Advanced Advertising: Initiative's Leece Says Category Lacks Scale, But Is Taking Off

Chief Analytics Offer Says Advertisers Must Be Resolute in Commitment To Planning Target

New York -- Bret Leece, chief analytics officer for Initiative U.S., likens the status of addressable advertising to activity an airport.

Speaking during the closing keynote at NewBay Media’s Advanced Advertising event here at the Roosevelt Hotel on Tuesday afternoon, Leece said this level of advanced advertising has not landed scale yet.

“Call it the testing phase, but I think it’s taking off,” he said. “To use the analogy of a plane at the end of the runway, it’s a couple of feet off the ground. I’m not sure high it will go, but it’s taking off.”

Asked by B&C business editor Jon Lafayette about advanced advertising's acceptance from advertisers, Leece said it depends on the type of client. “It’s much easier for hard-core DR [direct-response] advertisers, who want a response and want it now,” versus brand advertisers “measuring more things on delivery.” For brand advertisers, things are “a little further out,” he said.

To engender more activity in this sector overall, Leece said, will require a reordering of the way TV is purchased, if buyers want suppliers to open up inventory for these practices. Foremost, he emphasized that addressable needs to be the first messaging form that is thought about, not the last.

From there, he outlined three basic precepts that need to change in order to lift the profile and practice of advanced advertising.

Buyers/clients must identify the planning target and how it can be reached from an addressable perch. “That’s a 100 percent concentration of target plans,” Leece said.

Along those, lines, Leece said audience buying should come into play. Yet, it’s not merely a matter of just showing an ad to the planning target because "you’re only paying for the delivery to that planning target.” Then, he said custom media is layered on to fill in any cracks in the plan.

Again, he noted the pecking order must change. “A lot of the time, addressable is the last play, and there’s barely any budget left. We have to reorder the way we buy this.”

Secondly, it’s critical that “big data” inform these decisions.  “At [Initiative’s] Mediabrands [unit] we’ve been investing pretty big in single- source data sets that bring all these things together,” referencing passive media exposure, demo information, behaviors attached to those groups, information derived from live surveys and sales data.

Leece said Initiative initial single-source data came from Nielsen Solutions, but the company’s second will emanate from working with Rentrak, Commscore and Excite Express. He said these data sets enable the shop to see what media is driving “business and consumer outcomes." This, Leece said, will drive the agency to buy the right media for its clients.

The third thing, Leece said, involves advertisers maintaining deep-seated belief in the planning target.” Sometimes what it comes down to is that they really want to be mass, even though they love the strategic chart.” He said clients need to get comfortable with advanced advertising’s higher CPMs, and then measure the effectiveness and analytics around the buys. Leece’s accompanying visual presentation materials indicated that advertisers may reach fewer people, but they will be the right ones. The end result may be higher CPMs, but less total costs.