How Time, Inc. Uses Data to Deliver Better Content, Stronger ROI

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Q: What kind of data can you share about video viewing?

Our video stats across all platforms exceeded 1 billion for the first time in one quarter in our third quarter [of 2016], up approximately 200 percent from last year. Our digital video unique visitors grew 38 percent year-on-year, and our social footprint expanded 45 percent from last year.

Q: What kind of content is successful, and where are you seeing it viewed?

Short-form does really well on the web and on social. Shorter-short form, like 45 seconds, does pretty well on Facebook. Before the medium was 2 minutes; now I think we have a lot more in terms of range. We have longer-form video, live content where it’s a full cooking show with 10 minutes of commentary that then plays VOD after it’s been shown. ... We also launched our People/Entertainment Weekly OTT network, which is a foray into true long-form content, and these are 30-minute shows on OTT platforms. ... We’re watching our brands come to life in true long-form TV.

Q: How does data influence your creative and technical teams?

At The Foundry, which is our native studio, we start with social listening. We have our own proprietary data from the 150 million people who come to our site every month. We crawl key words and trends across the entire internet, Twitter, social sphere, hashtags, etc., to see what people are talking about. This is the same methodology our editors use when they go to think about what story they’re writing, what angle they’re going after. That is how The Foundry starts its work product, and it’s entirely data-driven before you even get to the creative idea generation.

Q: Looking into your crystal ball, what is the future for video and Time, Inc.?

I think we’re going to see a lot of people go direct to consumer with bundles. I think there’s going to be a lot of activity in SVOD, which is going to be fascinating because a lot of those companies have never gone direct to consumer before.

I think Facebook is going to continue to grow their footprint in video aggressively. They are pretty open about that, and I can imagine Facebook becoming a very forward experience or creating another experience that is video forward. I would say we are watching that carefully in anticipation of big moves there.

From Time, Inc., you should expect us to be an aggressive attacker and entrant in the next few years in video. The level of disruption that is about to happen to TV and video is so big and such a big opportunity for folks like us, you should expect to see more from us as an attacker in the space.

Sidebar: Interview with Jon Schulz, CMO of Viant

Jon Schulz is chief marketing officer at Viant, which was acquired by Time, Inc. in March 2016.

Q: What is the Viant advertising cloud?

Viant has three components. Identity management platform, our data component. Our media execution, which is serving and delivering the ads. Then our data and analytics, which is the measurement aspect; that’s how we service our clients and brand marketers.

Q: Cookie versus identity data?

From a data perspective, our advertisers look to data ... to determine how effective that advertising is. ... You’ve serve[d] an ad, did she take an action, did she go into the store and purchase? Did she go online and purchase? We refer to it as closed loop measurement.

The idea of the advertising is to drive some action, and the ability to measure that when the user is largely anonymous (based on cookie measurement) or you don’t know who it is, you’re kind of guessing and hoping. In a deterministic, people-based (data-driven) world, there is a lot more certainty to know outcome, to know cause and effect.

Q: Where is all this data coming from?

There are tremendous sources of data. There’s Rentrak (cable set top box) and TV data, there’s ACR data coming straight from the TV itself. We feel like ACR is really strong because of OTT. The cable box doesn’t capture the stuff coming over IP. When it comes to data, your job is never done; there’s always new and better sources out there. ...There’s tons and tons of data; it’s really how you’re able to harness that data. How you are able to tie that data back to specific users and really understand from a targeting perspective in addressing the right audience, but also outcomes. What did the consumer ultimately do? Did they buy your product or service?

[This article appears in the January/February 2017 issue of Streaming Media Magazine as "Time, Inc. Is All About the Data."]

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