Audience Guarantees, Purchase Data Color NBC, ESPN Upfront Conversations

TVMatchesAdvertisers are no longer interested in hitting demo targets alone and, leading into upfronts, media companies are baking behavioral and audience-based guarantees into their sales pitches.

Buy- and sell-side parties want to link TV programs with purchase propensity to determine whether a media exposure helped loosen purse strings.

“We’re seeing more demand to bring together business metrics of interest to advertisers with media behavior data in a permissible, privacy-centric way,” Josh Herman, VP of partner and product strategy at Acxiom, told AdExchanger.

“Increasingly, set-top box data is matched with sellers’ proprietary information and advertisers’ KPIs like sales data to determine things like brand recall or store traffic,” he added.

Marketers say it’s well overdue. Fernando Arriola, VP of media and integration for ConAgra Foods, pointed to two key segments for the Egg Beaters brand: “yellow” for health-conscious consumers looking to lower their cholesterol and “white” for typically younger protein fiends.

“While we still buy on age and sex, over time it will increasingly shift to preference,” Arriola said, speaking Wednesday at the Coalition for Innovative Media Measurement’s (CIMM’s) Cross-Platform Media Measurement and Data Summit in New York.

NBCUniversal ad sales chief Linda Yaccarino said data-driven targeting is more like selling cereal. Whereas in the past pitches focused on celebrities on a cereal box or the toy inside, marketers now focus on the quality of ingredients and health benefits. 

“We’re willing to take on more risk in the process and recognize it’s our responsibility to talk about different KPIs and guaranteed ROI,” said Yaccarino. “With the upfront in two weeks, we will do business the same way, but for customers who choose to participate [in data-driven audience] optimization, we’ll enable updates to their plan for about 30% of the inventory across the portfolio.”

NBCUniversal wants to let clients iterate at least once a quarter instead of once a year. In addition to selling by program and day part, it’s augmenting audience and behavioral guarantees based on new data it’s unlocking.

For example, the network combines set-top box data, clients’ first-party data and NBC first-party data from Comcast portfolio property Fandango to inform planning systems across all NBC networks.

Similarly, ESPN is using its 30 million-plus registered users across its digital properties to strengthen its first-party data assets, said the network’s SVP of global research and analytics, Artie Bulgrin.

“We have a lot of behavioral data we’re sitting on, like fans’ specific team interests. We also know that they’re Hispanic or bilingual,” he said. “TV is great at driving brands, but digital reaches people at a more personal level, which is why data-driven targeting is so important to us.”

ESPN has participated in a pilot project with comScore and CIMM since 2012 to understand where it could drive incremental reach beyond its core television foundation. While the network still fields a lot of age/gender requests from advertiser clients, it’s in the process of evaluating third-party data sets to incorporate into its data-management platform.

“When advertisers bring you proposals, they want to know how big is the audience, where and when these platforms are used and be able to measure the impact,” he said. “There is no advertising impact without effective exposure.”


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