Sawtelle-based startup seeks to buy agency

Sony has integrated its data analysis in-house.

The media industry is grappling with ways to develop new ways to track elusive consumers in the expanding digital landscape, and is paving the way for grassroots initiatives from Culver City-based OpenAP, startup VideoAmp, at Sawtelle, and Sony Pictures Studios Inc, based in Culver City. , and media planning and buying agency OMD, which has an office in Venice.

The digital revolution has introduced new metrics disrupting the status quo to measure data such as audience engagement, attribution, cross-platform comparisons, and ROI. In the era of simpler pre-digital media, advertisers and their ad agencies shared a common industry “currency”, specifically Nielsen TV ratings, based on age and gender demographics. sex. With new data tracking options and ways to measure the success of shows and ads, billions of entertainment and marketing dollars are at stake.


Some industry players might fancy a new single currency, but this is seen as unlikely because, for example, measuring cable TV audience and digital audience engagement will require different metrics.
“Not all of these Nielsen competitors do things the same way, so it’s going to be very difficult to get an actual standard for multiple companies,” said Derek Baine, managing director of Carmel-based Media Forecasting Experts Inc.


However, some industry experts say “interoperability” – the ability of different systems to connect with each other – is achievable, especially if the same audience is being tracked and measured across multiple media platforms.


New definitions of success

Ed Davis, chief product officer of OpenAP, said his company’s platform can be seen as a pipeline that unifies different audience metrics to centralize ad campaign planning.
“We’re no longer waiting for a group of stars to line up,” Davis said. “It really happened.”


OpenAP is owned by Fox Corp., NBCUniversal by Comcast and ViacomCBS Inc. And this month Discovery also became a minority shareholder. Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but Discovery secured two seats on OpenAP’s board of directors as part of the deal.


OpenAP, which the company says works with more than 100 advertisers, allows its owners to marry existing linear TV measurements with digital measurements so that “both types of measurement can be combined for true cross-platform performance,” according to Davis. The platform is expected to generate half a billion dollars in publisher-focused ad sales for fiscal 2022, a 140% year-over-year increase.
Jim Keller, executive vice president of digital ad sales and advanced advertising at Discovery, said marketers are struggling with information overload.


“There has never been so much audience data readily available from set-top boxes, from connected TV to any of the space measurement companies,” said Keller, who is based in the office of OpenAP in New York and sits on the board of directors. He sees OpenAP as a “step in the right direction to enable digital-like targeting through linear channels.”


Another local champion is VideoAmp, a media measurement software startup that has monetary partnerships with ViacomCBS and WarnerMedia. Additionally, it has pilot programs with media giants Omnicom Group Inc., Dentsu Inc., GroupM, Horizon Media, Havas Media Group, and Publicis Groupe. In May, VideoAmp received $75 million in debt financing from San Francisco-based Capital IP Investment Partnership.


“VideoAmp pulls data from a wide range of providers and platforms, providing a holistic view of advanced audiences, going beyond traditional age and gender demos,” said VideoAmp President Michael Parkes. . “We do not foresee a new monopoly, or a single currency, becoming as entrenched as it was in the past for the very reasons that it is failing the industry in its current state. Now, every publisher, content provider, agency, and brand has a different definition of success when it comes to campaigns, reach, results, engagement, or all of those things and more.

Standardization has been disrupted by the paradox of choice.
The digital media revolution has prompted major movie studio Sony Pictures Entertainment to integrate its first-party data function over the past five years.
“We control our data destiny” in marketing, said Elias Plishner, SPE’s executive vice president, global digital marketing and data analytics, based in Culver City. First party data is directly collected and owned, and therefore not acquired from third parties. Sony’s parent company gathers data for its companies’ marketing teams.


With the ongoing regulatory crackdown on consumer privacy, Plishner said not relying on outside vendors is a big plus, and internal control allows for quick pivots in the rapidly changing digital landscape.


Measure attention

While Nielsen projects its TV ratings from a recruited panel of 40,000 TV households with approximately 100,000 people, measurement companies today can gather millions of households through digital cable or satellite TV set-top boxes. Millions of homes may seem like an improvement and reflect the big data available in the digital age, but Nielsen’s ratings had factors in their favor. They determine who watches specifically, count television viewing in uncabled homes without set-top boxes, and consist of a carefully curated sample that, until recently, has proven to be a reliable indicator of total viewing.

In addition to its dominance in traditional television and radio ratings, New York-based Nielsen Holdings also provides related media spend insights and is diversifying into digital media. But Nielsen has suffered a few recent blows, including losing industry accreditation for its national TV ratings in September for allegedly underestimating viewers, which Nielsen blames on pandemic disruptions, and in December revealing that he hadn’t counted some out-of-home TV viewing, such as big-screen TVs in restaurants.


The other current leader in media measurement is Reston, Va.-based ComScore Inc., which tracks advertising, content and consumer media consumption. Other significant competitors are web media Facebook and Google due to their control of consumer data with their direct-to-consumer platforms. But many advertisers want data from third parties to ensure fairness. And Facebook and Google are under regulatory and legal fire for their business practices, such as data privacy protection concerns.


Media planning and buying agency OMD, which has developed its own unique “attention” metric to help select ad placements that will be effective, is entering the competitive data tracking space. Its attention measure is compiled with media consumption data from a third-party app that comes with a camera on a phone, TV, or tablet that records which ads consumers watch. The level of consumer attention to the brand is then categorized.


“We measure time spent with content,” said Chrissie Hanson, chief strategy officer for OMD Worldwide, which is based at the company’s Playa del Rey office. OMD is a unit of the New York advertising agency giant Omnicom Group. “Attention is the strategic lever. With this granularity, we can also see the nuances of audience attention,” she added.


All of these companies’ high-tech efforts are aimed at improving the quality of audience data used to place approximately $60 billion in ad spend on national television and roughly double that online, including social media, mobile video , streaming and other digital media segments. The advertising industry relies on audience measurement to effectively spend marketing budgets, in particular to avoid excessive audience duplication which is unproductive.


And with increasingly nuanced data, companies are getting closer to targeting ad dollars to desired demographics with a level of precision unattainable in years past.

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