Genius Digital, a TV analytics company that uses audience insights to help Pay TV operators improve retention and upsell, among other things, will launch a suite of data-driven advertising solutions at Future TV Advertising Forum (FTVA) later this month. All the solutions are live in North America; these deployments and another implementation in Asia are effectively being productized. The solutions help Pay TV operators to support unified multiscreen campaigns, segment television audiences more precisely, including around behaviour, match advertiser target groups against these fine-grain audience segments, and retarget television viewers online.
The products are aimed at the ‘fast-follower’ market which is just about every major Pay TV operator outside of the dozen who have pioneered data-driven advertising including addressable TV and programmatic. This includes operators who own their own channels and those who can establish advanced advertising cooperation with third-party channel owners.
According to Tom Weiss, CEO at Genius Digital, the focus is on real-world solutions that can be implemented quickly without major investment in infrastructure. The solutions will give an operator sales house something meaningful to show agencies and brands and so fight back against the likes of Facebook and Google in the data-driven marketing world, he says. “They are straight-forward ways to sell more inventory, get higher prices and so improve yield.”
“We have a [software] platform that can enable a revolution in TV advertising and we have already proven that we can deliver on this,” stresses Weiss. He says that depending on the market (and influenced by local regulations around data and privacy, for example), Genius Digital could help a Pay TV operator launch a retargeting solution – following a known television audience online to advertise to them there – within 6-9 months.
The whole advertising suite is underpinned by audience data and Genius Digital extracts data from operator set-top boxes (typically without new software added to the box) or from multiscreen devices (with Genius Digital software onboard). The first of the four advertising products enables 360 degree selling, using the census data from all connected devices (including connected STBs) to create a unified view of where people are viewing.
The data is very granular. Operators can see what channels somebody watched and on which device and if they are watching on a DVR you can see whether the session was seen live or as a recording and if the user pressed fast-forward or rewind, or if they watched a VOD session. Operators get a picture of how a show was watched by the whole user base, over time (i.e. beyond the live window).
The multiscreen measurement, when combined with the STB measurement, means a Pay TV operator can move towards unified campaign management across all screens. Genius Digital says it supports cross-platform frequency capping where the operator (or channel partner) understands how many times someone has seen a Ford commercial (for example) on television and online and therefore whether they should be shown another in either location (subject to the campaign rules).
The second of the four advertising solutions enables Pay TV operators to define narrow audience segments, including segments based around behaviour. After 360 degree selling, this is considered the second ‘easiest’ solution of the four to implement, in the sense that it requires the least integration with third-parties apart from 360 degree selling.
“We are working with media sales houses who want to characterize particular segments of viewers within the channels on their platform, so they can sell linear advertising in a better way on those channels,” Weiss explains.
The audience segments can then be matched against advertiser target groups to find a subset of viewers who are common to both ‘lists’ (the third solution in the Genius Digital suite).
This benefits both advertisers, platforms selling airtime and, potentially, channel owners selling their airtime. In one implementation in North America, the Genius Digital solution helped to discover that a channel indexed highly with a group of women termed ‘global explorers’ who were a subset of a wider demographic (women 25-54). They are considered a high value segment. According to Giles Cottle, Customer, Product and Analytics Director at Genius Digital, valuable segments like this one may not be monetized properly today [because they are not identified and lay ‘hidden’ inside a wider segment].
In another live deployment, a Pay TV operator helped a company who wanted to reach smart-watch owners and people who intended to buy a smart-watch. The operator discovered where and how these people watch their TV and it turns out that this very specific consumer segment tends to watch later at night than the average, and more often in the early hours than the average. The takeaway for the advertiser was that they should focus their campaign on these dayparts, which also happen to be cheaper when buying spots.
The fourth advanced advertising capability that Genius Digital is launching at Future TV Advertising Forum is retargeting, using TV-derived data about consumers to sell to them online. Tom Weiss provides a simple example of how it works: somebody sees an advertisement on TV so you reinforce that message with them online later, potentially improving ad recall and impact. The Genius Digital platform informs a data management platform (DMP) that someone has seen an ad on television, setting the process in motion.
One compelling application does not even involve a television ad. Cottle points to a customer in North America that wanted to advertise against the Game of Thrones audience – the obvious problem being that HBO (who make the show) does not carry advertising. But using the Genius Digital platform, they know everyone who watched Game of Thrones on television. They can then integrate into a DMP and sell the part of the Game of Thrones TV audience that is online, maybe even straight after the linear broadcast.
Weiss reiterates that the emphasis is on actionable insights that give a sales house something new to show brands and agencies, and which provide potential new revenue streams for platforms (and their channel partners). He is concerned that ad-tech and data-tech projects should be manageable, with immediate outcomes that are months rather than years away.
Genius Digital is not morphing into an ad-tech company, Cottle points out. The new advertising solutions are viewed as complements to the audience and business analytics the company already provides. And the four advertising use-cases are supported in a simple vendor/operator relationship; Genius Digital is not interested in complicating the already complex advertising ecosystem.