Time Warner Cable Sales Chief: ‘You Can’t Buy Media In A Vacuum’

JoanGillmanThat day when data rewrites all TV business rules is not far off, said Joan Gillman, EVP and COO for Time Warner Cable’s media services.

A cultural shift is already underway at sales houses as cable companies pitch TV 2.0 products to advertiser clients.

Traditionally, buyers only got historic measurements and reporting for campaigns that ran weeks or even months earlier.

Thus, when TWC Media rolled out KernelConnect in mid-February – which aggregates data across its TV Everywhere platforms, social channels like Facebook and Twitter and third-party data sources – it sought to enable advertisers to change campaign spend/pricing in mid-flight.

“In order for this to be successful, you need to be very comfortable with data, which is a big shift for a sales organization of 700,” Gillman said. “Nielsen provides the industry the ability to use their sample to estimate how a campaign performed, but this is real-time or near real-time reporting.”

Thus, marketers could figure out potential outcomes if they were to, for instance, invest more or less in prime time or local stations – or what might happen if they change the ratio of spend going to mobile devices vs. primary screens.

Or maybe an advertiser sees strong performance for four to five weeks, but that drops off because they’re hitting the same viewers without factoring in de-duplicated reach and cross-screen message sequencing.

In this sense, KernelConnect acts as a cross-screen planning and analytics tool, allowing marketers to bulk up on or scale back on spend depending on their own performance targets and financial goals.

“You can’t run media in a vacuum,” Gillman said, adding TWC wanted to help marketers figure out what it takes to sell products, build relationships with their customers or stay current in the market relative to how they’re doing against a benchmark of other advertisers.

Gillman believes advanced data analytics will usurp historic marketing mix models, which are still used by many CPG and brand advertisers to formulate budgets.

One driver pushing this prediction forward: Marketers tend to feel the squeeze during periods of slow economic growth. “[But] they still have to drive growth on a budget that may be flat or up only 2%-3%,” Gillman said. “This is why we’re investing in tools that help marketers get smarter about where they’re spending.”

While KernelConnect is a marketing effectiveness tool, TWC Media also offers advanced targeting through its Audience Select platform, launched in 2014, to go beyond generalities in third-party data sets.

Audience Select can be used for data segmentation around custom audiences or “TV Tribes,” as TWC calls them, combining viewership and psychographic attributes (for instance, a health-conscious “chief household officer” in an affluent geo).

Think of TWC’s custom audience profiles as one data source KernelConnect can tap into. TWC also aggregates viewership data on some 16 million customers in markets like New York and Los Angeles, with access to 55-75 networks and hundreds of local stations, in addition to behavioral/web data and social impressions via third parties.

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