Advanced Advertising: GroupM's Bologna Says "Keep It Simple"

Clients with limited bandwidth are flooded every day with information from the emerging TV landscape. And while they appreciate the different opportunities available to them, they have a simple question: "How do we know if it works?" said GroupM Emerging Media Director Michael Bologna at B&C/Multichannel News' event Advanced Advertising: The Future Is Now Feb. 22 at New York's Roosevelt Hotel.

That's a considerable challenge for addressable advertising executives to overcome since Bologna cautioned, "There's no new advertising dollars," meaning any money going to addressable has to come out of the budget from another ad space.

Bologna said the Comcast/NBC Universal deal has the potential to help advanced advertising move forward. Since targeted ads require a distributor, content provider and technology vendor, "you've got two of the three in that marriage of Comcast and NBCU," he said.

"Addressable advertising is without a doubt the future of the business we're in," Bologna told the crowd at the Roosevelt Hotel. "The problem is there's so many players within this ecosystem." Due to that, Bologna said the hardest part of his job is educating GroupM's client base. After the results of Starcom MediaVest and Comcast Spotlight's addressable trial in Baltimore, Bologna said he had 150 phone calls from clients wondering how the experiment might change the environment.

He said the Baltimore trial constituted a "successful addressable experiment" but said more tests are necessary to drive home how addressable can work for advertisers who have been slow to get involved in the space. GroupM also has its own trials in place.

Metrics for success in addressable advertising vary based on clients. With the bigger brands GroupM represents, it can be difficult to measure the success of addressable when compared to all the "media weight" also being considered, Bologna said, meaning it's difficult to separate the results from the effects of a media buy. He also said the cacophony of so many different ways to measure targeted ads can confuse a client and prevent them from pulling the trigger on an addressable campaign.

He agreed with the afternoon's previous panel of sales executives that targeted buys must come at a cost. "There's no doubt about it there has to be a premium," Bologna said, though he added that addressable advertising shouldn't be based solely on legacy buys.

While a lot of push and pull remains, Bologna believes in addressable as the future of TV advertising. When an advertiser says they want to reach women 18-54, he said, what they may really mean is "I want to reach women 30-45 who make $60,000 or more and have three kids." Ultimately addressable ads will target the precise audience and reduce waste, but, as Bologna said, "It takes a lot to pull off a stunt like that."