The top media planners are all up on technology in their personal lives, which turns many of them into the new kinds of video consumers that traditional TV networks are desperately trying to stay in touch with.
With everything from Rokus and Slingboxes to Apple Watches in their homes, planners are creating their own digital entertainment environments, whether or not they are cord-cutters.
“I have just about every device known to man. I’m one of those boys-with-toys kinds of guys, especially when it comes to electronics,” says Tom Bell, group account director at PHD. “I think I have a pretty good aptitude for hooking them up, operating them and connecting to the outside world,” adds Bell, ticking off gadgets including Slingbox, Roku, Apple TV, PlayStation and a smart Samsung TV. It’s gotten to the point where the gizmos befuddle the rest of his family when they just want to watch TV. Besides liking technology, Bell says using the gadgets is important for his work. “I have to understand the consumer experience as part of my professional job,” he says. “I love my Roku,” says Melissa Handley, client director, strategy, at Initiative U.S. “When I travel, I wish I could bring it with me to make it easy to watch all of my favorite shows. I cut the cord a couple of years ago despite being a really heavy TV-watcher, and so I’ve had to learn different ways to find programming and access programming.” Handley, who is trying to get by with four video subscriptions, says, “I cut the cord as an experiment to see if it really could be done. And the answer is yes—except for sports.”
Ralph Pardo, managing director at OMD, says he has a Roku on every TV in his household. “It’s changed the way we watch TV,” says Pardo, who works on the Time Warner Cable account. Time Warner Cable has a partnership with Roku that allows Roku users to access programming via an app. “I love Time Warner Cable, but we actually don’t have any boxes on any of our TVs. We stream everything.”
“I think we’re a little oversaturated on the technology,” says Steve Murtos, senior VP at Starcom MediaVest Group, who has three kids, four iPhones, four iPads, three Apple TVs, two Samsung connected TVs and an Xbox.
“I spend all my time trying to connect them and making sure that the WiFi works,” Murtos says. He recently did some remodeling and got a 4K Samsung 65-inch TV set. “I’m waiting for some 4K content, but the TV is spectacular. The device is almost like a piece of art in our home.”
Phones are also important to planners.
“I live and die by my iPhone. It’s such a great facilitator of so many great things from a personal perspective and from a professional perspective,” says Kimberly Aiello, senior VP, managing partner, brand strategy, Horizon Media. Aiello is hooked on the Pinterest app and is looking at travel apps, including Google Translate, which will come in handy during an upcoming trip to Italy.
Some iPhone devotees are debating whether to get the Apple Watch.
“My wife asked me if I want an Apple watch, and I haven’t decided yet, but I’m ‘probably’ to ‘yes.’ I’m mostly an Apple guy,” says Christopher Chin, senior VP, group director at Optimedia.
“If you saw me right now, you’d notice I’m not wearing a watch,” says Jason Lim, managing partner at MediaCom, who says he owns several. He’s not sure how practical the Apple Watch would be, although, “when you’re in meetings, instead of overtly checking your phone you could casually look at your watch. It’s not as distracting.”
To Alison Karp, managing partner at MEC, Periscope is the kind of media technology that could be revolutionary within the video universe. “The capability that any individual can broadcast live is going to change the way consumers are connecting with the world around them, and connecting with brands,” she says.