Kristin Dolan on How Advertising and Media Measurement Are Changing, Her Upfront Expectations

Kristin Dolan - P 2017
Courtesy of 605

The former Cablevision COO also talks about how analytics firm 605, which she runs as CEO, is working with entertainment industry clients, how it got its name and why the Super Bowl will never lose its appeal.

Former Cablevision Systems COO Kristin Dolan has run media and entertainment-focused data and analytics firm 605, created via the acquisition of Analytics Media Group, as CEO since November.

Using set-top box information from partners and other data, the goal was to establish a "national independent audience measurement and analytics business."

The company's work focuses on helping clients in the sector migrate to more data-driven, audience-based advertising sales and using census-based data and analytics to measure and optimize programming and tune-in ad campaigns.  
605 has offices in New York City, Long Island and Pasadena with more than 40 employees, including engineers, analysts, data scientists, media experts and marketing strategists.

Dolan talked to THR's international business editor Georg Szalai about 605's work, why traditional media measurement and ad buying is changing and her expectations for this year's upfront advertising market.

How do you feel about the state of audience measurement and why did you see the need to launch 605?

We have seen consumer and viewer behavior changing. Even though people think that TV viewership is declining, overall viewing is growing. It's just on devices and platforms that are not measured. For the advertisers who are trying to reach viewers regardless of where and how they view, cross-platform audience measurement has really become more and more important.

It's also about not just being stuck buying on age and gender, but really focusing more on customer-based attributes and actually reaching a specific audience as opposed to just throwing everything up against the wall and seeing what sticks in a very broad demographic. 

The census-level set-top-box data that we are securing at 605 is really essential in measuring that. We offer unique, independent census-level TV viewing data and analytics. Our goal is to help people optimize marketing and programming initiatives.

What clients do you focus on and where do you see 605's role in the industry?

Our customers are primarily programming networks looking to optimize their advertising, and brands looking to really target specific segments and optimize their media spend and return on investment.  

We also have our managed services platforms that helps multichannel video programming distributors, whether they are cable operators or satellite providers, figure out how to aggregate, cleanse, store and utilize their set-top box data to further the needs of programmers and advertisers. 

This is really a labor of love, and the marketplace is just so ripe for this. Ultimately, the mission is really positive because it benefits our clients, but it also benefits consumers because being able to see advertising that is more relevant is just a better experience all around. And if the advertising is relevant, hopefully the response to the advertising improves, and that benefits the brands themselves.

Nielsen and other measurement firms have been looking to make progress in adjusting to changed audience behavior. How is 605 different from established players?

The way we are different, first of all we don't do panels. We give more granular household-level measurement and insights for our clients. So you are not just looking at stuff in a very broad way, but specific impact against specific audiences. And we can tie that back with advertisers when they give us their results, so they can really see what moves the needle. 

It's one thing to say this many people tuned into a show, but the devil is in the details. So if it's season 2 of a show, how many people who watched season 2 also watched season 1? How many people migrated to a different platform? For programmers, it is about getting them more details about their viewership and helping them drive return on their investment that they make in content.

For brands, it's how do they determine what types of people and what media and creative influenced the result I was looking for  whether it was increased brand affinity or an actual purchase?

Talk more about the traditional thinking about measurement and selling and why impression-based selling needs to be the focus?

The broad audience segments are not adequate anymore, because in digital you can now target down to an individual person, which is granular. Buying on TV based on age and gender doesn't align well with that data you have on digital.

We help clients identify attributes beyond age and gender and help them build optimized media schedules to reach a better defined target. This is a pivotal point in the transformation of the industry's approach to measurement and accountability.

It's basically taking everything people have been doing on digital for years and applying it to the biggest medium, which is television.

Can you give us an example of how you target a more granular target audience?

We had a case study recently with a transportation company that wanted to increase sales and understand the impact of their TV ads on their brand. So we took data from 100 million households nationally and married it up with first- and third-party data sets from them and identified potential clients and their most valuable existing customers that they had. And then we helped them create a campaign and determine the media mix and afterwards looked at their sales and also brand affinity.

We found such insights as men were more responsive to the campaign than women, one of the versions of the creative showed three times more lift than the other version, and on the media mix we determined that the longer tail, the niche networks, outperformed the higher-reach broader-based networks on actual response.

It's very different from just running a campaign and saying okay the ratings for that show were x, so we can assume that this many people saw your ad. It's about looking at the full life cycle. 

How are industry views on TV versus digital advertising changing?

People are still seeing how valuable and important digital is, but also know that is part of a bigger media mix. That is also why we are so interested in participating in this. 

The industry is still in the learning stage. A lot of people have done digital, but the bulk of ad spend is still in TV. TV will always be one of the most effective mass marketing platforms available. But it's really about utilizing digital and addressable TV for granular targeting.

Advertisers are getting much more sophisticated about really knowing who they are chasing. Instead of just shouting from the rooftops, they want to be able to target specific groups with specific messages.

We do spend time looking at the return on investment of TV ads versus no TV ads, TV and digital versus TV-only and things like that. As the industry moves towards that, we can help them garner more and more information to their benefit. 

Do the big TV events like the Super Bowl, the Oscars, Emmys, etc remain attractive?

The tentpole events are always going to be in high demand. But you also see on the flip side that certain brands won't even advertise on TV, only on digital.

For brand recognition and overall awareness, tentpole events will always be important. But I think people will be more selective. I don't ever see a time when the Super Bowl ads aren't going to be highly craved by brands because of the impact and water cooler effect of being in those events. 

Any targeting or other help you can share with movie studio and TV networks?

An important client category for us, the TV networks are easy, because with our set-top box data we can say who is watching what and what else do they watch. And when new shows or seasons come up, it's easier to go back and target people who have an affinity for the content. That also extends to movies.

We can really look at targeting people who might be inclined to go and see a movie of whatever type. If people want to test around certain premiere dates or driving people to particular theaters with discounts or so or testing things geographically with addressable advertising, they can also do that. Viewership of television or films is probably the sweet spot for this kind of data.  

Any predictions for this year's upfronts? Any trends you foresee?

Data and audience-based advertising are definitely among the main themes this year. People are really looking to move beyond the age and gender demo targets. It's all about relevant advertising.

A lot of companies are looking at selling across networks, digital and, if they have the capability, also on demand. The goal of the networks for the upfronts is to give advertisers more ability to target. Generally, everybody is rowing in the same direction and understanding the importance of this. It creates a good opportunity for us. 

And networks are also trying to not just tell people how many viewers tuned into a show, but also give them more insights around what types of people watched and the duration and things like that. Advertisers are asking how does television help me with that same level of sophistication [digital offers], and the networks are very focused on helping advertisers understand the value of television as a medium. 

Where did the name 605 come from?

The secret name for all of our data efforts internally was DataCo Ventures, DCV. When we were naming the company, we didn't want to use another acronym, so we looked at the letters as roman numerals and translated them into regular numbers, which is 605. 

We thought it went well with the idea of data and finding different meanings within data.