Top Planners Seek TV-Digital Balance - Broadcasting & Cable

Top Planners Seek TV-Digital Balance

As video evolves, different media present unique strengths
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While the upfront gets a ton of attention for a few weeks in the spring, decisions are being made every day about which media best fit advertiser needs.

Those decisions are shaped and made by media planners and strategists, who are increasingly using data to optimize marketing mixes of traditional media, including TV, with digital outlets, to help reach targeted customers, and get consumers into stores and product off the shelves.

In ad-supported media, planners often work behind the scenes to unravel an increasingly complicated landscape with greater demands for effectiveness and accountability.

To them, weighing TV vs. digital isn’t an academic question; it’s a judgment made daily. They’re on the front lines of programmatic buying by defining target markets, and looking for ways to incorporate branded content into media plans to reach young consumers who are skilled at evading messages from sponsors.

B&C has identified some of the top planners and strategists at the biggest media agencies and has asked them about the key issues.

Unlike buyers and sellers, the planners don’t see a historic swing of ad dollars from TV to digital and back again. Instead, they see individual decisions about client needs and look at video in a way that goes beyond linear TV.

Likewise, while the networks tout their data-driven ad products, planners reserve the right to use data to figure out what’s best for clients themselves. They also seem to like the new opportunities to create branded content for their clients.

Here’s what B&C’s 2016 top media buyers and planners had to say about the industry as it stands now. An edited transcript follows.

There’s a lot of talk about ad dollars swinging back to TV from digital. Have we learned anything new about how effective different media options are?

Ilana Casser, MediaCom: We aren’t seeing general swings to or from any media channel; decisions are made that fit each client’s specific business objectives. With that said, addressability, programmatic and other technologies that make TV more measurable are certainly helping brands get more comfortable with the idea of allocating more dollars to TV. And, of course, it’s not an either/or proposition: TV works well with social and search, and we make sure that the communications systems we build for our clients are fully aligned across all channels.

Niki DeCou, Horizon Media: In my experience, I am not seeing dollars swing one way or the other. I’m seeing more of a coming together of the investment strategy and execution for video. In order to reach consumers effectively, you need to be nimble and serve them messaging in a variety of environments and platforms, often against the same content. Consumption of TV content and various forms of premium content is increasing on non-traditional platforms such as [over-the-top] and YouTube, and seller monetization strategies are starting to shift to account for that. That means media advertising budgeting also needs to account for that viewership and ad opportunity.

When it comes to effectiveness, as an industry, we are getting smarter about understanding the strengths and expectations of the various mediums. But the growing complexity of the landscape makes it very difficult for both planning and measurement tools to keep up—and they aren’t. The key is to have clarity on business and media objectives and how success will be measured. We need to balance a variety of metrics and inputs to try to get a comprehensive—if not perfectly clear—understanding of effectiveness.

Deborah Gaudette, UM: With the variety of video offerings that exist in today’s media landscape, we’ve tested many different measures of success and effectiveness. In total, what we have learned is that media is most effective when it works together. In the TV and video space, this is especially true. For example, primetime TV can drive massive scale in a short amount of time, while OTT and digital video can drive price-specific efficiency. The real value of these unique offerings can be seen when they are utilized together to work toward one overarching objective.

Ji Kim, PHD Specialty Retail: For us, it’s not necessarily about specific allocation across channels, but it’s finding environments that are either on point or best at capturing and delivering the content our Foot Locker guy is going to first, such as the NBA Finals on ABC. For example, our guy’s plugged into Twitter, watching a big sports story unfold. During NBA draft week, we launched our Foot Locker video starring No. 1 draft pick Ben Simmons on Twitter. By launching on the right platform at the epicenter of a sports moment, we ended up trending on Twitter, getting huge buzz online and a sports network doing a feature on the video.

Anand Pandya, Zenith: We’re dealing with this issue right now with a few clients and it’s amplified during slowing and uncertain economic times, as we are in now, when clients see soft sales and they revert back to ‘comfort media.’ We’ve come a long way in the past five years by getting smarter about the impact of specific media tactics by connecting disparate data sets to define attribution, which is helping validate the role and worth of each tactic. But I think these swings in investment across tactics is less so driven by “effectiveness”—a notoriously amorphous term in media—and more so by the current financial climate. Many clients got burned in the scatter market this year; that financial risk is a bigger driver of investment shift than anything else.

Jenna Vaccariello, OMD: Digital and TV have very distinct roles in media mixes, neither more or less important than the other. The level each channel supports is dependent on myriad factors including but not limited to goals of the campaign, seasonality and consumption patterns of the target audience. The evolution of multimedia upfront planning and buying allows for broadcast and digital dollars to be more fluid between channels, and while securing digital deals tied to broadcast (i.e. convergent, flex, unified, fluidity, parity) decreases cancellation flexibility we receive more efficient pricing on a demo-guaranteed digital video buy in exchange.

Alexandra Vinci, Mindshare: Yes, absolutely. Any media seller that wants to stay relevant probably has an ambitious research agenda, because brands, now more than ever, need to prove the effectiveness per dollar spent. The tug of war between TV and digital continues to exist, but we can get more precise with how we make the allocations in each medium. Not only can we assess how each channel performs on its own, we can measure their combined effectiveness across numerous metrics and plan accordingly to achieve optimal impact. We’re doing it through video neutral planning, developing plans that address all video vs. planning TV and [online video/connected TV].

TV networks are offering to sell targeted advertising as part of data packages they generate internally. Do they differ from the analysis you can do at the agency?

Casser: They do differ. At MediaCom, we are able to assess and leverage a network’s data in the content of multichannel, fully integrated campaigns. That is not something that any individual network can do. We also have addressable and programmatic buying resources that enable us to better target via those network data packages, often with greater transparency than the networks themselves can deliver.

DeCou: The key difference is that as an agency, it’s helpful to have a holistic view to address the marketplace and media planning across networks. The value that the networks bring is their willingness to optimize inventory, something agencies can’t do on our own. While it may sometimes make sense to work with one network due to a unique capability or inventory access, it’s not necessarily effective or efficient to implement that individually across all networks. The capability to refine targeting for an entire buy is there at the agency. But this aspect of TV buying is still relatively immature, so testing in-house and network capabilities is all part of the planning, buying and learning process. And collaborating with network partners investing in infrastructure and resources to advance their own capabilities also helps push the industry forward at large.

Gaudette: Data is an insurmountably crucial piece of marketing today. Everyone is developing their data offering in the hopes that it aligns with brands’ and advertisers’ business goals. This also means that companies, including publishers, networks, brands and agencies, are building unique and yes, very different, data packages. The TV networks know their audiences better than anyone else. At the agency, we are simply trying to bring the best data offerings to our clients.

Kim: No. Networks offer targeting solely against their audience and we need a more macro view of the landscape.

Pandya: Really, no. As an agency, we have multiple partnerships in place to access various data sets that should be analyzed to make an investment decision regarding TV placements (network packages, specific programming, etc.). We are also closely tied to our clients’ business and have a broad view of the complete media investment portfolio, allowing us to ingest TV viewing data and connect it to other data sets/partnerships (attribution, etc.) so we can optimize holistically vs. in a silo.

Vaccariello: Any media property, whether TV, digital, radio, print, etc. will request that media teams review their internal data, claiming that what’s being reported by the industry tools is inaccurate. Though it’s helpful to understand how they’re valuating their property, the only way to compare properties like-for-like is to use a standardized tool such as Nielsen, MRI or comScore; otherwise you can’t confidently state what data is accurate. You’re also limited in the ability to merge metrics when looking to measure something like overall campaign reach and frequency. The onus to deliver an appropriate media plan, with solid rationale as to who was chosen, at what level, and why, is entirely on the agency and the only way we can deliver an unbiased recommendation is to compare each property across a set of predetermined evaluation criteria where the data source is consistent across all.

Vinci: Yes. Our job is to ensure the use of vendorneutral data to target audiences across media. We’ve been using our brands’ first-party data, third-party data from a range of sources, and TV distributor (cable, telco, satellite) data to identify consumer audiences and objectively apply it to the whole ecosystem. Networks are taking a step in the right direction, but they can only apply it to their own audiences—it only tells one story. Within GroupM, we actually have a dedicated advanced television agency, Modi Media, who are leading the industry in addressable TV in linear, on-demand and over-the-top platforms; so we partner with them to help drive our clients’ success on TV with better data and targeting when appropriate to their goals.

More networks are offering internal creative groups and production facilities to create branded content. Is branded content becoming an important part of the campaigns you work on?

Casser: Our clients are definitely investing in branded content. As the Content + Connections Agency, it’s probably not a surprise that we view content as an element that needs to be fully integrated into any media plan for strategic reasons, not just because it’s the latest shiny object. MediaCom has a global content practice, but we also partner with networks and publishers that may have a greater level of expertise in creating particular kinds of content or reaching specific audiences.

DeCou: Branded content has been part of a lot of the campaigns we have done for several years. It continues to be an important part of the mix as brands increasingly look to provide value and deliver messaging in a voice that aligns seamlessly within content environments in order to break through.

Gaudette: Branded content has been a popular marketing avenue for a few years and has truly exploded over the past 18 months. We used to regularly use the phrase “content is king,” and that statement still rings true today. Now, branded content encompasses custom creative, 360 video, virtual reality, influencer content and so much more. We employ several of these types of branded content on each and every marketing campaign that comes out of our office.

Kim: Not for Foot Locker since the brand is already creating amazing content on their own with humor that’s become instantly recognizable to our consumers and synonymous with the brand.

Pandya: Absolutely. Branded content is nothing new, but it does continue to change as consumer behavior and consumption evolves. Working with networks is key, but must be done at the onset of production around a specific piece of content to ensure there is real synergy between the content and the brand so the integration is authentic and provides a value back to the consumer. A brand should always stand for more than the products and services it provides, and branded content is a great way to drive core brand tenants and change consumer perception through affinity marketing, going beyond the traditional :30 ad, which is so brand-centric and less engaging (not always). There’s also the potential cost advantage piece—cobranded content often eliminates the cost of entry into the content space for many clients.

Vaccariello: Branded content serves an incredibly important role in the overall media mix for a variety of clients and verticals when looking to storytell deeper than a banner ad or 15-second spot will allow. Finding that fine balance between entertainment and education helps drive a connection with the brand while also delivering key value propositions. The difficult part in adding branded content to the mix, however, is proving its success. Oftentimes, success for a client is measured as a conversion, number of page views consumed in a single visit or time spent on-site. These branded content pieces, if done right, wouldn’t deliver on any of the example metrics because they are built to communicate a much more upper-funnel message and deliver the brand messages throughout. For a brand that already has high levels of awareness, the goal of branded content—whether it be in the form of editorial with custom photography, influencer posts or a custom video series—is not to get a consumer to simply know that brand exists. It’s to provide tips, behind-the-scenes looks, and position the brand as a lifestyle choice rather than a product. Conversely, for a brand that has low levels of awareness and/or consideration, branded content helps humanize the brand and their mission.

Vinci: Branded content is becoming more important to the media mix overall; depending on your brand assets, it can be an even better way to relate and engage with your desired audience. Mindshare is investing more resources in our own in-house content group (Mindshare Content+ Entertainment) because of that.

For the American Express Leap Day activation, original content is how we were able to communicate the brand’s differentiating factors to non-card members—that American Express is the brand that gives you #MORE (than just cash). We deliberately didn’t want NBC to come back to us with integrations; we didn’t want our consumers to feel like they were being sold to. Instead, we delivered on giving consumers more time with their favorite shows vs. commercials. NBC’s individual show teams (showrunners, creators, producers, etc.) were really excited about the partnership and I think that’s what made the content so unique and compelling.

Programmatic buying has been around for a few years, but seems to be limited when buying linear TV. Are you finding ways to use programmatic to target increasingly specific consumer groups?

Casser: Consumer habits are changing, and so programmatic becomes more interesting in the TV space when we’re talking about viewers who are watching via OTT offerings. And today, I do continue to find more and more opportunities to use programmatic in the digital space.

DeCou: When it comes to ‘programmatic’ and linear TV, layering on additional data points to refine a target and over-index to specific groups is absolutely possible. It comes down to data. You get out what you put in. From a digital perspective, the automation aspect is much further ahead, of course. And digital programmatic now spans the spectrum, with the ability to address branding and direct response metrics, while also providing an important layer of transparency as to the inventory being purchased. In all cases, ‘programmatic’ or ‘advanced buying’ requires investment in time, resources and infrastructure and agency; media and tech partner collaboration is key to advancing thinking and capabilities.

Gaudette: We are just now at the brink of the data Renaissance. The possibilities of programmatic, data-driven and addressable media buying are endless. We find new ways to utilized data and target specific audiences every single day. It’s only becoming more specific and more addressable. I expect that sometime in the not-too-distant future, all media including TV, [out-of-home] and emerging ad platforms will all be capable of being purchased programmatically.

Kim: Absolutely. With one of our brands we’re drilling down 3 levels deep into an already niche audience.

Pandya: Yes, we’re working with a variety of data partners to connect siloed data on consumers into a singular view that can be used to define optimal TV experiences and placements for audiences. That said, it’s less about the technology enabling the action, and more about working with clients to understand the best campaign to leverage the technology to get surgical with targeting and message delivery—in some categories/cases, it may not provide the return. We’re also at the mercy of the size of the inventory pool that is available for data-informed buys—it’s often not everything, and certainly not all the premium. We are finding the right places to leverage programmatic in TV, but not as a replacement for the current investing model (upfront, scatter, etc.), rather as a refined tool to help with a specific challenge. Data-informed buys in the upfront are a good thing (to a degree), but fully programmatic buys throughout the year are at the mercy of market pricing at a specific point in time, a financial risk that could backfire. So leveraging programmatic in TV from a data-informing perspective works, and refining the use of the bid-based opportunity to a smaller percent of the total buy could prove a worthy test.

Vaccariello: There has been a hockey-stick adoption to programmatic—slow in its early stages because of the misconception that this was remnant or low-quality inventory and then a quick rise as programmatic partners and trading desks became more sophisticated in their approach, and more publishers allowed access to their premium inventory and creative services. Over the next few years, the percentage of ad dollars allocated to programmatic is only going to increase because the notion of being able to layer in multiple data sources to reach a specific audience across platform and inventory sources makes it such a lucrative channel. While the digital programmatic space has had its revolution and is on a continual path to improvement, it will be interesting to see how this theory and approach is adopted by linear TV.

Vinci: There is tremendous value in using data beyond demography to plan and buy media, and while the real-time execution aspect of programmatic is not really feasible for TV (public or private exchanges), the spirit of the approach is something we as an agency ascribe to. We use first-party data to list-match and target one-to-one across print, TV (addressable) and digital (DMP).

Media is changing. What change most impacts how you do your job?

Casser: If I had to pick just one change that is having a major impact, it would be that brands are looking for the secret sauce when it comes to how and why consumers are watching video, and whether data and technology will truly be able to find individuals who are actually going to convert. With earned media becoming more and more important, the pressure on paid media to deliver sales is growing.

DeCou: This is a hard one! I think with so much change and the breadth and depth of what encompasses media, the biggest change is the variety of people, companies, opportunities and challenges that I encounter on a daily basis as part of my job. In order to deliver the best work, I need to find time to listen and learn about new and different things constantly, and often reassess how I’ve thought about things that aren’t new. I have to be open-minded, yet clear on priorities in order to get things done.

Gaudette: I always tell my team that change is the only constant in life. My job would be most impacted if the media landscape didn’t change and became stale. It is the new, the noteworthy, the sustainable and the scalable that keep my job and this industry moving. It is this change that excites and fascinates me every single day.

Kim: With the speed and advancement in tech it seems like there’s always a solution (existing or built from scratch) to help with client’s specific marketing and business needs. With that comes the challenge of finding new ways to measure.

Pandya: There are so many ways to answer this question, but I’d say navigating the ever-increasing inventory pool—and finding the best mix of the right content for the right price in front of the right audience—is certainly one of the main changes that is really impacting how we create the optimal strategies for our clients’ objectives. That, and the unification of analysis and measurement of impressions and content across all media outlets.

Vaccariello: It’s a skill to be able to keep up with the changes that happen in the media industry on a daily basis. What you learned about tagging, tracking, programmatic opportunities, ad blocking, the evolution and adoption of HTML5, viewability, impacts of the FTC regulations on influencer marketing, etc. just a month ago could already be outdated. The way people consume media often changes as well so you need to be prepared to marry the technological advances to the behavioral patterns to ensure that your message is not only breaking through the clutter but is resonating and making an impact as well. It’s simultaneously the most exciting and daunting aspects about a career in media since you’re constantly learning and honing your skill set.

Vinci: It’s funny because I was actually just having this conversation with a colleague after coming out of a meeting where the agency rolled out a new specialty. Media is changing rapidly, and it can sometimes cause people to question what their jobs will look like in five years. But what all of these new specialties and automated tools really mean is that we’re able to do everything faster, which is particularly important for us as an agency that’s all about agility and adaptive marketing. There is no surrogate for storytelling, and being able to interpret what all these tools and systems tell you is going to become increasingly important to stay competitive in planning roles.

ILANA CASSER

Title: Senior partner, communications and planning director, MediaCom
College: University of Maryland
How she got into the business: Casser wanted George Stephanopoulos’ job as a press secretary and interned in Washington. She found she didn’t like politics, but liked the strategy of telling stories. After attending the London School of Economics, the Sorbonne and Berkeley, Casser moved to Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., and got her first media job at Zimmerman. She met with the folks on the strategy and planning side of the agency and realized they took all of what she’d done and “made it into a real job. I felt like it was a perfect fit.”
Recent interesting campaign: “For the past year and a half, we’ve been able to really communicate the value behind AARP,” Casser says. “We’re not targeting that 65-year-old; we’re targeting a 40-to 45-year-old and it’s much more contemporary than it’s portrayed in the media.” For the Real Possibilities campaign, AARP worked with Time Inc. and several celebrity spokespeople to create videos that appeared on multiple platforms. One video featured soccer star Brandi Chastain. Once her playing career ended she became a coach, training and motivating girls to be ready for the next step in their lives. Also featured in the campaign was chef Carla Hall, who is well known among 40-to 50-year-olds. “The campaign really raised brand awareness and the perception that the brand was relevant to our audience,” Casser says. “They hadn’t been communicating their message in a contemporary way. We thought it was important now that the generation Xers are falling into our age demo.”
Favorite TV show: Made In Chelsea. “I have this fascination with British reality TV,” Casser says.
Favorite Gadget: Casser wears Ringly jewelry, a ring that syncs up to your phone via Bluetooth. It doesn’t look like tech, but it subtly lights or buzzes when an email or text comes in. It also syncs to other apps including Twitter and Instagram. “Personally, it’s prettier than an Apple watch,” she says.

NIKI DECOU

Title: VP, brand group director, Horizon Media
College: University of Pennsylvania
How she got into the business: “I wanted to go to New York and live the Sex and the City dream,” DeCou recalls. Her first job was in finance, but she realized that wasn’t what she wanted to do for her entire career. She was on a basketball team and one of her teammates was in human resources at digital agency Razorfish. They were talking about work, and she told DeCou she should send her resume. “I went over there and I had no idea what an impression was.…But I started at the bottom and just loved the agency environment and the people there and advertising in general. It was just a great fit, so here I am.”
Recent interesting campaign: Client Geico is the exclusive sponsor of Amazon Prime’s video pilot program. When Amazon is picking new shows to put on its streaming video service, it puts the pilots online and lets viewers vote on which shows should become series. Unlike most Prime Video content, you don’t have to be a member of Amazon Prime to see it. There are no commercials on Amazon Prime, but Geico has pre-roll ads before these pilots air and the Geico Gecko is integrated into the pilot site. Some Amazon shows, such as Transparent, have begun to win awards, which Geico and the agency like. “It’s a nice premium brand alignment because the content is so well respected,” DeCou says.
Favorite TV Show: Peaky Blinders.
Favorite gadget: “I’m a very utilitarian person, so my most used apps are Vendo, Uber and Weather. Gaming is not my space,” she says.

DEBORAH GAUDETTE

Title: Senior VP, group partner, portfolio management, UM
College: University of Southern California; MBA from Pepperdine.
How she got into the business: After jobs in event production at ESPN during the X Games and in the marketing department at E! Networks, Gaudette says she hit it off with the hiring manager at UM, who now happens to work at Sony, her client. “He introduced me to what was then called ‘emerging media,’ also known as digital media. We’ve also been called interactive media,” she says. “I was fascinated by how fast-paced the entire media landscape was evolving.”
Interesting recent campaign: Gaudette says that working with a client in the movie business means campaigns see results instantly. That keeps even the “oldest millennial like me on my toes.” One thing that defines her career is that she’s worked on all five of Sony Pictures’ Spider-Man films. “It’s been interesting to see the evolution on one franchise over a decade how different our media recommendations are,” she says. The first Tobey Maguire film was before the boom of social media. By the third one, Myspace had risen and fallen and Facebook was the burgeoning social platform. For the first Amazing Spider-Man film, Twitter was its second-largest platform. By the latest film, Snapchat had become all the rage. “If you look at the life cycle of the Spider-Man movies through the eyes of social media, the landscape has changed so much.” But Gaudette adds: The importance of television has not diminished. “It’s still the best place we can go and generate a massive amount of scale on our best sight, sound and motion assets.” TV has shifted to over-the-top and online and some digital video products are comparable to television, including Google Plus. “Advertisers are trying to do the right thing to deliver their best assets to the right audience when they want them and when they’re most attuned to them.”
Favorite TV show: Game of Thrones
Favorite Gadget: I saw a lot of really interesting ad technology at Cannes and I think we’re going to start to see as advertisers and media professionals a more discerning way to analyze what some of those ad tech offering are. Sometimes it’s confusing whether the tech works for the publishers or the clients, but some really fascinating stuff is being developed and is ready to be put into market.”

JI KIM

Title: Group account director, PHD Specialty Retail
College: University of North Carolina
How she got into the business: “I took courses in media at the school of journalism at Carolina and wanted to get into the media business because I always wanted to live in New York City,” Kim says. She went to a job fair in Atlanta and found BBDO and started after graduating. “When I came to interview at BBDO, I really loved the people and the energy of an ad agency. When you’re fresh out of college and first come up to New York and you see an agency, it’s very eye-opening.”
Recent interesting campaign: Kim’s client is Foot Locker. “They’re the kings of sports culture,” she says. After an exciting NBA season, Foot Locker was going into the draft. The retailer was able to sign the draft’s No. 1 pick, Ben Simmons, who is moving from LSU in college to the Philadelphia 76ers in a commercial. “When Foot Locker sees an opportunity, we jump on it.” OMD put the commercial on Twitter. Kids who love sports follow the latest sports news, Kim says, “so that’s where we launched the spot. It started trending on Twitter and it got a ton of press play.” Turner Broadcasting called and did a feature on the spot on NBA TV. “Working on Foot Locker is at the intersection of pop culture and it’s about being really timely. It’s always a really quick turnaround.”
Favorite TV show: Game of Thrones
Favorite gadget: Kim’s group at PHD has gotten hooked up to Slack. “It’s basically an instant messaging tool for work, but it’s really cool,” she said. “We use it with one of our clients and it really cuts down on the email space, so that’s been a lifesaver for us. Slack has been really efficient.”

ANAND (A.J.) PANDYA

Title: Senior VP, group director, strategy, Zenith
College: Emory University, Atlanta
How he got into the business: Pandya wanted to get into the marketing business in some way, shape or form, so he followed his sister to New York. He started working at a paralegal at “a quintessentially evil corporate litigation firm,” working on an Enron case. He moved to non-profit before landing an interview at Zenith through one of his sister’s friends. His first job at Zenith was as an assistant media planner on Chase, focusing on new store openings. “I love understanding the client business and seeing how we can leverage our understanding of media to solve some of their business solutions,” he says. “It’s less about transacting 30-second spots now and more about trying to identify marketing and media as a way to solve a business challenge.”
Recent interesting campaign: In 2014, Sonic launched boneless wings as a new product line and did exceptionally well. Topping that campaign would be a challenge. So on top of the TV-driven media campaign that drove the first year’s success, the agency added a content program using an online influencer to make sure it was engaging with the target audience. The agency identified Brodie Smith, who does trick shots with a Frisbee, as a spokesman, and filmed him doing his thing at a Sonic store in Dallas. In one video he orders food from Sonic and daydreams about trick shots while waiting for his food. At the end, he enjoys food with the Sonic staff. The video drew 4.6 million views. “We saw some great brand lift metrics and brand engagement metrics, which was what we wanted,” Pandya says. Working online, Sonic was able to retarget viewers to get them into stores and saw an incredible lift in sales and great return-on-investment numbers.
Favorite TV show: Preacher
Favorite gadget: “I love the concept of voice activated & audio interactive artificial intelligence (i.e. Echo), but I think it’s got a long way to go,” he says.

JEN VACCARIELLO

Title: Associate media director, OMD
College: University of Delaware
How she got into the business: A marketing and management major, Vaccariello had an internship doing event marketing and in-game entertainment for the New Jersey Nets. Looking for post-college opportunities, she found Modem Media, a digital agency in Connecticut that got bought by Digitas. “It was 2007 and digital felt new and there were so many thing happening,” she says. “I thought it was a great way to get some initial exposure to the media industry and really had no idea it would be something I loved and stuck with all these years.”
Recent interesting campaign: “Right now, we’re working to launch the Levi’s fall campaign,” Vaccariello says. OMD handles all media for all of Levi’s sales channels, from sales at brick and mortar stores with partners J.C. Penney, Kohl’s and Macy’s, to outlet locations, to online sales. “That’s been really challenging because the entire retail category is seeing declines in foot traffic year-over-year, so it’s been fun to try to figure out a solution to combat that. As much as we would love for someone to convert on Levi.com, we also want to make sure that they’re going into the store and trying the product on, because there really is something about a pair of jeans. You do need to feel them and put yourself in them.” With Super Bowl 50 being played at Levi’s Stadium, and Levi’s coming out with a new NFL collection, “we had a strong mix of sports programming. This season we don’t have much of a sports story to tell so there will be some ESPN or Fox Sports, but it won’t be as heavy as last season.”
Favorite TV Show: Friday Night Lights
Favorite Gadget: “A tool that would make my life easier would project how long new trends would be applicable,” she says. “Is it worth me and my team’s time to optimize an entire plan for a fad that’s only going to last two months? Is it a new app that people are crazy about but soon enough it’s going to phase out? I think being able to see long-term the future of these developments would help us be better with our time. If it could also tell us a couple of Lotto numbers, that wouldn’t be terrible either.”

ALEXANDRA VINCI

Title: Director of planning, Mindshare
College: Manhattan College
How she got into the business: Vinci was a communications major, with a minor in business and Spanish. In her senior year, she was unsure what she wanted to do, until she met someone at a family party who worked at an agency. During her job interview, she was asked to come up with a media plan for a barbecue sauce; she’d never heard of a media plan until then. But media turned out to be a good fit, incorporating a creative side and an analytical side, and what began as an internship quickly turned into a full-time position.
Recent interesting campaign: American Express was launching a cash back card and was looking to generate as much awareness as possible, especially among a millennial generation that is programmed to hit the skip button when commercials appear. The idea was that the AmEx Blue Cash Everyday Card gives you more. To connect the card’s extra value, Mindshare hit on the idea of giving TV viewers extra content, doing so on Leap Day, that extra day every four years. That content replaced what would have been a traditional commercial pod. The agency worked with NBCUniversal and the showrunners of its programs to develop what their audiences wanted to see. On Today, they got more Hoda and Kathie Lee; for Blindspot, viewers got behind-the-scenes interviews and plot teasers from the shows stars and creator. During The Voice, a mini-documentary ran on season 9 winner Jordan Smith. Seth Meyers of The Late Show did a produced sketch based on Mad Max. The campaign was extended on NBCU’s digital platforms. “There was a huge outpouring on social media saying ‘thanks’ to American Express,” Vinci said.
Favorite TV show: Mr. Robot
Favorite Gadget: Vinci now has Roku boxes both at home and in the office. She uses it to help sell clients media plans that include connected devices. “The Roku has proven to be an extra team member,” she says.

While the upfront gets a ton of attention for a few weeks in the spring, decisions are being made every day about which media best fit advertiser needs.

Those decisions are shaped and made by media planners and strategists, who are increasingly using data to optimize marketing mixes of traditional media, including TV, with digital outlets, to help reach targeted customers, and get consumers into stores and product off the shelves.

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