James Kotecki (00:08):
This is CES Tech Talk. I'm James Kotecki, bringing you an interview that I recorded live at the C Space Studio at CES 2023. Enjoy.
Hi, I am James Kotecki. You are in the C Space Studio at CES 2023 and with us, Andrea Zapata of Warner Brothers Discovery. You are the Executive Vice President. I'm going to read this. Executive vice President, head of Ad Sales Research at Warner Brothers Discovery. Welcome.
Andrea Zapata (00:37):
Thank you so much. I'm so delighted to be here, and that is a mouthful. Job well done.
James Kotecki (00:41):
Well, how do you define your title and your role as you just think about it colloquially as someone that you might meet here at CES?
Andrea Zapata (00:46):
Yeah. So definitely in the advertising space. Have the great privilege of working with Warner Brothers Discovery. So we have 28 linear networks. We are in the streaming environment. We have a lot of digital. We cover everything from food to HDTV to sports to news, we've got it. My job in the ad sales world, is to make sure that we are effectively measuring it, we're counting the audiences and the engaging fans that we reach. And then ultimately there's value for our really beloved advertisers and clients. Is that too easy or too weedy?
James Kotecki (01:17):
Well, of course the clients are beloved. And tell me some of the ways that you are measuring it right now, some of the trends that you are seeing. I mean that's a broad question obviously, but anything stand out to you at the beginning of 2023 that you're really thinking about?
Andrea Zapata (01:29):
Yeah. So we're actually going back to some of the basics right now as an industry, when it comes to measurement and counting. And when I say measurement and counting, it's a reached frequency play of how many, how often, how long, from an impression count. And we've had one sole provider who's done all of the counting since the beginning of time. The incumbent is actually still quite alive and well, but we've had innovation, technology, we've had bigger data sets, be it set top box and ACR, which captures viewing at a large scale, that allows us them to attribute it back to not just a person 25 to 54, but to an actual audience set. And so I say all of this because we are going to be changing the game in '23 when it comes to currency, not just at Warner Brothers Discovery, but the industry. We'll be doing this in partnership with not only comSquare video, we have iSpot, and of course Nielsen ONE, but also with our agencies and our clients.
And so this year we'll be the year that we're not just going to have alternative measurement reads, but we're actually going to do currency and transaction, which is a big deal. But ultimately what we really want to get to, and this is the beginning of your question, is how do we think about measuring not just top of the funnel brand awareness, but really start getting into site visitation and then down to conversion, which is actually the holy grail. And when we have linear and digital addressable data driven actual data that can inform with first party in our streaming environment, we can do a mix of media that gets to not just tap, but all the way down to the bottom of that funnel. So it's not easy and not every client's leaned in, but we're we're headed in a direction where we're educating.
James Kotecki (03:04):
Advertising is hard. You're not the first person to say that today at the C Space Studio. It's absolutely true.
Andrea Zapata (03:08):
It's super fun though.
James Kotecki (03:11):
How are advertisers, if you could take their temperature, feeling about all this, when you say what you just told me are, do they have some initial skepticism? Yeah, we've heard it all before. We've been trying to figure this out for decades and we think we're going to have another year of still trying to figure it out. Where are they?
Andrea Zapata (03:26):
So funny. I was just having a conversation with an agency only about 10 minutes ago where there was a lot of concern.
It's not necessarily, should we do this or why are we doing this? It's wow, this is going to be really hard to do. Why? Because it's one thing to say that we want to aspire to better measurement. And when I say better measurement, counting not just a linear view, but also a digital view, de-duping across ... It sounds very simple, but it's very complicated. We can do that now with these bigger data sets and these more innovative partners. It's the, how do we get into our systems the ability to forecast all the way to post, which sounds like everything from, how do you find an audience than actually said you delivered it. That is the hard part. And so going from one data set to now potentially four, does it mean we need more people? Does it mean we actually need to have more innovation in our stewardship systems? Yes to all of that. And it's a learning curve. So there's a little bit of fear, but also a lot of excitement, and we're doing it together. No one's doing this in a silo or in a vacuum.
James Kotecki (04:27):
And as you do all this, are new truths emerging or new understandings of the world that change your perspective and maybe even make you look retroactively and think, oh, actually, we were actually wrong about some things in the past and going forward, we're going to have a different perspective on it?
Andrea Zapata (04:40):
Yeah, that's a great question. I love that. I think that we're constantly going to learn with these new data sets. One of the things that I think is really important to note is, when you have something like 28 networks, right? In the linear environment. And then you have some of that content now moving and evolving to fast or streaming environments, where it's more on demand. You inherently think, oh, are we reaching a new audience? Are we actually extending? Is it cannibalization going on? What's happening here?
What we're learning is that it's un-duplicated, it's incremental reach. There's different ad experiences that can happen in different environments. And ultimately we can see, here's a great example at HLN right now, we have been doing marathons of the West Wing. The West Wing happened in the 1990s. Great. You're like, I'm thinking about it right now. I'll Google it later.
So here's the deal. When we started doing that, what you realize is that people were tuning into it and they were watching the shows that were being programmed for that moment, but then they went to HBO Max, where all of the library and all of the catalog exists, and they started binging it there on their own time. Now, what we looked at is that this is actually had its own unique audience. This had its own unique audience, but there was also those who discovered, and then watched the rest of it within the streaming environment, which is the way I think that God intended, right? You can binge, you should binge, but the West-
James Kotecki (06:01):
Who's God in this case, Aaron Sorkin, I guess?
Andrea Zapata (06:02):
Yeah, there we go. Which is, honestly, as soon as you say that, I'm like some of the best dialogue in that show ever.
James Kotecki (06:09):
When you think about the screens that these things are appearing on, we're obviously at CES, which is many ways a show of screens, new screens, new devices, new ways of watching, all this stuff. Does that play into the way that you think about advertisers reaching audiences? Do screens matter? And if so, are there new kinds of screens or new ways of engaging with this content coming over the horizon that you're starting to think about?
Andrea Zapata (06:28):
So some of the things that we've been thinking about specific to streaming. So right now we have HBO Max, and we have Discovery Plus. In '23, we are going to be combining and creating a new streaming service that's going to be, I think unrivaled.
James Kotecki (06:41):
And it's called Max, right?
Andrea Zapata (06:42):
Right now it's called HBO Max. And we have an ad free and also an ad supported. And so when I think we think about what is the opportunity in that space, the ad formats can be very different than what it has been at say, a traditional linear environment. In the traditional linear environment, you're going to get maybe five, seven ads per pod. In a streaming environment, you can actually have a more interesting, maybe a less ad load. You can be much more targeted to the actual viewer.
And we did something recently when we had the premiere of The Sex Lives of College Girls. We had Google who came in. They were a sponsor. And instead of just doing a brought to you by Google, we actually had characters in the show. We had outfits who could actually, Pryor said, if you want to buy my outfit or try my lipstick, Google has lenses. They actually have retail. They have the ability for you to engage in a different way.
And so when we did that, not only were we reaching a target audience, so we knew that 25% of all women 18 to 24, watched The Sex Lives of College Girls in the first two weeks of its launch. But we also knew that there was unaided awareness that went up to 74%, which was like 10 times the norm. And we also know that there was traffic engagement going off-site. So there's a different way that you can play across the spectrum of inventory and impressions and audience that we bring to the table, but it's going to be different and linear than it might be in streaming, but they complement each other.
James Kotecki (08:09):
And does that change the way that you, on the advertising side engage with the creators of these shows, to say you can, now you have this new toolkit to integrate. Obviously having a branded truck or a brand of soda in a show is not necessarily new, but this level of integration that's enabled by streaming and digitalization, I think is, it sounds like what you're saying. And so are there new tools now for show creators to play with and do you go to them with that?
Andrea Zapata (08:33):
Yeah, we do. So we have an entire arm that creates this custom content that has obviously great relationships with our content creators and with our storytellers. And we believe that this is really the unique advantage of our IP. It's what we bring to the table that is a differentiator. Not everybody is bringing episodic ... I say the storytelling that not only speaks to the heart and soul, but also brings great fashion or Greek drama or, really confusing, we were talking about Westworld earlier.
So it's one of those things where we have the privilege of working with story creators and we get to bring our advertisers along with that. So whether you want to be in a really cool sponsorship interstitial like that, or whether you want to get hyper-targeted using first party data, utilizing a clean room, we can do it all. And I think that's sort of the change that's happening in television, because the consumer, it's just television, right? No matter how they get it's just about getting that content that they want. it's on us to be able to bring that innovation to our clients.
James Kotecki (09:34):
Do you, as the head of research, have a role for you, personally, for intuition in what you're doing? Obviously there's so much. Everything is about data. Everything has to be data driven. It's increasingly data driven. But do you have that intuition ever in what you're doing? Maybe I want to check this thing out over here, and does that play a role in your job?
Andrea Zapata (09:50):
Yeah. So I think that gut is always first and foremost. It goes back to are you a fan of content and storytelling? Yes, I am. And so-
James Kotecki (09:50):
So that helps you get that intuition for-
Andrea Zapata (09:59):
I'm a lover of television, full stop. Always have been, right? And so when you think about what's going to resonate, what's going to work, but also looking at the data that allows us to say, okay, so listen, we know that a viewer's going to consume in a certain way, but can we back it up in a way that actually proves out our hypotheses? That's actually helps validate and creates confidence in how we scale certain solutions or how we bring new measurements to bear or how we derive value. But I always joke, at the end of the day, this is one of the most fun businesses because I mean, who really doesn't like to watch TV?
James Kotecki (10:31):
Exactly. One last question. Live sports I know is another thing that you're looking at and measuring. What are some of the latest numbers or ideas or trends around that?
Andrea Zapata (10:39):
So live sports and actually live news to be honest with you, are the things that really do keep the lights on for linear cable and linear television in general. People still watch sports in a live fashion. It's simultaneous reach that our advertisers want, and you'd be hard-pressed to get that in any other way outside of television, and through the power of sports. Last year, we actually worked with measurement partners to think outside the box around how you evaluate, say with March Madness, right? The NCAA basketball tournament. And it was really interesting to say, yes, we reached lots of people, but was it effective? Right? And how did we actually reach people, not just in a live environment, but then how are we doing it across screen?
And I'm really excited to see in '23, as sports starts moving to more digital platforms, but at the end of the day, people still like to huddle around the screen and watch it in a live fashion.
James Kotecki (11:29):
Well, thank you for bringing your energy and enthusiasm to this screen. And for our audience here at the C Space Studio, Andrea Zapata, Warner Brothers Discovery. Thank you so much for coming.
Andrea Zapata (11:37):
It's been a pleasure. Thank you so much for having me.
James Kotecki (11:40):
Well, I hope you enjoyed that live conversation from CES 2023. Look up the CES C Space Studio for more conversations like that, and get even more ces at ces.tech. That's CES dot T-E-C-H. And of course, please subscribe to this podcast so you don't miss a moment. I'm James Kotecki, talking Tech on CES Tech Talk.