Jack Wakshlag, Chief Research Officer for Turner Broadcasting, is a legend in the media industry and over the years has helped define standards and made significant contributions to the body of knowledge generated by the research community. In this interview, Wakshlag talks about a current initiative “TV in Context” and boils down cross-platform measurement to the basics.
 
So what are you working on now?
 
JW: One of the important initiatives that we’ve been working at Turner is what we call TV In Context. TV In Context is a process with which everyone is familiar: the context in which an ad appears makes a difference.
 
For example, if someone goes into a wine store and French music is playing, it’s been observed that people are more likely to buy French wines, and if they are listening to Italian music, they are more likely to buy Italian wines. So based on psychological principles that are well known and well documented, the idea is that subtle cues prime certain thought processes that can help messages grow.
 
We have demonstrated this repeatedly with standard advertising metrics, such as recall. But more importantly, it’s a cognitive process that makes ads more effective. Here are a couple of examples:
 
·        Placing a commercial about an allergy relief medication after somebody has been in a movie scene having an allergic reaction. We did that with a Will Smith movie called Hitch and the impact of the ad was substantially stronger after they saw the scene.
 
·        Placing an OnStar ad in a scene that is close to a car accident or in a scene earlier in the program, before the car accident, where it has not been primed. The findings are the OnStar product is seen as more valuable. The ad has more impact and is more emotionally engaging, which is shown physically by eye gaze, blood pressure, heart rate, palm sweat – all the indications of emotional involvement. Everything rises when the ad is put in the right context.
 
We’ve always known of this phenomenon in print, and we’ve done it online. But nobody has really thought about doing it in a concerted and systematic fashion for TV, and we’re doing it now for movies and series. (Also see the previous column by Stacey Lynn Schulman, Delivering on Impact: How Turner Research Validated Contextual Advertising on Television.
 
What about cross-platform measurement? I know it’s a big topic, but do you have thoughts on this?
 
JW: We need to keep it simple, at least for starters. There are certain metrics that you need no matter what the platform. It’s the same metrics whether you are talking about selling soda or if you are talking about time spent with media. It is all about volume. So there are three measures: You need to know “how many,” “how often” and “how long.”
 
That’s pretty easy to understand with TV. It’s straightforward. You can do the same thing with radio. You can do the same thing with newspapers, although we never got to the “how often” or “how long” for print. And once you know the three basic measures for TV, you can do the same thing for Internet and mobile. Then you can start working on a system where you combine metrics across the different platforms.
 
Now that doesn’t mean that is all you need. Each medium has its own characteristics. Online is more interactive than television, at least for the time being. You can measure that interactivity. You can measure clicks, click-throughs, click rates – all of the things that you want to measure that make that medium different and unique. But at the end of the day, you need a media plan if you are buying time. And that media plan is going to have some sort of measure of “how many”, “how often” and “how long.”
 
Talk about your involvement with CTAM.
 
JW: Coming from broadcast I did not know that much about CTAM, and in many ways I was on the other side. Now that I have worked with cable networks that are multiplatform properties, CTAM remains a key part of the growth of this business and the foundations and fundamentals of where this business has come from.
 
The collaboration between cable operators and cable programmers takes place and fits together well at CTAM. It’s unique because it is not just programmers or the operators. It is people working together to solve each others’ problems, such as figuring out ways to make TV Everywhere work for all parties. 
 
This Q&A contains segments from a video interview in which Jack discusses other relevant topics, including the future of C3, how to insure high quality research and predictions for the next five years. You can view the entire conversation at WeislerMedia.
 
(Interview conducted by Charlene Weisler, a research veteran, member of the Set Top Box Collaborative executive committee, the CTAM Research and Research Planning Committees and a CIMM consultant. She can be reached through her blog www.WeislerMedia.blogspot.com or email WeislerMedia@yahoo.com).
 
 
 

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