Digital Ad Techniques Adapted to Broadcast TV

From left: Chris Ariens, Jason Schragger, Zachary Soreff and Dan Ackerman

Monday’s Super Session, “Where’s All the Ad Revenue: Media Strategies Unleashed in a Dynamic Multiplatform Environment,” provided an interesting look into the internal logic and science that goes into designing effective advertising in the digital, multiscreen age.

The session was moderated by Chris Ariens, TV and media editor at Adweek. The panelists included Dan Ackerman, senior vice president of programmatic TV, AOL Platforms/Adapt.tv; Zachary Soreff, president and partner, Sawyer Studios; and Jason Schragger, chief creative officer, Saatchi & Saatchi LA.

Schragger opened the session by framing the problem and describing how Saatchi & Saatchi tackled it. In a poignant example, he showed a photo of train passengers taken a couple of decades ago in which the passengers were reading news- papers — essentially viewing similar information. Then he showed a photo of a train car today, with each person immersed in the screen of a smartphone, all engaged in different activities.

“Everyone is having a one-on-one experience with very different media,” Schragger said. “And that’s where the real change starts taking place. In a personal environment, people become more selfish about what they look at. They no longer need to compromise what they want to see.”

In fact, this situation has led to a media consumption reversal. Content creators used to tell the stories they wanted to tell, but now they are compelled to tell the stories that people want to hear.

“We now have to ask what they [will] allow us to tell,” Schragger said. “And that’s where it’s changing.”

Schragger said his team has collected data that explains why people consume different types of programs to develop a customized approach to advertising. To sell a product or service, you need to know what each individual does and wants.

“You take the strategic plan of what you want to say, you take the media of where it’s going to be, and you take the creative — when that works together, that’s where the magic happens,” Schragger said.

He calls this “Audience of One” advertising, and it has only become possible recently because so much data is available that de- scribes each individual media consumer. We all leave a trail of preferred programs, shop- ping items, travel preferences and such that paints a picture of our lifestyles, wants and needs. So it is now possible to create algorithms that can insert ads instantly, tailored to a viewer’s interest.

“These ads can be dynamically changed into something completely different, on the fly, every second,” Schragger said.

He described another example that harnessed data from Facebook to create 100,000 customized videos to reach individuals with a wide range of personal interests. Saatchi & Saatchi accomplished this goal by making the beginning, middle

and end of the ads interchangeable. Ackerman stated that programmatic, data-driven advertising is his goal for all

media destinations, including television. “We try to create an ecosystem to support programmatic, data-driven advertising,” Ack- erman said. “The television industry is starting to evolve into the programmatic space.”

“I think television is up against this burgeoning, fast-moving digital video mobile industry where we can zero in on very specific characteristics about the audience,” Soreff added. “Then you can place an ad that you see, that your neighbor doesn’t because you have different characteristics.”

This concept is enticing to media buyers and will surely become a goal for the more linear broadcast industry.

“I want to put the right message in front of somebody at the right time, on the right device,” Soreff said.

But there are more obstacles to conquer for television than for online. The internet has a built-in method of data collection and much more flexibility for instantaneous message insertion.

Ariens asked how far television may be from attaining the kind of one-on-one customized advertising that dominated the discussion.

“I think we may be three to five years away from getting broad distribution of these new kind of boxes into enough homes across the U.S. that can provide real-time ad insertion,” Ackerman said.

And finally, many consumers will adopt technologies that circumvent ads altogether. The solution here requires another kind of paradigm shift.

“I think you have to make ads interesting and part of the entertainment experience,” Schragger said.

An enticing concept in this brave new world of advertising is that ads can be made to be more helpful to people. Rather than trying to sell people things they don’t need, ads can help guide people to find things that can enrich their lives by knowing the needs and interests of the individual.

“I think the only way to stop ad blocking is to give people what they want,” Schragger said.