Turner: Programmatic Has The Highest ROI When It Has A Built-In Measurement Loop

turnerTurner will speak at AdExchanger's PROGRAMMATIC I/O Conference in New York on Oct. 27.

Turner took a bold position when it promised that by 2020 more than 50% of its inventory would be transacted against audience guarantees.

Since then, CNN, TNT and TruTV’s parent broadcaster has grown its data management and marketing services business, to support that growth target.

“By leveraging data and analytics, we can make advertising more relevant for a consumer and ultimately more effective and efficient for our agency and advertising partners,” said Dan Aversano, SVP of ad innovation and programmatic solutions for Turner. “The challenge is, the way you do that in linear TV is really, really hard.”

In turn, Turner is prioritizing new currencies, advanced data and more real-time measurement akin to digital in order to get there.

Aversano spoke with Adexchanger.

AdExchanger: Turner has been a big proponent of diversifying TV currencies. What are some of the current challenges?

DAN AVERSANO: We all have to abandon this idea of a single currency. At Turner, we’ve put a stake in the ground that we are data-agnostic, meaning when we’re cutting specific audience deals, we use many different data sets: viewership, behavioral, attitudinal, psychographic and emotional data sets, and those get linked together. 

An advertiser may choose to use one set of viewership data with another set of behavioral data or maybe it’s credit card data layered on top of set-top box data. Our view is that should be OK, as long as those data sets are stable, accurate and predictable. The entire industry – publishers and media companies – should build an ecosystem where we can leverage those data sets on behalf of any individual advertiser.

How does that happen, tactically?

Although the idea of a single common metric or currency creates a handful of issues, you still need a level of consistency. Consistency is the idea that when one advertiser wants to use NCS [Nielsen Catalina Solutions] data, they have to be able to use that data in the same exact format with a consistent methodology for how the data is integrated with Turner and every other media partner.

That’s a slightly different pivot from where we’re at today. If you look at the way someone would cut a deal with us versus another media company, we don’t have that level of data standardization at the top. We’re moving to this world of many currencies, and it will put huge pressure within these organizations to push the providers of that data toward standardization.

Meaning, the current measurement bodies?

The way Nielsen treats their core C3 methodology versus the way they treat NCS is very different, and we need them to treat all their data like currency. One of the biggest challenges having this many different data sets is that it was very easy to scrutinize C3 because, collectively as an industry, [we were working from the same base].

Now we’re in this interim world where a lot of us are using a lot of different data sets and it’s hard to give direction to any one data provider because there may be eight different partners who have eight different deals with eight different advertisers about a different data set.

Which third parties normalize data?

I think you’ll start to see more consistency across various media entities and you’ll see us collectively start to reach out to third-party accreditation bodies – whether that’s the MRC or accounting firms like Ernst & Young – to start to build standards. I don’t know that the right situation is to start inviting ad tech partners to figure this out for us. There are lots of reasons why we do things certain ways in this industry. TV inventory is complicated. TV is a world where if a measurement company isn’t accurately representing something, they end up in front of Congress. It’s a different bar.

Turner’s one among several broadcasters bringing more data to the television planning process. What’s the criteria for programmatic partners?

We’ve prioritized things like speed of measurement, level of access to data – where and when we can get respondent-level data, which is separate from known or anonymous. The speed of measurement is a huge one.

You have every company talking about their ability to do ROI or attribution. We can do that pretty quickly in digital and social, but in linear? It happens three to six months post-campaign. All you’re measuring for is a pat on the back, but we want to measure for optimization.

It’s very different from the historic [ad sales process at] media companies where they’ve used measurement to try and close the next deal and say, “You spent this much. Look at how great we did. Sign next deal here.”

Where do you see gaps in measurement?

We want it every day, hour, minute, in-flight to make a better decision. Why is programmatic so great? Not because of automation. Programmatic works really well and shows the highest ROI when it has a built-in measurement loop. So that when you’re tagging a conversion page, every time an impression shows up, you have a measurement now of that conversion and that information flows back to your data stack, and your targeting keeps getting smarter because you have that measurement and built-in optimization.

Can you give an example?

We’re very focused on the idea of cross-platform linking for behaviors across impressions. The future is about precision of activation – where and how I place a piece of content. If I want that first impression on a phone, the second on TV in VOD and the third in live TV, I want to precisely do that. If I can control precision and recency of messaging, that’s what makes advertising work.

At the same time, we tend to focus so much in this ecosystem [on the dynamic] between the media agency, advertiser, tech stack and data provider. So every day we try to pull ourselves out of that and think about what this means from the consumer’s point of view.

Interview edited for clarity and length.


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