First Upfronts, Then New Fronts and Now PeopleFronts

Originally posted on MediaBizBloggers.com

We have Upfronts and Newfronts. Do we need another front? Simulmedia founder and CEO Dave Morgan thinks so and launched the PeopleFront with a presentation in NYC this past week. Morgan is one of the most respected executives in the media data space today. His company was an early user of STB data for targeted television marketing, which is why, when Morgan talked about a PeopleFront, he had a full house of media executives ready to listen.

So what exactly is a PeopleFront? Morgan explained, “We buy people not programs, which is why we developed an audience insights database platform offering data driven people-oriented TV advertising.”

Morgan began the presentation with actors, all in the 18-49 age break, describing their various lifestyle and behavioral affinities in a way that clarifies that, while they are all 18-49, they are all very different media and marketing targets. While not especially different from lifestyle segments that have been in the industry for decades with Prizm or VALs for example, we do seem to be heading more towards a closer one-to-one targeting capability. And with the recent announcement that Nielsen and Simulmedia are partnering to develop a measurement capability for long tail cable network measurement, the race for measurement solutions to facilitate targeting is heating up.

As part of the program, Jack Myers hosted a panel consisting of content buyers and sellers as well as Simulmedia and Nielsen representatives. Leading off was Nielsen’s Steve Hasker who outlined Nielsen’s key priorities. Hasker said that one of the key priorities was, “working with Simulmedia and putting Nielsen ratings with Dave’s analytics and STB data,” admitting that, “we have some work to do in local.”

There is the opinion that with Nielsen, innovation often comes in response to perceived competitor initiatives. Myers spoke for many in the audience when he asked, “Nielsen’s history is that it doesn’t move forward. How do we know that Nielsen is moving forward (in people measurement innovation)?”

Hasker responded that, “We can’t just wake up one morning and say that we are going to change the metric. We have a methodical process to go through. Our clients say they want to get beyond demographics. We have our own sets of products that get beyond datasets. One true thing about using age and gender is that it is true of the population. Advertisers want specific people but there is value of age and gender in the mix. We must make sure that all of the data that we have is made available to those who want to add its secret sauce.”

All this caution is great, except the industry appears to be moving faster and impatience on the client side is growing. As Campbell Soup Company’s Yin Woon Rani said, “Nielsen is taking input from clients but there is a big learning bell curve.”

In the client sector, interest in PeopleFront audience targeting is keen. Rani explained, “We have a lot of small audiences making up the soup franchise, and we use STB data to have our creative delivered to a more specific target. It is a pragmatic use of the data. We create a message with that person in mind. So the core focus of why this (PeopleFront approach) is valuable is that we cultivate segments but then have to buy our media on age gender. Now you can marry content creative choices with media choices.”

Mark Kaline, formerly of Kimberly Clark, added, “We are all interested in measuring outcomes. If we can get to individuals and people targets, you can get more clarity and provide effectiveness.”

The research portion of the panel included Discovery’s Sharon O’Sullivan, Turner’s Howard Shimmel and Simulmedia’s John Piccone. All of these executives are involved in finding measurement solutions through big data sets. O’Sullivan noted that there are now “many data sources. Every client wants something different. Some want TRA. Some want Rentrak. Simulmedia has a wealth of data. It is refreshing not to have to sell something with a standard mix.”

Myers noted that research has historically been a staff area but there is a new movement afoot. As Shimmel explained, “We are trying to evolve research away from being a cost center. We target using all these datasets. Recent tests we have done using data to optimize a client’s mix resulted in a 10-30% increase in GRPs.”

The march towards better consumer targeting, whether as part of a PeopleFront or through some other codified industry movement, might finally lead to welcomed a readjustment of audience valuation. Shimmel noted that, “CPMs for W18-49 could be $10 but for heavy soup eaters it could be $50.”

Jack Myers spoke for many of us in a certain “less desirable” age group. “I am 55+ and by most measurement targets I am irrelevant,” he said. “But my spending is not.” I hear you, Jack.

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