LOAC 2017

Collaboration Key To CBS’s Digital Strategy

Ezra Kucharz, a special adviser to CBS CEO Les Moonves on digital matters, spells out what his company is doing to succeed digitally. Among them are becoming adept at collecting and using data about media usage and hiring digital experts to run digital ventures, not legacy media experts.

Legacy media seeking success as digital media have to focus, get buy in from the top down and do what they can with the resources they have, said Ezra Kucharz, a special advisor to CBS CEO Les Moonves on digital matters.

“That is the only ways this is going to work,” he said during a talk at the Borrell Local Online Advertising Conference in New York on Monday.

With “so much noise” generated by vendors and myriad choices, focus can be difficult, he said. Companies don’t know what’s best so they do too much and hope for the best. “Hope is not a strategy.”

Getting buy-in across a company is also tough, he said. “When you talk to broadcast news directors or director of sales you hear the same thing, ‘I am not going to worry about this digital thing. It’s not really impacting my business.'”

Resources are important, but companies cannot use lack of them as an excuse, he said. “”Embrace your resource constraints…. It’s about getting stuff done.”

CBS’s strategy has evolved over the years from de-centralized, to centralized and now collaborative “where we involved folks in local markets more in product and sales decisions.”


If you allow local managers do whatever they want, you are going to fail, he said. “It has to be collaborative.”

In plotting strategy, he said, companies should not rely too heavily on focus groups or surveys. “The focus group will tell you everything they think you want to hear.”

Better are companies like Futuri, which “listen” to what people are actually talking about in social media. “In other words, they may tell you they want to hear about the town council, but what they really want to hear about is the Trump administration and Russia.”

And, finally, he said, companies have to become adept at collecting and using data about media usage.

“You have your broadcast data, you have your digital data,” he said. “You need to aggregate all those pieces together so that you can deliver your advertiser’s or marketing partner’s message to the place it works more effectively.”

Kucharz last bit of advice was to hire digital experts to run digital ventures, not legacy media experts. “Digital is not a hobby….It’s incredibly complicated.”

“Why are you taking people out of your newsroom and sales teams and having them run your digital business when they have no experience, no expertise?”

To make his point, he showed a slide with two pictures — one with the NBA champion Cleveland Cavaliers; the other with MLB champion Chicago Cubs.

Although they are great at basketball, the Cavs could not beat the worst team in baseball, he said. “The opposite is true, too. They are all great athletes, but the Cubs are never going to beat the Cavs in basketball.”

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