Is Linda Yaccarino TV’s Gandhi?

At last year’s NBCU Summit attended by competing TV executives, Linda Yaccarino did the unpopular, but courageous thing for the TV industry.

She said: “we’ve got a problem.” It was quote that personified the day (perhaps the decade).
“We’ve got to fix this mess we’re in,” she continued.

Yaccarino said Comcast was willing to consider adopting new measures of advertising effectiveness, and “we might even reduce commercial load across the board.”

Be The Change You Want To See Happen (Gandhi)

It was Yaccarino’s Gandhi moment.


  • To admit publicly that TV has a problem.
  • To cast aspersions upon the outdated currency of Nielsen.
  • To propose new measures of advertising effectiveness.
  • To lower ad load.
  • To stand up and swim against the tide (currently riding the wave of short term revenue by simply raising CPMs).

The Elephant In The Room = Digital

These TV media sellers assembled to combat the mountain of data that digital offers (compared to lagging data TV offers).

TV is nine years behind digital in performance data.

The reasons?

TV has provided the same delivery reports for years: your GRP’s, how many units were delivered, your cost per unit, your cost per GRP. It’s the same report delivered since created on a typewriter.

Because TV hasn’t delivered ROI reporting that digital strives for (even though digital measurement suffers from last click, viewability, fraud, no cross-device, and no cross-channel attribution) advertisers are holding TV spend flat (for now)…and placing more dollars in digital.

Digital is also easier to buy: a few keystrokes in your Google Adwords Account, and presto, you got digital.

P&G’s Marc Pritchard has discovered that 75 cents of every dollar spent on digital never makes it to the consumer. But intelligence isn’t distributed evenly.

A lot of advertisers and agencies want easy and simple. Stuff that won’t get them fired.

TV’s 70% Thorn = Creative

Oracle’s Moat Co-Founder Jonah Goodhart hit the bulls eye: “consumers don’t hate advertising, consumers hate bad advertising.”

Bingo. TV’s biggest thorn is the TV creative produced by the advertiser.

According to Chief Research Officer at CBS Television David Poltrack, TV creative + messaging = 70% of the impact of TV advertising.

Translation: put an awful TV spot in 30 seconds of TV media, and you’ll get an awful result.

But put a great TV spot in 30 seconds of media, and results will be amazing.

So if TV media companies plan to sell media based on an outcome formula…those very TV media sellers may end up giving away TV for free if the creative does not deliver.

Is there a solution?

Imagine if an auto dealer in Delaware knew his creative = 36 index to all auto dealer ads nationwide.

That Delaware auto dealer now knows it’s not TV media that’s let him down…it’s the creative.

Furthermore, that same auto dealer might be able to take a look at an auto dealer in Nevada with a 136 Index and discover what they’re doing right versus giving up on TV and moving more ad dollars to digital.

Creative is the key to making TV media work…or wilt.

Creative = Two Way Street

If TV wants to compete with digital and be judged on outcomes: it’s a two-way street.

If a creative threshold metric is not met by the advertiser, the TV advertiser should pay the normal CPM rate (or perhaps a higher cost similar to Google paid search when quality score is low).

Thus, a creative threshold metric places performance metrics on the advertiser.

But before blazing to imitate digital and deliver lagging metrics TV desperately needs to prove itself in the upper funnel…it begins with creative. Today (and since 2012) it can be measured down to the penny with TV attribution.

TV Ad Load More = Lesser?

In attendance at the ‘Be The Change‘ NBCU Summit was Brian Lesser.

Brian Lesser left GroupM and the Xaxis digital programmatic world for the world of TV at AT&T, now building its automated addressable TV and video advertising platform.

While Comcast’s AudienceXpress platform is the closest to programmatic buying in TV, Lesser may leapfrog Comcast’s legacy AX technology.

The irony: the software for AudienceXpress was paid for by Google when Google was selling household level TV advertising through DIRECTV years ago.

Now, DIRECTV is owned by AT&T, where Lesser is creating a bigger, better, faster version of Comcast’s AX (originally Google’s TV software).

Ad Load?

Google’s king of ad load. Back in the days when cheap, mobile cost per clicks plagued Google’s earnings calls.

Lower cost per click in search for Google as mobile search mix grows?

No problem for Google: it simply turns the dial on two knobs:

  1. Quality Score
  2. Ad Load

In Google’s case, they actually increased Ad Load in paid search. More ads.

But its dynamic technology that allows bidding in paid search. Technology that allows easy creative measurement (and easy creative changes) in paid search.

The very (advanced) technology that TV currently lacks…and the very (advanced) technology that Brian Lesser at AT&T is building today.

Charge higher CPM’s for an in-market truck buyer on TV (delivered with programmatic-like technology). This can earn enough money for TV media sellers to make Yaccarino’s scary statement of reducing TV ad load not so scary.

In fact, HH addressable TV may be 6% cheaper than digital programmatic display.

Yes, Virginia.

Happiness = What You Think + What You Say + What You Do In Harmony

The Beatles said “happiness is a warm gun,” but Gandhi had a different view.

Gandhi said happiness is when: what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.

Yaccarino said TV execs can’t continue without a “meaningful plan for action.”

To act on:

  • Admitting TV has a problem.
  • Casting aspersions upon an outdated currency of Nielsen.
  • Proposing new measures of advertising effectiveness.
  • Lowering ad load.

Who: will be the change we want to see happen?

Say versus Do.