We recently launched the Civis Media Optimizer — bringing the precision of digital to the scale of TV. But the proof is in the execution. So I want to provide a glimpse into the work through the eyes of Discovery Communications, one of our customers using Civis Media Optimizer. In a time when television consumption is changing, it’s even more critical to find the right people more efficiently.
Prior to working with the application directly, the team at Discovery has been working with the services team at Civis Analytics. It’s great to see them using Civis Media Optimizer as a stand alone tool to make their own data-driven decisions. I recently had the opportunity to sit down with Regina Sommese, the Media Director for Discovery Agency, the in-house media agency, where I asked her about how she uses the Civis Media Optimizer. Regina works on the Media Strategy and Analytics team in the Media Lab, focusing on audience and bid-based buying in addition to research and audience development for paid campaigns and owned assets.
Why did you start using the Civis Media Optimizer?
We were lucky enough to be a customer through the services division at Civis Analytics when we then learned about the Civis Media Optimizer application and could optimize all of our media buys. As they were gearing up to launch the application on the Civis data science platform, we opted in to become a beta partner to see if the tool could really optimize our buys. And sure enough, it does!
There are two reasons the Civis Media Optimizer is a good fit for Discovery. First, the type of planning we do, focuses on the audience first. Using the Civis Media Optimizer, we can find viewers based on past viewing behaviors, which we believe is one of the best ways to find new viewers. Second, our type of buying has evolved to rely on data science to optimize our TV buys. We’ve learned that in addition to looking at the largest networks, we should also look into unexpected networks to find those new viewers. It doesn’t matter where we find our viewers, what matters is that we’ve found them. And often times, they aren’t necessarily watching in the most expected places.
How were you determining ad spend and cross channel promotion prior to using the Civis Media Optimizer?
We used a number of planning tools to determine ad spend before the Civis Media Optimizer. Historically, these tools would look at a specific audience and identify the networks that tend to over index against that audience. From there, we would allocate GRPs against those network suggestions. While this worked, it was not nearly as dynamic and extensive as the Civis Media Optimizer application. With Civis, we get network, daypart and specific program recommendations for a wider range of networks. I haven’t come across another tool that provides that level of specificity when it comes to making recommendations.
Does your whole team use the application?
The media team uses it to optimize our paid campaigns and owned assets — the networks within the Discovery portfolio. Getting the team up and running was easy — it’s a very intuitive tool that’s easy to use and quickly provides recommendations.
Can you give an example of how you’ve used the Civis Media Optimizer?
We recently launched a campaign to drive viewership for a specific program on one of our networks. In planning the campaign with the Civis Media Optimizer, we discovered many of our viewers were watching unexpected networks that we could then advertise on. By advertising based on those recommendations, we saw a 10% increase in tune-in conversation from 2014 to 2015 for that series.
What surprised you most about what you were doing before using the Civis Media Optimizer and what you do today?
The most surprising thing was the dayparts and networks that the application recommended. It’s not about how and where we reach our viewers — it just matters that we reach them. In the past, we’d focus on five or so networks, but when you buy based on audience, it’s not about which network you advertise on, it’s about finding your viewers wherever they are.
Any advice for others getting started with the Civis Media Optimizer?
Jump right in and get started! There are so many different levers you can pull when optimizing – play with the variables and see what happens. Also, don’t just stop at one A/B test. A/B/C test and compare audiences to see what’s best. The application is very intuitive so don’t be afraid to try different combinations.
Also, the team at Civis Analytics is always happy to help and is so easy to work with. You’ll find the application is so easy to use that you won’t need their help, but if you do, they’re always there.
Just for fun, what are your thoughts on the future of TV?
It all comes back to content — it doesn’t matter what screen you are watching on. As a network, it’s critical that we create content that is valuable to our viewers. As long as we continue to do that, our consumers will continue to watch.
As someone who used to support media directors like Regina, I know how hard it is to find the right audience. I love hearing about the improvements driven by Civis Media Optimizer, like the tune-in conversation rates Regina mentioned, as well as our tool helping planners and buyers think outside of the box.