Rovi’s Siegel: Search And Discover

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January 19, 2012 – 7:53 am

roviThe notion of connected TVs as an advertising platform for direct audience buying – as opposed to the traditional method of buying 30-second spots in between networks programming – was one of the themes sounded by ad agencies at last week’s annual Consumer Electronics Show.

One of the companies that’s attempting to capitalize on that is Rovi, the home entertainment tech firm that’s one large part program guide (it acquired TV Guide when it was known as Macrovision and has since unveiled several interactive listings tools after selling that brand to Lionsgate). Thanks to its “discovery” offerings, Rovi is also a major provider of viewer data, and that in turn, powers its ad network. Both Rovi and video ad network Yume have deals that embed their systems in smart TVs made by Samsung and LG.

It’s just a start, but for media buyers who have been waiting for true interactive advertising to come to TV, marketers are taking connected TVs as an ad platform pretty seriously these days, as opposed to thinking of it as something coming sometime in the not-too-near future.

“I think this show has become a much advertising-based venue than in past years,” Jeff Siegel, SVP, Global Media Sales, said at Rovi’s booth at Caeser’s Palace, which had nearly two dozen sets displaying the company’s various features. “The top planners, buyers and marketers are all here. As it relates to us, there seems to be a nice groundswell about connected devices and multi-platform, second-screen usage.”

TV Guidance: Search and discovery seems like the same thing, but there are nuances between the two, Siegel noted. “Search is about ‘I know what I want to watch, just help me find it in an intuitive way,’” he said. “We do that through the guides and through the devices. That’s been our bread and butter and we’ve done that for a long time. Discovery is about, ‘You liked this, so you might also want to watch this show and that show.’ On that end, we do have a lot of data in terms of what people want to watch and how they’re interacting with their set-top box, how they’re interacting with their connected TV. The next bucket of data is how they’re interacting with the ads.”

Targeting: There are also a lot of nuances around the ability to target. Siegel hastens to say that Rovi doesn’t do any one-to-one targeting through its TV apps and interactive ads. But every time a consumer presses a button on a set with a Rovi embed, the company knows how they’re interacting with content.

“From an advertising standpoint, we don’t do one-to-one targeting – there’s a lot of sensitivity around that,” Siegel said. “But we do find people opting-in, but we aggregate that data and can start to target consumers in general. That’s the first question we get: can you help me target my advertising? Marketers especially want to target consumers who already buy their products in a different way then the consumers who don’t. The nice thing about the connected TVs is that we have an internet connection in the back of the set, meaning we have an IP address, and we can bundle those IP addresses together and serve those ads to people who fall into a certain cluster based on zip code, state or country.”

Standardization is needed: The streamlining of the number of premium online ad units recognized by the Interactive Advertising Bureau and the Online Publishers Association over the past year the was meant to address was that there were too many ad units. Online advertisers tended not to spend to much on a campaign, because they would often have to create a separate ad for different sites – something that is likely to be deemed wasteful and inefficient by the marketer.

At this point, the smart TV ad space is too small, too new for standards. So, to encourage spending across the various sets and formats, Rovi promises to do the heavy lifting for advertisers and agencies by offering 23 different ad units that it creates in-house for clients.

“When we sell an ad campaign, we have to build out an ad 23 different times,” Siegel said. “It really reminds me of the early days of the internet. In those days, the agencies didn’t really know, from a creative standpoint, how to build those campaigns. They didn’t have the assets, they didn’t have the expertise. Over time, that creative ability was pushed on to the agency – and they wanted to take it on and they ultimately felt ready. That’s going to happen in the interactive TV space as well. But for now, we handle that for them with our in-house creative development team in Tulsa.”

Leaning backwards, forwards: One thing all the changes occurring around TV is whether the medium a lean-forward mode like the web or if it will retain its traditional lean-back and watch character. Siegel believes TV will still remain a lean-back experience – especially if models like LG’s voice-responsive sets take off. The point is, viewers don’t want to work that hard to watch something that will hold their interest.

“The lean-back attitude will remain, but to a lesser degree than it used to be,” Siegel said. “What we find is that people are leaning forward, asking themselves what they want to watch. Or we find that people are watching something and they want to know more. For example, if they’re watching a cooking show or see a commercial, they likely would like to see a recipe. Or if someone is watching a business news channel, they probably want greater information about their stocks. And as a result of those kinds of demands from viewers, you can be more effective than simply showing them a traditional 30-second spot, by offering something more contextually targeted.”

By David Kaplan

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January 19, 2012 – 7:53 am

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