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Volume 23 No. 29
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Ad buyers have to think differently

Advertisers will fail if they try to re-create their television buying strategies in digital, according to several panelists on an entertaining panel about branded content at last week’s Monumental Sports & Entertainment’s Innovation and Technology summit in Washington, D.C.

Digital is a place where media buyers need to take more risks to back good programming and worry less about audience size.

“Some of the best branded content out there is being done by brave brand managers who don’t sit around and ask, ‘What are the eyeballs out there,’” said Robert Friedman, CEO of Bungalow Media and Entertainment. “The good news about digital is that you can make the numbers work.”

As an example, Friedman said that he spends a lot of time with companies that try to figure out the financial value of a view, a share and a like in a digital environment.

“I can just tell you that, at the end of the day, that’s all being made up,” he said.

That’s where ad buyers have to think differently. Unlike television, the overall number of views does not mean as much as the number of people interacting with content through likes, comments and shares.

“We are in a shift of focus,” said Jennifer van Dijk, vice president of team marketing and business operations for the NBA. “Now, actually, you can go and say how many people engaged with you. It’s a fundamentally different marketing story. With that comes a fundamentally different value — one that is particularly ripe in the sports space because we serve such a premium sports fan.”

As an example, Friedman referenced Grey Goose Entertainment, which formed in 2005 as a way to get the vodka brand on television at a time when liquor brands could not advertise. Grey Goose Entertainment produced music and TV shows, like Sundance Channel’s “Iconoclasts.” Friedman said brands looking to move into the digital environment should mirror that kind of innovative decision.

“It was far more efficient,” he said. “They did their ROI analysis, and it was through the roof. I have no idea how they did it. In digital, there are these projects and programs and valuations that never can be done on a computer that you really have to take a chance with because you just know they are right.”

— John Ourand