The root of the network business is drawing a large audience to attract advertisers. As digital video and device fragmentation have disrupted the value proposition of traditional TV, data has become the equalizer.
This is one reason why the ABC Television Network is spearheading an initiative with 4C Insights, a Facebook and Twitter ads partner. The partnership, which ABC revealed Wednesday, is intended to connect social affinity and ad sponsorships.
“We all understand where the business is headed and data will be a huge part of it,” said Adam Gerber, VP of sales development and marketing at ABC Television. “Our recognition is that clients increasingly are going to want to leverage their data to deliver more value to their media investments and I think that’s the underlying principle we’re trying to solve against.”
4C, the result of a merger between social data company Voxsup and social data analysis firm The Echo System, has for several years developed a tool to enhance TV, radio and alternative media buys with social affinity data.
ABC and 4C will jointly roll out a syndicated tool that “goes beyond raw traffic counts and social engagement [actions] such as likes or tweets to determine how much of that activity was high value for the advertiser and [whether] people that were engaged with the show [were also] engaged with the brand.” Gerber said.
The two companies have worked on pilots before to analyze live-event and long-term brand integrations to prove the value of sponsorships bring to advertisers. Although ABC hasn’t shared its findings, the broadcaster “wanted to know how the audience was connecting with various aspects of the programming,” said Lance Neuhauser, CEO of 4C.
For example, ABC and a large brand sponsor had a long-term partnership. By deploying 4C’s algorithms, ABC saw that, prior to a sponsorship run, there was very little connection between the brand or program. There was also little overlap in engagement or affinity – the likelihood someone would re-engage with a brand unprompted.
Over two weeks, Neuhauser said, engagement with specific shows, content and talent on social mirrored the consumers’ interest in the brand advertiser. This sort of insight is particularly valuable when ABC seeks out new sponsor opportunities.
ABC’s allegiance with 4C is one of its many maneuvers designed to scale up its digital and data-driven acumen. The broadcaster recently brought on a data-driven sales chief and began unlocking programmatic reserve inventory for digital video ad sales.
And although the social beta influences direct sales sponsorships, Gerber said ABC does not isolate these initiatives from its programmatic strategies.
“Over the past 18-24 months, Geri Wang, our president of sales, has made it a mission for us to become much more ingrained in data to understand how it will change our business in the mid-to-long term,” he said. “Our programmatic initiatives are not about direct sales vs. machine buying. That’s not what we’re debating internally or even trying to pursue. … We think if we have a better understanding of the relationship between our talent and shows, viewers and advertisers, everyone wins.”
He added: “At the end of the day, our programmatic initiative is a reserve programmatic initiative where salespeople are still calling on folks at an agency talking about a strategic approach to a buy and discussing how they implement data.”