October 3, 2012
By Kaylee Hultgren
A lot is made about digital disruptors and their potential impact on the TV business, but cable has had plenty of experience as an original disruptor. Speaking at an Ad Week panel in NY this week, Time Warner Cable Media pres Joan Gillman talked about how Time Warner Cable was considered a disruptor when it brought DVRs into the marketplace. Same thing with broadband.
“Change never stops. It’s the filter you need to think about,” she said, reminding the audience that what’s most important is consumer behavior. “If it’s not changing, then [the technology] is not disruptive.”
But consumers’ appetites are clearly evolving, leaving marketing, advertising and media companies scrambling to accommodate them. For Time Warner Cable, the digital world has enabled the company to deliver new services to consumers, including VOD and finally multi-screen viewing and social platforms. And that’s changed advertising quite a bit. “Marketers are asking for fully integrated campaigns,” Gillman said. Moreover, the digital world has altered the way consumers are spending their time, which in turn is “creating challenges for everyone in the ecosystem… You’re trying to figure out how the experiences intersect with TV,” and then build a strategy from there. “Each ingredient you put it into multi-screen solution depends on each specific goal,” she said.
With so many new platforms, the challenge for Catalina Marketing, according to CEO Jamie Egasti, is managing the “air traffic control” of ad placement. That is, pinpointing the optimal time, place and device with which to directly target consumers. “Behavior is the new demographic,” he said. The tricky part is figuring out to measure it and then scale it. Jim Lanzone, pres of CBS Interactive, which owns CNET, said that he’s seeing a full ad load online, equal to that of television. “Internet and traditional are coming together more and more,” he said. In fact, the company’s “interactive” distinction may be superfluous in the future, when everything will interactive.
Tumblr founder/CEO David Karp offered insight on the differences between digital and TV advertising. For pure digital networks like Tumblr, the concern is that large ads—like a full-screen interstitial one—will make consumers close the browser and migrate to another Internet site. In TV, however, 30-second spots are common—and often exactly the same content—across all competing networks. “They won’t put the customer over the edge,” Karp said. “It’s all about the consumer experience.”
That’s the idea behind Time Warner Cable’s current campaign in its Texas markets. Its goal is to figure out precisely how consumers use their devices, by looking for consumer feedback and improving on the campaign in their 2nd and 3rd iterations. Building on what you’ve learned from consumers is crucial, Gillman said. “In too many cases, people don’t provide data immediately to multi-screen campaigns.”
Back to those digital disruptors. Gillman acknowledged that one area MSOs can work on is customer service. But in the industry’s defense, the onus is on cable companies to bear the brunt of the calls, she said. “Do OTT services have customer service, except Amazon?” she asked the panel. “Very few companies have a place to call.” And now that cable companies have added broadband service to TV subscriptions, the “emotional expectations are so much higher,” she said. “We can get better at it, but we’re the only place to call.”