Hearts & Science Exec Megan Pagliuca Promoted To Bring Programmatic Thinking To Linear

The linear world is going programmatic, and agencies need to start applying audience strategies to their traditional buys.

To instill that mindset at Omnicom, agency Hearts & Science said Tuesday it has elevated its Chief Data Officer Megan Pagliuca to chief data and media officer.

The title change might seem nominal, but her new purview isn’t. Pagliuca will work to evolve the agency’s sales teams, so buyers of linear and traditional inventory can use the audience strategies that originated in digital.

“There’s a lot that has to happen to move to a programmatic-first approach,” Pagliuca said.

Pagliuca has already pioneered much of that work over her past three years as chief data officer at Hearts & Science. She’s spearheaded efforts with Annalect to tackle systems integration challenges in linear, reorganized the agency to support audience planning across all channels and worked with clients to ensure programmatic thinking fits with their linear incentive models.

But that’s just laying the foundation, Pagliuca said: “It’s always in test form and not the full degree of linear transformation I’d like to see.”

In overseeing media, Pagliuca will ensure that programmatic and audience planning tactics are core to Hearts & Science’s strategy for the 2020 upfronts. Instead of buying on demos and relying on publishers and panels for data, Hearts & Science will buy on audience segments defined by its own data as well as clients’ data.

Pagliuca’s goal is to create efficiencies by identifying higher-value inventory, and to give advertisers more power to reach their target audiences on TV.

“In linear, you have a lot of sell-side audience initiatives where there’s more control on the publisher side,” Pagliuca said. “By moving to programmatic, we control impression-level decisioning with data and a much smarter way of buying.”

To do audience planning in linear, Hearts & Science is forgoing traditional panel-based survey data from players like MRI and Nielsen. Instead, the agency will work with an ACR and set-top box data set that Omnicom Media Group has been building out for the past five years, which allows the agency to plan based on what viewers are actually watching rather than what they say they are watching. (ACR data is tough to scale, however, because it’s not available through all smart TV providers.)

Using a common data set will also enable Hearts & Science to use the same audience profiles across linear and digital, measure for cumulative frequency rather than added frequency and negotiate on the program level rather than just the network level.

“We can’t continue to use old-school methods,” Pagliuca said. “The data layer is much more powerful than has existed in the past.”

While Hearts & Science has tested these tactics in the upfront before, 2020 will be the first year it attempts to do so at scale. But how broadly this type of planning is applied will depend on clients’ willingness to change their decades-old processes and move past the data they’ve worked with for years in the upfront.

“We have different levels of adoption,” Pagliuca said. “Some clients are not confident enough in their own data to fully move to an audience-based approach.”

After pioneering linear audience planning at Hearts, Pagliuca plans to roll out new products that can be used by other OMG agencies. As the data-driven agency in the group, Hearts now incubates and develops new products for OMG, said CEO Erin Matts.

“This is driving not only Hearts forward, but OMG and the industry as we think about things not just in the silo of programmatic,” she said.

Hearts’ goal is to eventually bring audience planning strategies to Omnicom’s creative agencies to inform their messaging with better data and frequency management.

“If you’re just optimizing from the media side, you leave so much on the table,” Matts said.

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