Initiative Rolls Out Engagement Tool

Aug 8, 2005  •  Post A Comment

Media agency Initiative plans to present to clients this week a new tool that serves as a sort of matchmaker for marketers and content that might be well suited to their brand’s message.

Known as Advizr, the new software application has the look and feel of a video game, letting clients turn virtual knobs and dials to program the brand values they want to convey in their messages and then link up with the television shows that are most closely aligned with those ideals. The application also can link marketers with so-called “emerging touch points” for those shows, such as e-mail newsletters, video-on-demand content or online outtakes.

The thinking is that in today’s increasingly fragmented media world, marketers will want to align with TV content across the board and not just in the on-air program. That’s because the most highly engaged viewers immerse themselves in a show, said Stacey Lynn Koerner, executive VP and director of global research integration at Initiative Media. Engaged viewers also are more inclined to read magazine articles about their favorite shows, download cellphone avatars related to the content, engage in text-message polls about it and play interactive games, Ms. Koerner said.

Those are the places where marketers are going to want to plant their messages too.

“If they avoid your 30-second announcement, you have to find ways to use the content that enables their engagement and doesn’t disrupt their experience,” she said.

In fact, this concept of engagement is growing as a marker for effectiveness of ads, with networks such as Court TV even promising clients that viewers will be engaged with the ads.

“Most of the industry is looking at engagement,” Ms. Koerner said. “You need to find engaged audiences to avoid being in content where a high amount of viewers will skip your ads. If they are engaged they won’t skip or avoid ads.”

Initiative hopes Advizr will help elicit activity in the emerging media space because it quantifies and delineates the new media opportunities for clients.

“We want more clients to be working with emerging media over the next year, because we truly believe that is where the future is moving, and they need to develop expertise in those areas, and we need to develop metrics around all those touch points. It’s a statement about how we feel about the future,” Ms. Koerner said.

Traditionally, agencies have measured and quantified new media opportunities in separate silos, but Advizr brings them all into one source. It includes a database with 627 TV programs across broadcast, cable and syndication. Initiative compiled the database of upcoming programs and brand extensions by contacting all networks and syndicators that deliver at least a 0.5 household rating.

Three Types of Data

Advizr is like a recommendation engine for TV shows, said Alan Schulman, chief creative officer with Brand New World, a creative agency that helped build the tool for Initiative. Advizr is built on three types of data: Simmons database research on product usage, Nielsen demographics data and Initiative’s own proprietary research from its work with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to determine engagement in particular shows through duration of viewing, loyalty of viewing and other factors.

Using Advizr, advertisers can select the brand attributes they want to express using a highly visual, intuitive interface. Media buyers and planners are consumers, too, and Advizr is supposed to be much easier to use and more fun than poring over reports and spreadsheets, Mr. Schulman said.

Once a client enters the brand attributes, Advizr delivers a list of shows that align with those values. The client then moves to a second screen with information on the show and a list of all the new media extensions. That includes 27 possible emerging media touch points. Not all shows have all those offerings; Advizr lists what’s available and what’s to come for each show. It also includes a glossary explaining what those touch points are.

Here’s how a client would use Advizr: A clothing maker seeking to reach women 18 to 34 could enter those demographic parameters and then input brand attributes such as “cool,” “design” and “passion.” The tool might then recommend UPN’s “America’s Next Top Model,” for instance, along with emerging touch points for that show, such as rich e-mail reminders, streaming media, live chat, message boards and e-commerce merchandise.

Initiative has shown Advizr to a few clients and plans to introduce it into the agency and to all its advertisers in the next few months, getting it out first to clients who already are investing in new media platforms. “We are moving the model from only buying spots in TV to other ways to create experiences for consumers with television content,” Ms. Koerner said.

Advertisers have been driving to find measures or indications of relevance for their ads, said Lynn Bolger, executive VP of agency development at online research company comScore Media Metrix. “As media becomes more fragmented, there really is a push to become more sophisticated about the thinking,” she said.

Among the new media touch points listed in Advizr are synchronous PC applications such as games and trivia, addressable targeting, cellphone avatars, outtakes, HDTV broadcast, broadcast over broadband, rich e-mail reminders, message boards, text-message polling, voice reminders, cellphone wallpaper, cellphone ring tones, mobisodes, video-on-demand and point-of-purchase kiosks.