provide valuable insights and can serve as area experts. However, don’t be afraid to push back. As a brand, it’s still your job to stay involved and ask questions.

At the end of the day, it’s also important to be willing to reevaluate your KPIs. Andrew goes on to explain, “As our programmatic peers did a number of years back, you can pendulum swing that thing a little bit too far. And I think there’s a real risk of saying, ‘Oh wow, I can now look at the measurements that could really help me optimize my television’s bias. I can see programs and networks and types of programs that my customers are engaging with. They engage more, they engage more often and they get better. That’s amazing. That’s something that we haven’t had access to,’ …but the caution there is to not rely so much on that – that it pigeonholes you.” 

Over time, TV fragmentation will become less and less of an issue. The means of buying linear and OTT will become more seamless. The question is, will your organization be prepared for cross-channel buying? 

Cadent has a solution. Reach out today to speak with Cadent about our linear and OTT offerings. 

Learn more about the future of data-driven TV advertising in our series, “Coming to Terms with TV Ad Terms.”

Why Broadcast TV Is More Relevant than Ever

During our Future of TV summit, Rick Beispel, SVP, National Sales & Strategy, Cadent, hosted Steve Lanzano, President and CEO of the TVB, and TD Dixon, Chief Growth Officer, Post Consumer Brands, for a panel on How Broadcast TV Helps Marketers During the Pandemic and Beyond. Catch a video of the full session, and a recap of the conversation, below.

This year has been a big one for broadcast, especially for political dollars. Steve said that during the midterm season in 2018, about $3.2 billion was spent on local broadcast TV, compared to $4.2 billion political is on track for this year.

Below is a lightly edited and condensed version of Rick, TD and Steve’s conversation. 

Rick: The election has been meaningful to TVB association members – how was this political cycle particularly unusual?

Steve: You need timing flexibility and you need creative flexibility. Then you need scale, right? As TD will tell you, if you need to reach a lot of people to move product. That is exactly the game plan that marketers have and why they use local broadcast, TV and political, and exactly the game plan that national advertisers had this year in terms of getting their messages out… So having flexibility, having trust, having scale in premium environments has really been the game plan for all marketers this year and not just the political market.

Rick: There was no playbook for the past few months. The family landscape, which TD serves at Post Consumer Brands, has been altered by stay-at-home orders, virtual schooling and more. How did you alter your approach to better serve your customers?

TD: For us, there were two fundamental consumer behavior shifts. One was what we call retrench…the fear of the pandemic, the uncertainty, created a dynamic that caused people to cocoon back home. The second we call reset, which gets to the uncertainty of the future which resets the shopping behaviors and even the way people decided to spend their money. As marketers and as manufacturers, how do we deliver against those fundamental changes?

Because this notion of safety was such an important part of the new consumer dynamic, comfort brands were important. So we try to leverage brands like Honey Bunches of Oats and Grape Nuts, really tried-and-true brands. We leveraged those brands as our front runners with those consumers.

To deal with the reset, this is where value has taken on a whole other level of prominence, and we’re fortunate that we own the value space within the cereal category with our MOM brand. And again, we really focused on reinforcing that value.

As marketers and as manufacturers, how do we deliver against those fundamental changes? Because this notion of safety was such an important part of the new consumer dynamic, comfort brands were important.” – TD Dixon, Chief Growth Officer, Post Consumer Brands

Rick: With the adaptability that you mentioned, were there localized initiatives to take advantage of particular markets?

TD: It goes back to this notion of trust, right? Not only are consumers looking for brands they can trust, they’re looking to their news outlets and vehicles where they get their information. We definitely were much more hyper-targeted within local markets. There’s a lot of regionality that we have with our brand, but even more so in this hyper-politicized, hyper-polarized time, being able to focus in those local markets and  attach yourself to local entities, as well as your local news broadcast [became important].

Rick: How does an advertiser tap into local sports passion? I think it’s a huge opportunity for marketers.

Steve: Absolutely. Not only professional football, but college football. The Giant games in New York are doing big ratings, right? They might not do a big rating outside of New York. In fact, the Giant-Cowboy game in both Dallas and New York, did you huge ratings. Tapping into that passion is gold for a marketer, and on a local level, doing a promotion with a station, really can up your partnership with that sport.

Rick: The TV marketplace is certainly marked by fragmentation and cord-cutting technology. How are you viewing CTV and OTT?

TD: It’s funny because someone asked, “is TV going away?” I think we can all agree that TV’s not going away, it just had a lot of babies. So, as marketers, we have to determine which are the right babies for us to focus on. And that’s what we’ve done. We spend a lot of time trying to understand not just who the “who” is, but what is it that they want to hear?

I look at it as more of an opportunity than as a challenge because, you know, even though we, we can all remember way back when it was three networks and you just went out there and did a shotgun approach. Now it’s more of a sniper approach – you can not only be more targeted, you can also be more relevant with that specific group.

Rick: TD, you mentioned on our prep call that “People have fallen back in love with TV and that appointment viewing with TV is starting to happen again.” What does falling back in love with TV mean to Post Consumer Brands and the audiences you serve?

TD: When sports live sports came back on TV, that was such a relief for people and a release for people. Those eyeballs are now coming back and leveraging that, albeit on a local level, is really the way for marketers to re-emerge again. One of the things that we have to be conscious of is maintaining that share of voice. Because people aren’t necessarily going into the stores as much as they used to, you have to almost get the decision in their mind before they ever actually make that transaction. And so that’s where TV has been an efficient medium for us to be able to do that.

Rick: And Steve, the local broadcasters have a lot of in the CTV arena. Sinclair has STIRR, and Nexstar has the LKQD platform. It seems like hyper-local CTV is getting traction.

Steve: There’s an insatiable appetite by advertisers for over the top inventory, and there’s not a lot out there right now. Being able to provide that scale and that hyper targeting in terms of over-the-top is a gold mine. And as we get into the new next-gen broadcast product, ATSC 3.0, we’ve been getting more targeted on not only connected TVs, but also mobile devices.

Rick: At the ANA Masters of Marketing conference last week, there was discussion around the importance of brand purpose. TD, Post Consumer Brand’s purpose it to “make better happen.” How did you embody that mantra this year?

TD: For our consumers, obviously cereal is a is a staple of households and becoming even more of a staple of again as people come home. And given all the stay at home orders, all the business closures, all the unemployment, we donated millions of dollars to food banks and hunger relief organizations, Second Harvest and Feeding America, to enable people to have a bowl of cereal every morning. We’re really proud of that.

Maybe what makes me even more proud is what we did for our employees and particularly our frontline workers and our manufacturing personnel. One of the things that our CEO decided to do was offer significant bonuses for people who are willing to work above and beyond in order to keep up with that demand.

Learn more about the future of data-driven TV advertising in our series, “Coming to Terms with TV Ad Terms.”

Reaching Fragmented Audiences with OTT and CTV

Dana Bhargava, Head of Experience Planning & Media, Sanofi Consumer Health, took the virtual stage at Cadent’s Future of TV summit to speak with Jamie Power, Chief Data Officer, Cadent, about getting started with OTT and CTV, reaching fragmented audiences and much more.

Catch a video of the session, plus a full recap of the conversation, below.

Jamie mentioned that during the pandemic, people became more health conscious. How exactly did Dana’s brand supported that behavioral shift?

“Our goal at Sanofi has always been about empowering people to take control of their health,” Dana said. And in trying times, it becomes even more important to communicate that message. Sanofi’s OTC products were impacted by pantry loading earlier in the pandemic, and the brand had to make sure that its distribution channels were clear and that its products were available for customers who depend on them.

The pandemic has accelerated consumer behavior in certain ways, some unexpected, Dana said, putting marketers on their toes: “It’s both scary and exciting at the same time because it really stimulates change within an organization and sets an organization on fire to go chase those areas where we know we’re not going to be able to keep up.”

Reaching fragmented audiences across screens

With so much fragmentation today, Jamie, asked, was Dana satisfied with her insight into understanding audiences across screens, whether it be reach building or frequency building. Dana replied no, that with all the wall gardens out there, “we live in a world where we really don’t really understand duplication at all,” adding, “Some duplication isn’t bad, some frequency isn’t bad. I think there’s work to be done there. Certainly I think we really need to understand that. CTV OTT is just one part of it.”

This whole idea of bringing data to TV is really the start of evolution of all of our channels to make them all more accountable. And I think we have to work as an industry to start breaking down some of these walled gardens.” -Dana Bhargava, Head of Experience Planning & Media, Sanofi Consumer Health

Ad environment is key

Sanofi has always had strong guidelines on content, Dana said, and some those content guidelines don’t exist in other channels. And this year, as social media platforms struggle with brand safety, the issues becomes increasingly important to Sanofi, which Dana said could continue to drive shifts back to looking for those environments where you can have some kind of guarantee of where an ad is actually showing up.

Why buy an ad in a skippable environment? For many marketers, it comes down to going where their audiences go. Dana said, “Audiences still continue to be there [in skippable ad environments]… Audiences are there, and there’s content in which you want to align with.” Sanofi thinks about using the first three seconds of its ads in that context really carefully, and they consider the  specific customer journey stage the person might be in.

Building a foundation for OTT and CTV within a brand

Sanofi’s approach to investing in specific channels, Dana said, is one that is investment agnostic and aims to understand consumers and their consumer journeys, being able to deliver against what an audience is looking for as opposed to having a sort of siloed approach to planning.

Dana said she thinks about using CTV and OTT to increase reach against audiences that might be harder to find in linear TV today: “CTV OTT can be a great add to driving incremental reach against all those precision tactics that you have,” adding that the medium can create quality environments that you want to run in, more opportunities for you to put longer-form content out in front of unskippable content, and importantly, increased scale against a lot of those precision audiences.

Any emerging medium is going to have a ramp up period while marketers try it out and decide if it’s worth the investment. Being a champion for mediums like OTT, CTV or addressable TV within an organization can be difficult, especially if it’s outside of the traditional box.

If you can really focus on what you’re trying to accomplish and what the role of your channels are,  it will almost tell its own story as to why you’re [trying the new medium],” Dana said. If your goal is upper funnel awareness, then you need to drive reach and share of voice against your competitors, which you can’t do successfully without other carefully orchestrated tactics. Dana added, “Contextualizing the spend against what its role is always helps to have those conversations internally.”

Learn more about the future of data-driven TV advertising in our series, “Coming to Terms with TV Ad Terms.”

The Future of Identity in TV: A Conversation with Tegna’s Kurt Rao and Cadent’s Tim Jenkins

With the pandemic came growing local news viewership – particularly during afternoons and evenings, as well as a resurging interest among marketers to merge their linear and OTT campaigns. In fact, according to a recent TVB report, researchers found that TV viewership among key demographics increased an average of 36% year-over-year, between the months of March and July.

To find out how data-driven solutions are fueling the TV industry’s evolution, Tim Jenkins, EVP, Head of Audience & Identity Solutions at Cadent spoke with Kurt Rao, SVP, Chief Technology Officer at TEGNA – the media company that operates countless local news affiliates, television stations and OTT channels – delving into what TV looks like from the inside, out. 

Catch a replay of the session, plus a recap, below.

In recent months, consumers and marketers have become acutely aware of the value of local news. As Kurt describes it, “As global as this pandemic is, its impact has been incredibly local.”

As Kurt Rao, SVP, Chief Technology Officer at TEGNA, describes it, “As global as this pandemic is, its impact has been incredibly local.”

This of course means that audiences are turning to local news stations, such as those owned by TEGNA, to find out what’s happening in their communities. 

Over the course of their conversation, a major topic of discussion was the importance of audience targeting and measurability, for both broadcast and OTT. As TEGNA built out their own in-house product, TEGNA Attribution, they were eager to partner with Cadent to leverage its identity solution. Identity allows networks to get one step closer to creating data-driven content that engages the audience. 

When you combine complementary digital platforms, or as Kurt put it, “find the breadcrumbs that go together,” you are able to create a more unified view of the consumer. From a measurement standpoint, Kurt explains that it comes down to how accurate your predictions can be when planning. Comparing linear and OTT, he says, “The goal is to be as deterministic as possible. And certainly on your digital platforms, you can be a lot more deterministic than on some of your linear platforms, where it’s a lot more probabilistic.”

According to Kurt, the “Holy Grail” for networks would be to get to the point where targeting allows for personalized content. For example, Kurt suggests that if you know, “if the audience that we’re reaching PhD-level audience or a high school-level audience, you can train your on-air talent on the kinds of words they use, the number of words per minute, and whether they’re truly resonating with the audience.” The idea that Identity could influence “what content we make, even before we make,” has the potential to revolutionize TV production. 

Another notable subject Kurt and Tim touched on was the potential for cross-channel linear and OTT campaigns. What they agreed upon is that the proof is there, but adoption has been slow. Kurt explains that linear TV buyers are used to traditional methods of buying, while digital buyers are very data-driven. Consequently, because the “real promise” of OTT is in leveraging richer data sets, it will take time and education before traditional TV buyers are ready for a true audience buy. 

The future of TV could take many paths. Offerings such as Cadent’s identity solution provide a gateway to data-driven buying for linear and OTT buyers alike. In the next few years, it will be up to networks and their technology partners to find innovative ways to make cross-channel buying less cumbersome, improving the pipes and mechanisms that exist today. 

Learn more about the future of data-driven TV advertising in our series, “Coming to Terms with TV Ad Terms.”

The Future of Reaching TV Audiences Will Be About Adaptability

Jim Tricarico, President of Sales and CRO of Cadent, kicked off our Future of TV Virtual Summit today with a simple, but clarifying example of how TV is changing: the kids who watched massively successful programs like The Kids’ Choice Awards 15 years ago have grown up, and they’re watching TV across many different devices and platforms.

And this year, TV has evolved at an even faster clip, accelerated by the pandemic.

More than 25 million people have cut the cord on linear TV, shifting viewing to various streaming services. So what are advertisers to do when TV has grown from broadcast and cable, to what feels like an endless stream (pun intended) of new acronyms? A veteran of the TV industry, Jim Tricarico, President of Sales and CRO of Cadent, posed a new question: “TV is not dead – it is far from dead. But what does TV mean today?” 

And that’s where we begin. TV in 2020 is a far cry from the TV of thirty years ago, let alone the past five. Jim was joined by Cathy Shaffner, Chief Investment Officer of Empower, the “Unholding Company,” to discuss how cross-channel TV campaigns have the power to help advertisers reach their target audiences. 

According to Jim, the TV marketplace currently offers three powerful features: flexibility, the ability to allow advertisers to shift budgets to follow their audiences; addressability, the refined targeting made possible by the advent of things like the device graph and viewer graph; and measurability, the results-driven media buying based on business outcomes of previous campaigns.

Consequently, Shaffner has found that, “It’s all about now finding the audience through that content versus through the channel.” No longer are advertisers going to reach their audience by simply “buying one night of TV or two nights of TV.” The landscape has changed and advertisers have come to expect flexibility, addressability and measurability. 

How can TV provide those all-important attributes with a fragmented landscape? Cathy proposes three keys to combating fragmentation:

Finding the right audience – Cathy said Empower spends an incredible amount of time working with its partners to marry robust and actionable first-party data with third-party data to “really identify the best customer.” 

Content is always king – “Marketing to your audience through the content that they’re consuming – and not through the channel or through the device that they’re using.”

Report to the report – “The business that we drive is all based on the measurement of everything that we do. …it’s not about reach or frequency anymore, as much as it’s about finding the audience in the right moment within their customer journey.” 

In addition to combatting fragmentation, transparency is another hurdle for marketers to overcome. As advertisers demand better reporting, they also expect more transparency into how their campaigns are run.

Cathy Shaffner, Chief Investment Officer, Empower: “Working alongside great partners like Cadent, to make sure that we set the rules of engagement upfront, making sure that the data’s putting us in the right place, helps us with brand safety and helps us with making sure we’re in the right environment for our clients.” 

Still, it’s important to note that, like most things, TV has experienced a dramatic shift within the past few months. As Jim mentions, “Before COVID, everybody was projecting five years out, before you saw a major change and shift from linear TV to OTT.” As we all know, that is no longer the case. The pandemic accelerated the shift to new modes of TV in ways no one predicted. 

“From an audience perspective, I think we’re going to have, as an industry, to really figure out what that new normal is based on what the pandemic has done. It’s going to leave a lasting impact on media consumption. Just think of ourselves as we’re sitting here having this this panel… This is going to become a new normal, even three years from now, as things change and get back in the future as a society, and we’re going to demand change as consumers in how we view the content,” said Cathy. 

And for Empower and other agencies, Cathy said, adaptability will be key – where you work, when you work, how you go to market, how you use data to find audiences, how you seek out content and how you change as the world changes.

Ultimately, the pandemic has raised more questions for the TV industry than it has answered. But in spite of the rapid pace of change, one thing is clear – TV isn’t going anywhere. While it may shift from screen to screen, platform to platform, video will continue to find new ways into consumers’ lives and advertisers’ media plans. 

Learn more about the future of data-driven TV advertising in our series, “Coming to Terms with TV Ad Terms.”

Fireside Chat Replay: Danone’s Surbhi Martin and Cadent’s Jes Santoro

This week, Cadent SVP, Advanced TV and Video Jes Santoro hosted a fireside chat with Danone VP of Marketing Surbhi Martin. They discussed Surbhi’s exciting work with Danone’s Two Good yogurt brand, Danone’s commitment to “walking the talk around purpose” and how the brands Surbhi serves are responding to changes in consumer behavior during COVID and beyond.

Watch the full conversation below.