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Ad execs: Advanced ad tech, attribution metrics important as audiences splinter

As the content world continues to offer viewers more options and audiences continue to fragment, media sellers are increasingly using advanced ad technology and attribution metrics to demonstrate to ad buyers that messaging within their fare can drive consumers to the end of the sales funnel.

Speaking at the Advanced Advertising Summit in New York March 25, Dan Riess, executive vice president of Turner Ignite at AT&T Inc.'s WarnerMedia, said the unit in the past three years has optimized cable schedules to hit targets. Turner Ignite provides creative solutions for clients, including branded content, with decisions informed by data.

Turner Ignite also has the capabilities to measure audiences on a half-hour basis across multiple audience segments, which can help clients "heavy up schedules where they make sense," Riess said. Meanwhile, "the big sea change" with Turner becoming part of WarnerMedia is the integration with AT&T's Xandr advertising unit, he said. Xandr's data sets "move things faster and more accurately," while also affording better visibility into consumer behavior, relative to what they view and where across devices.

Mike Mayer, executive vice president of sales solutions at NBCUniversal LLC, talked about CFlight, an impressions-based metric tool combining linear and digital impressions from mobile, desktop, video-on-demand and over-the-top platforms, across the portfolio of Comcast's programming arm.

Mayer said NBCU will be writing some deals based on CFlight for the second upfront negotiating season. He noted that if the digital or TV platform is showing greater delivery during a campaign, NBCU under CFlight can move ad inventory to help clients achieve audience reach and targeting goals.

Brendan Condon, chief revenue officer at Comcast Spotlight LP, said attribution models are essential for local clients using TV as their main ad platform, noting that those schedules often represent a disproportionately large percentage of their operating budgets and can be vital to a business' success. He used an example of a local pizza retailer that worked with Comcast Spotlight in identifying three primary audience segments: Mothers as "CEO" of sorts for family dinners; sports enthusiasts who order when there is a significant event on the calendar; and young adults and college students, who purchase pies as a cheap and cost-effective meal option.

Comcast Spotlight developed media plans and schedules for each segment that resulted in growth for the three target audiences, Condon said.

Nationally, there is a growing interest in attribution. Riess said such data sets are beginning to change more "clients' hearts and minds. We're starting to move that way directionally."

At the same time, he said attribution studies around linear schedules still take too long and are too expensive. It doesn't help media buyers or sellers when it takes six months to indicate that a campaign helped drive a 3% sales increase. "Clients have already moved on to the next cycle and made plans," Condon said, noting that the industry needs to make this happen faster and at lower costs.