Leece: Despite Lack Of Scale, Category Ready for Takeoff


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 the Multichannel News/Broadcasting & Cable Advanced Advertising event here at the Roosevelt Hotel here last week, 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 Broadcasting & Cable 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 will require a reordering of the way TV is purchased, if buyers want suppliers to open up inventory for these practices, Leece said. 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% concentration of target plans.”

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.

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.