Podcast: The New Viacom

Bryson Gordon leads advanced advertising initiatives at Viacom. Catch him at AdExchanger’s upcoming Programmatic IO New York on Oct 15-16.

Ahead of its planned merger with CBS, Viacom is scaling up new, more data-driven models for TV advertising. Its Vantage product offers impression guarantees against narrowly defined audience segments. Vantage was the brainchild of Bryson Gordon, who joined Viacom in 2015 after a career in tech. He had no background in television before he took the job.

“The company recognized that they had a need to transform,” Gordon says. “Viacom has a much younger audience than virtually every other television network out there, and so they were starting to feel the effects of changing behaviors in content consumptions earlier than other television companies. And they were starting to feel the effects from marketers ... Because of that they doubled down.”

Gordon built out a team of data nerds. Most of them, like Gordon, didn’t have a background in TV. “I’ve got a bunch of data scientists who don’t even own televisions.”

He then went on a biz dev spree to get a wide range of datasets: viewing data, geolocation data, CPG data, credit card data and so on.

“Do you have the confidence to actually guarantee impressions for an advertiser against a particular audience? That means you need a set of machine learning models that allow you to predict what viewing behaviors for a car buying segment [are] going to look like,” he says.

Gordon and team spent their first eight months heads down building a data platform with partners in the industry and developing a training data set they could use to build predictive models.

Listen to the full episode to hear how that early work has paid off.

Also in this episode: Viacom’s data mistakes, going up against big tech and OpenAP’s momentum.

 

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