Tag Archives: intelligence

AI, Great Whites and Powerball

The human brain simply doesn’t have the capacity for making quadrillions of campaign decisions.

In our journey to develop the first cross-media planner that optimizes inventory and audiences across both proposals and in-flight campaigns, one of our learnings was that you simply cannot do this without machine intelligence. And without optimization supported by machine intelligence, it is impossible to maximize the revenue potential of your media business.

Why?

Consider optimizing five campaigns, each spanning four weeks and making use of four inventory pools. That’s 80 possibilities, right? Well, in the current way of thinking, that number may be in the right ballpark. Unfortunately, the current way of working pushes more effort onto the folks who steward the delivery of those campaigns. And, that’s where things start to get tricky.

You see, current work practices dictate that stewardship is just a fact of life. The emphasis is on taking business at any cost. The problem gets pushed down to traffic and delivery systems, et voila! We waste our inventory to make up deficiencies, and we churn our inventory and customer expectations. We wrack our brains to make stuff fit, and we usually end up doing this at the last, most stressful minute.

You see, the math actually is 80 choose 16 — i.e., how many combinations of 16 can I choose from those 80 possibilities to derive an optimum answer? Do the math. You’ll see 550 quadrillion or 550,000,000,000,000,000 possibilities that need to be reduced to a set of possible optimum answers. Certainly well beyond the capabilities of the human mind!

Now you see why we’ve used our own artificial intelligence stack to crack this problem. There really is no alternative if you want to do it right.

Interestingly, one of the keys to this solution lies in understanding the fundamental flaw in all of the traffic and sales systems and agency buying systems in the marketplace today. They simply focus on workflow, a workflow based upon priority placements. Their plotting/placement engines focus on getting the best overall delivery per order. Not a single one of them considers the destruction they wreak to other campaigns in the process, or the revenue potential they sacrifice to the business as a whole in doing so. So, they stuff placements in the schedule based upon some priority, push out others, and kick the debt down the road.

How did we ever allow our industry to accept this as best practice? Instead, we should optimize all orders, evaluate all proposals, and optimize all inventory pools for your entire sales ecosystem in real time. A total understanding of media economics is at the heart of this process, with a machine learning about your business in order to help ensure contracts are fulfilled.

Oh, and by the way, we did some math for fun; it’s just what we do! Did you know that your chances of being bitten by a great white shark and winning Powerball in the same day are — you almost guessed it — it’s actually about 110 quadrillion to one. That means your odds of finding one of those optimum answers are five times worse than of hitting it big in the lottery!

Yes, Analytics Really Do Drive Revenue!

Fear is a great motivator, and the specter of cord-cutting, the possibility of declining ratings, and the prospect of tougher competition from OTT providers have broadcasters looking over their shoulders. When broadcasters look ahead, they see vague promises of new opportunity, but without any clear path forward.

While these hopes and fears are enough to keep one up at night, they signify little without the backing of data. Only by using analytics to delve into the wealth of data generated by daily broadcast operations can station executives understand the true impact of market trends and forces on their businesses.  Only analytics can provide an accurate picture of station performance across all properties and platforms in today’s cross-media marketplace.

Analytics alone offer a true reckoning in terms of ad sales, subscriber valuations, and revenue profiles. As a result, analytics can point to unusual revenue shortfalls and their root causes, or highlight imminent opportunities to improve on historical revenue levels. As the business looks to its future, analytics take into account changing market conditions and the growth of the business itself to expose new risks and opportunities.

Understanding that analytics are complex, dealing with a wide array of data sources and millions of data points, some broadcasters may worry that it’s just too difficult to make analytics work for day-to-day business. But the genius of today’s sophisticated analytics solutions lies in their ease of use and in the simplicity with which they present useful insights, automated alerts, and daily action items tailored to the work of each staff member.

By suggesting concrete actions that contribute substantively to the success of the business, analytics pave the way toward future success. Identifying trends specific to the broadcast station, analytics empower station executives to understand the true threats and opportunities facing them.

Enabling practical action based on this intelligence, analytics support custom notifications that let the station’s sales force know when to reach out to a particular market or client. They point to the product group most likely to find success with that market or client. For those concerned with the larger picture, analytics can use learning algorithms to support corrective action when needed or to adapt and take advantage of new market conditions.

As Decentrix clients have discovered, the understanding enabled by analytics can quickly translate to a real lift in station revenues — 3%, 5%, and even 11% and more. In this time of uncertainty for many broadcast stations, analytics has the power to define the current landscape and illuminate the territory ahead. With analytics working on their behalf, broadcast stations can advance boldly into the future of cross-platform media.