TECH SPOTLIGHT

Analytics Enhance Sales Software, Revenue

As competition escalates for all advertising dollars, vendors and broadcasters see analytics embedded in various kinds of sales management software as a way to harvest harder-to-reach revenue. And with digital channels, websites and mobile apps, the complexity of tracking and analyzing what’s happening in multiple markets grows exponentially.

Sales management software — a broad category that encompasses tools for prospecting, preparing pitches, transacting business and managing spots — has been in long use. But now it’s now incorporating increasingly sophisticated analytics intended to help account executives and managers know their markets more thoroughly than ever before and maximize revenue.

With multiplatform distribution of broadcast content growing by leaps and bounds, “the feedback from analytics is going to be important,” says Joe Zaller of Devoncroft Partners, a market research firm. “Everything is getting faster so analytics are increasingly important.”

As competition escalates for all advertising dollars, vendors and broadcasters see analytics as a way to harvest harder-to-reach revenue.

“Analytics … shows us where the inventory lies and where inventory gets the most success,” says Mike Braun, digital VP at Gray Television. “We’re able to break it down very quickly. There’s no waiting till the end of month to get reports any more.”

With digital channels, websites and mobile apps, Braun says, the complexity of tracking and analyzing what’s happening in multiple markets grows exponentially.

“It is important as we grow to funnel all this information into one source,” Braun says. “It allows us to customize reports for each of our stations. You can log into one account and very quickly see what each of their products is doing in their markets. It’s one-stop shopping for advertising executives.”

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Gray uses Google Analytics to mine and dissect that data.

Traffic systems incorporate some level of analytics.

“The key thing for us is being able to service our clients with more information that will help them manage their businesses better,” says Diane Perro, director of corporate marketing at WideOrbit.

“We’ve really been drilling down on developing better reporting within our software. We realized we needed to take it up several notches so we got into developing analytics solutions. It takes reporting to a completely different level with business intelligence.”

WO Analytics — software “guaranteed to work with every release of WideOrbit products” — is the company’s response.

Harris OSi’s NetGain Analytics is designed with similar functionality.

But because traffic systems typically track only actual sales and invoices, it’s challenging for any inboard analytics to show what it happening at the moment or help in making projections.

“Traffic systems are good at placing spots, handling accounts receivable,” says Ed Salgado, president of OneDomain, whose MediaOffice is widely used for transacting sales. “But, historically, they haven’t been real good at showing the top five account executives, pending dollars and budgets. All that, right now, is the big push.”

To meet the need for more and better analytics, OneDomain less than a year ago introduced Empire CRM, customer relationship management software that integrates with WideOrbit and Harris OSi traffic systems and that can provide snapshots not only on what has aired, but what is budgeted and what is pending.

“That’s how we were able to get into the analytics side, so we could tell what’s happening at micro level as well as macro level,” Salgado says.

“Traffic systems typically don’t interface with Nielsen,” Salgado adds. “That’s where our expertise comes in. One of the important things in broadcast television is selling against cable.

“If you’re selling Tide, you need to reach as many females 25-54 because that’s your target market. I need to be able to show I’m reaching those females. We call it share of voice — if you advertise on my station, you’ll reach more than on CNN News. Also, I need to be able to show what is the average cost per point to advertise in primetime versus daytime and what values are there in that.” This is not analytics, this is sales data.

OneDomain has teamed with BroadView Software to offer MediaOffice and BroadView in a combo package BroadView calls OneSolution, an integrated traffic, sales and programming suite rich in analytics.

The first big customer was Canadian radio broadcaster Astral Communications.“They took a little bit of a flyer on it,” acknowledges Broadview President Michael Atkin. “Now, they look back on it with nothing but happiness on the choice they made.”

The experience with Astral prompted BroadView to launch OneSolution in U.S. markets.

“It’s no longer just a bunch of big sales; it’s small ones, too,” Atkin says. “There’s more granularity appearing in the market every day. A local TV station may have 3,000 advertisements and needs to understand what’s important for each one of those. That’s the plumbing you can do in the analytic world.”

At Storer TV, where the historical focus has been on program and rights management software, “analytics is something we’re actively involved in,” says Peter Storer, president and founder. When a station is deciding what to schedule in a particular time slot — news, first-run syndicated show, off-net sitcom — it has a number of choices to make to maximum return on investment, he says.

“Each comes with different spot loads. It really depends on what the sales situation is, lead-ins and lead-outs. If you know cost per points based on historical performance, you can drop those numbers in and come up with reasonable expectation of what the show is going to deliver on return on investment for that half-hour or hour time slot. You get the idea that if you change one item how that rolls out across a quarter.”

CRM software like Empire CRM is becoming more pervasive in broadcasting and it opens the door on sales analytics.

“CRM in general is really starting to take hold,” says D.J. Cavanaugh, CEO of Matrix, a CRM-analytics vendor. “People are starting to understand CRMs. I think in the past people thought of CRM as contact management. They’re starting to understand that CRM is contact management, tracking activities with revenue analytics and key data points.

“Good CRM gives data points you need, but also addresses what else that customer is doing in market — what do they spend and what is their potential,” Cavanaugh adds.

Incorporating analytics into CRM makes it an even more valuable tool, he notes.

Gray Television uses Matrix at 14 of its 34 stations, says Christine Schwieterman, corporate traffic manager for Gray.

“One of the biggest benefits that we see with Matrix is the opportunity to do standardized corporate reporting,” she says. “Some of the reports available to us in the traffic system are not as all encompassing as we would like them to be. We’ve found Matrix to be much more flexible. Executives know what’s pending, what’s forecast, who meetings are set up with, just by going into Matrix.”

Such software comes in particularly handy given the churn in account executives because it allows a quick handoff of contact and account information. But television broadcasters are only now beginning to adopt CRMs, many say.

“One of the things I find interesting is that broadcasters and networks are late to the game in CRM,” says WideOrbit’s Perro. “Traffic controllers used to be gods, you had to go through them for everything. Sales now is the next focus.”

But in the dynamic tension between Old School and New School, some account executives are resisting adopting CRM tools, Salgado says.

“The problem everybody has had so far at the front end is getting account executives to input the data,” he says. “Account executives are paid on commission, they’re not paid to input data. And sales managers are hired and fired based on making budget so they want those account executives out selling.”

AdMall, another player in the sales management system space, focuses on what it calls a consultative approach using business intelligence on local advertisers.

“It’s not the kind of intelligence you can get from Dun & Bradstreet,” says Lee Smith, AdMall CEO.

Nor is it exactly analytics, Smith says. Instead, it’s a compilation of secondary research designed to bring account executives up to speed about a particular business before calling on that advertiser.

“The trend we are seeing is that because after the recession some sales teams are not as large as they used to be, the idea right now is to improve the efficiencies and effectiveness of the teams we have,” Smith says.

AdMall can be integrated into an existing CRM, Smith says, but is effective as a standalone product.

“I’ll bluntly state that the ideal CRM for television advertising sales hasn’t been invented yet,” he says. “The ideal integrates business intelligence along with being able to get granular down to the advertiser level. I see dissatisfaction with CRM such that account executives just don’t want to use it. They see it as something management is using to check up on them with and beat them over the heads with at sales meetings.”


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Greg Doggett says:

May 26, 2012 at 1:34 am

Finding a product feature that tracks effectiveness of cross-platform campaigns could help advertisers understand ROI in real time. Posting TV ratings projections to actuals, web and mobile impressions is a first step. Capturing consumer data with customized SMS tags on different creative will build valuable databases that elude the broadcast industry in a meaningful way. Upgrades to single medium dashboards will not help local media catch-up with the important data that competitors enjoy to iterate products/features to meet customer shifts.


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