Data Drives Some Talk at Upfront Presentations

NEW YORK — Amid all the new shows being launched at upfront presentations last week, there were some announcements made about the way advanced advertising techniques could help networks sell products.

At ESPN, big data about the emotions of sports fans and real-time information about what’s happening in games are being tapped to create more effective advertising.

ESPN’s analytics team broke down games into emotional triggers, said Vikram Somaya, senior vice president and global data officer. More than 700 triggers can happen over a single NFL game, he said. That data was overlaid on the millions of fans who connect with ESPN.

ESPN mapped those fans and all of the emotions they could be feeling during a game — triumph, happiness, anticipation, dismay and more. Then it got together with its sponsors. Coors Light tapped into fans’ moments of anticipation, running emotion-related, tailored messaging, before, after and during games. The ads drove a 16% lift in brand consideration, including a 31% increase during pregame.

Ed Erhardt, president, global sales and marketing at ESPN, said emotional databased sales are a small part of ESPN’s business, but with 30 advertisers now employing it, it is likely to grow.

At Turner, ad sales president Donna Speciale talked about the need to improve advertising. “Television is still the most powerful medium for your marketing message,” she said. “But I think we can agree our industry was in need of a reinvention.

“Helping our partners thrive starts with creating the right experiences for our fans, so two years ago we announced reduced commercials in primetime, first on truTV and later on TNT,” Speciale said. “That investment is paying off with powerful results in three key areas: deeper engagement, increased brand awareness, and increased sales versus the traditional pods. Now I understand you’re tired of paying more for less. Well now, consider paying more for more.”

Jon Lafayette

Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.