Conagra, Social TV and Online Video

There is a clear correlation between social media buzz and television ratings. The social TV phenomenon has been fueled by the explosive use of other screens-notably phones and tablets.

The above video interview is from the ANA TV & Everything Video Forum.                               
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Fernando Arriola, VP Media and Integration, Conagra Foods, recently participated in a panel discussion at the ANA (Association of National Advertisers) TV & Everything Video Forum in NYC. The panel was on Social TV.

There is a clear correlation between social media buzz and television ratings. The social TV phenomenon has been fueled by the explosive use of other screens-notably phones and tablets. Consumers are no longer simply passively watching television. Rather, they are connecting with other fans to chat about their favorite shows. This has important implications for marketers as brands now are also able to become involved in the conversation. The panel focused on opportunities provided by social TV for brands.

I sat down with Fernando to talk about the panel and Conagra’s digital and online video strategy. Everyone on the panel made it clear that we’re still in a learning phase when it comes to social TV. There is a lot of opportunity for those who gain insights into social TV to exploit the insights on behalf of their brands.

TV & Online Video Upfronts

Conagra is moving a lot of marketing dollars to digital. A fair amount of Conagra’s upfront spending is moving towards online and mobile video, in addition to broadcast and cable. Conagra wants its brand managers to think of video as one ecosystem, rather than broadcast, cable and online silos. This point is echoed by Alan Wurtzel, Head of Research for NBC (will publish that interview shortly).

Content Marketing

Conagra is also moving beyond the 15 – 30 second spot towards “brand as content producer”. Conagra wants to distribute its owned media through multiple channels and platforms such as Youtube and Facebook, portal partners such as Yahoo and MSN, mobile and Web. Distribution is one of Conagra’s biggest challenges for original content creation. How does the brand get the content it has invested in producing in front of a million people, rather than fifty people? While the company will still run banner ads and do traditional online advertising, Fernando is excited to create and distribute content directly to its target audience and brand fans.

Metrics of Success and Key Performance Indicators

Fernando likes to look at completion rates for both the creative and the distribution channel as a good indicator of how involved the audience is. The brand tries to run attribution models around how the actual content tracks to sales. Fernando acknowledges this is a bit more difficult given that most sales are in grocery stores.

Scale vs. Targeting

Online video creates opportunities for brands to hyper-target very granular audiences. However, the more a brand targets, the less audience there is to reach. So brands have to balance broad reach versus hyper-targeting. A brand such as Orville Redenbacher, which has broad consumer appeal, will do a network media buy and supplement the buy with some online video targeting. Slim Jim, on the other hand, has a pretty narrow target demographic. The company will buy small cable networks such as G4, Fuel, and MTV2, and spend online to reach consumers on niche gaming Web sites.

Brand Safety

Fernando responds with a question: Does your agency have the culture and infrastructure to really know what they are doing? What are your partner trading desks strengths and weaknesses in terms of execution?

What’s The Right Model for Online Video Advertising?

Rob D’Asaro, OMD’s US Director, Digital Strategic Alliances, has seen the changes in the ways broadcast and online video advertising have been purchased over the past few years.

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Rob D’Asaro, OMD’s US Director, Digital Strategic Alliances, has seen the changes in the ways broadcast and online video advertising have been purchased over the past few years. Broadcast was measured by GRPs and video by impressions. Now, there is a murky continuum attributable to the experimentation by vendors on one side and resistance by brands and agencies to pivot on the other.

D’Asaro sees holding on to the standard broadcast model as something that prevents clients from spending more money on digital channels. Part of his job is to bring broadcast and online channels together. Digital vendors can go to old model, which will result in more money for them for short term, or continue to sell “digitally,” the likely long-term future of the industry.

Metrics are shifting away from direct, micro-metrics, such as clicks and views, observes D’Asaro. He sees a shift to top-level metrics — brand and campaign awareness, brand favorability, purchase intent, and, at a macro level, product purchased. He is concerned about last click attribution, seeing the need for greater awareness of the entire process.

The Power of Persuasion and Watchability in TV Ads

Is TV ad engagement better when consumers are highly engaged in the program in which the ads are placed? Maybe so, maybe no.


The above video interview is from the Advertising Research Foundation Audience Measurement conference.

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There is a school of thought that ad effectiveness increases when TV viewers are more highly engaged in the programming they watch. According to data collected by Ace Metrix, however, there is a low correlation between the two, with ad creativity the essential variable in ad engagement.

CEO Peter Daboll says the findings conclude that viewing intensity, loyalty to the particular TV program and multiple other program engagement attributes do not affect how ads are processed. Relevance and purchase intent are core, with watchability and persuasion contributed by ads’ creativity leading to effectiveness. Daboll, citing his bias towards creative, suggests implications for online and social TV, along with over-the-air.

To be persuasive, an ad needs to hold viewers’ attention and have content that is valuable and relevant. Illustrating another strategic tact, Daboll observes that many successful beer ads benefit from broad appeal by testing to be sure they don’t offend viewers not specifically targeted. He also cautions that an eruption of negative comments on social media does not necessarily mean that an ad is ineffective — public relations and advertising effectiveness issues are to be addressed separately.

Engaged with Media as Long as Their Eyes are Open

ESPN programs across all five major media delivery systems — TV, radio, Internet, mobile and print.


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New platform choices appear to be adding more hours to the media day of a segment of consumers. While different patterns of consumption can been found across the media types as they are selected based on access, time-of-day and location, ESPN finds its core audience of male sports fans is spending more time with the brand.

ESPN’s VP of Integrated Media Research, Glenn Enoch, notes that 15 years ago viewers could watch his channel’s content only on TV. Now, it’s available on TV, radio, Internet, mobile and print. The result is not cannibalization. Rather, ESPN’s research finds that consumers with improved “best screen” choices are engaged — one way or another — more hours per day.

Publishers need to consider multiple contexts for their media platform initiatives. For example, finding significant percentages of Internet and mobile engagement at work is not surprising. Perhaps less obvious, Enoch observes, is that radio, along with being widely used in cars, is also used by consumers of ESPN content at work when other choices are not available.

This should serve as encouragement for publishers with strong brands to be certain to be on the platforms used by their consumers, tailored to the locations and times-of-day those platforms are most likely to be a preferred choice.

Advertising on the Best Available Screen

Consumers frequently seek video programming based on platform convenience. What this means to programmers and advertisers…


The above video interview is from the Advertising Research Foundation Audience Measurement conference.

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When a viewer chooses a platform to consume video, the decision is increasingly influenced by convenience — location, available time, discovery style, etc. It’s important to know these consumer content choices in a platform agnostic way, as aggregate data no longer reflects behaviors and attitudes.

Joan FitzGerald, VP of Television Sales and Business Development at comScore, observes that 20 years ago the creative for mass media advertising could have happened in vacuum and still have impact. Because lifestyles are changing, consumers are now able to make choices that obligate advertisers to pay closer attention to all dimensions of their tastes and behaviors in order to successfully engage. Programers, too, she notes, need to attend more carefully to engagement to have consumers stay with programs through the ad breaks.

Cross platform measurement — including mobile — is important and available, notes FitzGerald. Addressable advertising, something she sees as a good opportunity for everyone, is more difficult to measure in the multiscreen world.

That consumers are unable to skip ads in online video does not appear to be a roadblock to the emerging platforms. FitzGerald cites research indicating viewership is not affected very much when ads are ramped up to levels approaching over-the-air TV.

Meeting the Cross-Platform Metrics Challenge

Jane Clarke, Coalition for Innovative Media Measurement, on the coalition’s quest to improve understanding of cross-platform media consumption.


The above video interview is from the Advertising Research Foundation Audience Measurement conference.

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More than a score of leading TV content providers, media agencies and large brand advertisers have formed a coalition to address the need for better measurement and understanding of the multi-platform, multi-screen media environment.

Jane Clarke, Managing Director of the Coalition for Innovative Media Measurement (CIMM), describes the process of framing the changing marketplace. First are planning tools to help efficiently get the right message to right people using the right media mix at the right time. Then come the campaign evaluation tools and assessment of ad effectiveness, including analysis of how cross-platform elements work together.

Among other activities, CIMM is currently conducting a proof of methodology initiative, called USA TouchPoints, that includes an iPhone app used by the sample to log activity, media consumption and mood every half hour. This data will be fused with that from existing media measurement services to create a more complete, consumer-centric audience analysis. If the tests are successful, the tool is projected to launch next year.

Local Strategies Bolster Global Aspirations for Brands and Media

The complexity of the media landscape is a global issue. Luiz Duarte, DIRECTV Marketing Latin America, offers his perspective.


The above video interview is from the Advertising Research Foundation Audience Measurement conference.

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Obtaining actionable audience data is made more difficult in some parts of the world by lack of third-party resources. Luiz Duarte, Senior Manager, DIRECTV Marketing Latin America, describes his company as one of the pioneers of return path data in 1999. So, with no vendors who can build what he needs today, Duarte and his team are developing their own panel of about 5000 consumers, the first single source panel in the region.

The multi-platform, multi-screen disruption is occurring at a different pace in Latin America and Duarte says the panel and ratings data will help DIRECTV prepare new online offerings. While stating there are many ways the company could go, he suggests the next stage is likely to contribute to portability — allowing consumers to move downloaded, purchased content from DVRs to tablets and laptops for viewing.

Duarte advises brands to add “local flavor” to their global brands in order to succeed in his region. From this interview, one gets the impression the recommendation is right out of DIRECTV’s playbook.

Research Goals: Advertising Efficiency and Audience Satisfaction

Richard Zackon, Council for Research Excellence, discusses how his community of Nielsen clients is collaborating to improve methodology in media.


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Applying metrics to subjective experiences has challenges. When the audience studied has a growing set of choices, as is the case with media consumers, the difficulty can get compounded.

The Council for Research Excellence (CRE) is working to get better data on what’s happening inside the heads of audiences to understand what works under what circumstances. This community of Nielsen clients is facilitated by Richard Zackon, who charts the group’s direction.

CRE is engaged in a meta-analysis of over 150 industry and academic research studies to identify questions and gaps to be addressed in new research to be initiated late this year. Zackon notes that the industry research at hand may be influenced or judged by the financial interest of the sponsoring party. With the participation of both ad buyers and sellers, as well as agencies, he sees CRE achieving better quality and acceptance.

The answers sought are broad and non-trivial; the means to get those answers yet to be fully defined. Why do audiences choose the screens they do? How does that screen choice affect viewing experiences? How do social media and gaming come into play? How and why do some choices complement or displace other screens? How do advertisers place value on ad impressions on alternative screens?

Zackon cites the need to create a taxonomy to serve as the foundation of better informed discussions on these and other subjects. He acknowledges that the ongoing introduction of new screens is an additional variable to be factored into the process.

The Curse of Digital Channel Measurement

Compete CMO discusses the potentials and pitfalls of digital media metrics today, and how he sees the field progressing.


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The wealth of metrics available for digital media performance assessment has a flip side. “The things that you can measure are not necessarily those that will drive your business,” observes Stephen DiMarco, CMO of Compete. “So, you have to be careful about what you focus on.”

DiMarco speaks of defining success metrics within the context of industry sectors and individual brand niches. He warns media planners not to default to coarse demographic proxies. Based on social media and search behavior around particular products and/or brands, as well as data on other web visitation, the sites where a target audience is active can be rather well projected.

That’s the good news. On the flip side, while data can indicate whether video virality has contributed to conversions, there are nothing objective to describe how a video goes viral in the first place or why some viral videos lead to further engagement while others don’t.

Additional topics on which DiMarco offers insights are how brands should resist the temptation to leverage their TV content as online video assets; publishers increasing their research budgets to help advertisers make more informed decisions; and GRP probably not being the right metric for online video.

Story Time with Buick

Craig Bierley of Buick spoke to us at the Digitas Newfront 2011 conference about storytelling as branded content.

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Craig Bierley of Buick stopped by the Digitas NewFront and talked to us about the important role storytelling plays in Buick’s branded content strategy. He addresses the 3 pillars of Buick advertising, which includes culinary, culture and connected, and human achievement.

Buick is currently developing the 3rd pillar, human achievement, which focuses on inspiring human interest stories. Through experience and measurement, Buick found that by organically integrating a product into a story, consumers are less likely to fast forward through it than traditional advertising on broadcast television.

Bierley gives other great insights on the thought process that goes into marketing Buick as a down to earth brand. He also shares some interesting recent research data, talks about the importance of branded content, future developments for Buick, and other important elements, like distribution channels, that go hand in hand with a successful branded content campaign.

Check out Buick’s YouTube Channel for some examples of storytelling as branded content. Pay special attention to the ‘Discover Buick’ Tab.