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Making a Case for Set-Top Box Data Over Ratings Numbers

Mandel, who was recently named CEO of PrecisionDemand, a TV ad targeting and
measuring company, has spent more than three decades in the media agency
business. After 22 years at Grey Advertising, where he rose to director of
national broadcast, and 10 years as chairman and CEO of MediaCom, he left the
agency business to become CEO of Nielsen Connect, the division of Nielsen formed
to create new services and products built around the measurement data.

as one of the most outspoken executives in the media agency business, Mandel talked
to B&C contributing editor John
Consoli about the role he sees PrecisionDemand playing in the television
advertising media buying landscape.

motivated you to get back into the daily grind of the media ad buying business
by taking this position as CEO of PrecisionDemand?
system they have in place at PrecisionDemand is one that I've been looking for
my entire career and now I've found it. I'm looking to make this job my legacy
in the business. No one, including the media agencies, has the data, the
resources or the scientists that we do. Our special sauce is not in the media
buy but in knowing who the customers are for each specific brand and how to
best reach them. Our system is the Holy Grail in advertising. There is not a
media agency buyer right now capable of doing what we do. It's just a totally
different way of operating than what they are used to. I've been in the agency
business my whole life and I have not seen anything like this.

makes your system so different?

First of all, we have so much data. So much set-top box and other data that
goes beyond simple TV ratings. We ask our client who the target audience is for
a specific brand. Then we target that audience with ad buys. But our data is so
sophisticated that we can predict how much in sales the client's brand will do
based on the TV buy they make. There is very little waste. We can show our
clients how a TV buy can be cheaper than an online buy if they do it right. You
don't buy audience clusters. You fine-tune the buy for each brand. We ask our clients
how much in sales they want from a buy and then we make that happen. We
can provide a CMO with so much data to justify a buy that they are on the same
level as the CFO in their company.

your success rate is?
now, we don't have a client that we haven't increased their business by at
least 25% through our TV buys. Now going forward, I don't think we'll be
able to sustain that, especially for clients beyond the first year, but
right now we are doing it because the research is finally being used the right
way to buy television. Right now, we tell our clients when to buy and what to
buy. But we won't make a buy unless we can predict more business for the client
based on that buy.

cheaper is not better when it comes to buying TV advertising?
spot could actually be expensive, but as long as we project that it is reaching
the target customers and that the client will get more in sales than was paid
for the advertising, then that's OK.

set-top box date become more vital than Nielsen ratings data to advertisers?
we've learned is you can't use data from Nielsen. All Nielsen data should come
with a Surgeon General's warning. We have accumulated more set-top box data
than anyone and our latest deal with Rentrak data adds to it. If you're not
using set-top box data to plan and buy television, something is wrong with you.
Now that we have all this set-top box data, we realize how dangerous to your
business using just Nielsen data alone was. Nielsen ratings are 10-15% off for the
broadcast networks in primetime. Once you get outside of primetime or get into
the cable networks, the Nielsen data is way far off from that. I would say
advertisers would be more accurate if they picked programming randomly. The
Nielsen sample is too small and it does not go deep enough demographically.
With so many channel options today, you need to get more fine-tuned information
about the audience that's watching.

are your clients?
now we are working directly with advertisers. We have our own research people,
as well as planners and buyers.

you are competing with the media agencies?
right now we are. Maybe someday we will have them as clients. Maybe three or
four years down the road, an agency might want us to train their people to use
our system, and we might do it. The agencies will tell their clients they can
do what we do with all the set-top box data, but they really can't. If Starcom
would have used our system, they would never have lost the General Motors

now, PrecisionDemand only deals with TV ad buys?
PrecisionDemand has been quietly buying TV advertising for its clients for two
years now, but we are going to start to get more aggressive and make a lot of
noise. Eventually, we could move into online video or even radio ad buying. But
right now there is so much opportunity in television. For us, it's low hanging