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Lisa Rubenstein

Lisa RubensteinBy Lisa Rubenstein

VP, Group Director – Client Insights


After 20+ years in the media planning and buying business, 2017 was my first time to attend the NAB Show.  The National Association of Broadcasters is the trade organization for radio and television broadcasters, and the annual convention is the second largest in Las Vegas attracting over 100,000 attendees annually.  Why would a media accountability expert go see a bunch of booths for new camera or lighting equipment, you might ask?  Well, it’s more accurately about the evolving and converging media landscape!  At the NAB Show I encountered all levels of content providers, from FOX Broadcasting to Snapchat Influencers, as well as the devices and the technology companies who bring this content to life.  The NAB billed it as The M.E.T. Effect, the gathering of the Media, Entertainment, and Technology visionaries shaping this new combined ecosystem.

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My objective was simple and twofold:  keep abreast of what’s new and find out how it can be measured.  After all, “coolness” gets you only so far when you are an advertiser with shareholders holding you accountable for huge media investments.  We have reached the era of using technology and data to serve the right ad to the right person at the right time!  Superb!  We can minimize or eliminate waste!  Wonderful!  The future is near, if not quite here (yet).  Here are some key learnings that should help every advertiser to prepare for this new world order of media.

  1. Gender/age buying will go the way of the rotary phone.  This was always a surrogate for whom we wanted to reach anyway.  Dog owners, heavy pizza delivery buyers, new truck intenders, frequent travelers.  We can now find them via database overlays and target them.  While gender/age is still the transactional currency for billions of dollars, particularly in traditional broadcast media, it will not be for long.  Go ahead and wrap your head around it now.  Start thinking about what this means for how you convert and sum across platforms, and communicate the new “rating” points to your stakeholders.
  2. Own and protect your data.  As noted above, your customer information will be part of new negotiations and media deals.  You own part of the “secret sauce” for the new age of media.  Know the value of your first party data and understand where it ends and second party begins.  The ANA/K2 Media Transparency study recommendations last summer should have been enough to compel you to update your agency contracts for the digital age.  There’s no time like the present (or two years ago) to make sure you are up to date and protected.
  3. Standardize (and maybe share) your data.  Yes, it will be a fine balancing act in conjunction with the above.  But the new ecosystem and your ability to reduce/eliminate advertising waste may rely on it.  Transparency and Standards continued to be buzzwords at this year’s NAB Show.  The Open AP initiative by Viacom, Turner, and Fox is a step in the right direction by publishers/content providers to make it easier for advertisers to find common currencies across providers.  But you will need to be a willing and contributing participant to improve this new marketplace.  If you are like many large companies, you may need to start within as a first step.  Work to remove silos and unify data sets so they can be useful.
  4. Always Be Testing (ABT, if you will).  Define your KPIs clearly.  Continually measure and adjust.  Think about how you define a “digital” conversion and attribution, and the continuous optimization.  Now, replicate that for all your media investments.  Testing is no longer carving out x% of a working media budget to “try something new”.  It should be standard operating procedure.  It bears repeating, however, the crucial factor:  define your KPIs and measure against them.  (Media budgets are not unlimited and should never be disposable.)
  5. You Have Choices!  Blue chips versus startups.  Paid, Earned, Owned media.  Top National TV Networks and those post-millennial social media influencers.  Gone are the days of media “must-buys”.  Find partners who provide you with the right combination of technology, transparency, data ownership, etc. to grow with you in this new era.

So that future of eliminating advertising waste?  It’s a real possibility.  Let’s be responsible and transparent with the data as the industry moves there.  At the NAB Show 2020, I hope to hear less about what’s possible, and more about how to make media plans and transactions based upon it.


If you liked this post, you might also enjoy Lisa’s  “5 Things You Didn’t Know About Your Local Cable Buys”.

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