Sparking Digital Communities: Broadcast Television’s Answer to Netflix

In the late 1990s and early 2000s network television dominated household entertainment. In 1998, nearly 30% of the population in the United States tuned into the NBC series finale of “Seinfeld”. Six years later, NBC’s series finale of the popular sitcom “Friends” drew 65.9 million people to their television screen, making it the most watched episode on US network TV in the early aughts. Today, nearly 40% of the viewers that tuned into the “Game of Thrones” premier viewed the popular show using same-day streaming services and DVR playback. The way people watch video content is changing rapidly and established network television companies need to evolve to maintain their viewership.

While linear TV is still the dominant platform amongst non-millenials, streaming services are quickly catching up. As young industry players like Hulu, Netflix and Youtube transform from streaming services to content creators and more consumers cut ties with cable, established network broadcasters need to engage their loyal audience in new ways. The challenge to stay relevant is further exacerbated by market fragmentation as consumer expectations for quality content with fewer ad breaks steadily rise.

Courtesy of Visual Capitalist

One advantage broadcast television still has over streaming services is the ability to tap into a network of viewers watching the same content at the same time. In 2016, over 24 million unique users sent more than 800 million TV related tweets. To stay relevant, network television companies are hoping to build on this activity by making the passive viewing experience an active one. We spoke with Michelle Imbrogno, Advertising Sales Director at This Old House about the best ways to engage the 21st century audience.

“Consumers now get their media wherever and whenever it’s convenient for them. At “This Old House”, we are able to offer the opportunity to watch our Emmy Award winning shows on PBS, on or anytime. For example, each season we feature 1-2 houses and their renovations. The editors of the magazine, website and executive producer of the TV show work closely together to ensure that our fans can see the renovations on any platforms. We also will pin the homes and the items in them on our Pinterest page. Social media especially Facebook resonates well with our readers.“– Michelle Imbrogno, Advertising Sales Director, This Old House

Social media platforms have become powerful engagement tools. According to Nielsen’s Social Content Ratings in 2015, 60% of consumers are “second screeners” – using their smartphones or tablets while watching TV. Many “second screeners” are using their devices to comment and interact with a digital community of fans. Games, quizzes and digital Q & A can keep viewers engaged with their favorite programming on a variety of platforms. The NFL is experimenting with new engagement strategies and teamed up with Twitter in 2016 to livestream games and activate the digital conversation.

“There is a massive amount of NFL-related conversation happening on Twitter during our games and tapping into that audience, in addition to our viewers on broadcast and cable, will ensure Thursday Night Football is seen on an unprecedented number of platforms.”-NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell ,”

With social media optimization (SMO) software, television networks can better understand their audience and adjust their social media strategy quickly. Tracking website traffic and click rates simply isn’t enough these days. To stay on trend, companies need to start tracking new engagement indicators using Synaptik’s social media intelligence checklist:

Step 1: Integrate Social Listening Tools

The key to understanding your audience is listening to what they have to say. By tracking mentions, hashtags and shares you can get a better sense of trending topics and conversations in your target audience. Moreover, this knowledge can underpin your argument for higher price points in negotiations with media buyers and brands.

Step 2: Conduct a Sentiment Analysis

Deciphering a consumer’s emotional response to an advertisement, character or song can be tricky but sentiment analysis digs deeper using natural language processing to understand consumer attitudes and opinions quickly. Additionally, you can customize outreach to advertisers based on the emotional responses they are trying to tap into.

Step 3: Personality Segmentation

Understanding a consumer’s personality is key to messaging. If you want to get through to your audience you need to understand how to approach them. New social media tools like Crystal, a Gmail plug-in, can tell you the best way to communicate with a prospect or customer based on their unique personality. This tool can also help you customize your approach to media buyers and agents.

By creating more accessible content for users and building a digital community around content, television networks can expect to increase advertising revenue and grow their fan base. With Synaptik’s social listening tools, companies have the advantage to track conversations around specific phrases, words, or brands. Sign up for a 30 minute consultation and we can show you what customers are saying about your products and services across multiple social media channels online (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.).


Joe Sticca, Chief Operating Officer at True Interaction

Kiran Prakash, Content Marketing at True Interaction

by Nina Robbins


Securing The Future Of ROI With Simulation Decision Support

EDITOR’S NOTE: This article is about how to approach and think about Decision Simulation. True Interaction built SYNAPTIK, our Data Management, Analytics, and Data Science Simulation Platform, specifically to make it easy to collect and manage core and alternative data for more meaningful data discovery. For more information or a demo, please visit us at or email us at


Simulation is simply the idea of imitating human or other environmental behaviors to test possible outcomes. It is obvious a business will want to take advantage of such Simulation technologies in order to maximize profits, reduce risks and/or reduce costs.

Simulation decision support is the backbone of many cutting edge companies these days. Such simulations are used to predict financial climates, marketing trends, purchasing behavior and other tidbits using historical and current market and environmental data.

Managing ROI

Data management is a daunting task that is not to be trusted in the hands of lose and unruly processes and technology platforms. Maximizing profit and/or reducing risks using simulated information will not be an automatic process but rather a managed task. Your business resources should be leveraged for each project needing long term ROI planning; computer simulations are just some pieces to the overall puzzle. Simulation decision support companies and platforms are not exactly a dime a dozen but should still be evaluated thoroughly before engaging.

Scaling Your Business

Modern software platforms exist to assist in the linear growth of your business initiatives. Algorithms have been produced thanks to years of market data and simulations in order to give a clear picture to your expectations and theories. Machine learning has also been rapidly improving over that past several years, making market simulations even more accurate when it comes to short and long-term growth. There is no lack of Algorithms or libraries of Data science modules, it is the ability to easily scale your core and alternative data sets into and easy to use platform that is configured to your business environment. Over the last several years these Data Science platforms, such as, has allowed companies with limited resources to scale their operations to take advantage of decisions simulation processes that were once too expensive and required specialized, separate resources to manage.

Non-tech Based Departments Can No Longer Hide

All branches of companies are now so immersed in software and data that it is difficult to distinguish the IT and non-IT departments. Employees will plug away at their company designated computing resources in order to keep records for the greater good of the corporation. These various data pools and processes are rich in opportunities to enable accurate business simulations. In turn, simulation findings can be shared with different departments and partners to enrich a collaborative environment to amplify further knowledge for a greater propensity for success. It is no joking matter that big or small companies will need simulation decision support processes to ensure they not only stay competitive but excel in their growth initiatives.

Data and Knowledge Never Sleeps

In 2016, the Domo research group produced data visualizing the extent of data outputted by the world. By 2020, the group predicts that we will have a data capacity of over 44 trillion gigabytes. This overwhelming amount of data available to the average human has companies on their toes in order to grasp the wild change in our modern world. The data produced is neutral to the truth, meaning accurate and inaccurate ideas are influencing the minds of your customers, partners and stakeholders. Scaling profits and reducing risk will become an increasingly involved activity, which gives us another reason to embark on Decision Simulation processes to deal with the overwhelming amount of data and decisions needed in this fluid data rich world.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This article is about how to approach and think about Decision Simulation. True Interaction built SYNAPTIK, our Data Management, Analytics, and Data Science Simulation Platform, specifically to make it easy to collect and manage core and alternative data for more meaningful data discovery. For more information or a demo, please visit us at or email us at

By Joe Sticca


Shocking? Predictive Analytics Might Be Right For Your Future

EDITOR’S NOTE: This article is about how to approach and think about Predictive Analytics. True Interaction built SYNAPTIK, our Data Management, Analytics, and Data Science Simulation Platform, specifically to make it easy to collect and manage core and alternative data for more meaningful data discovery. For more information or a demo, please visit us at or email us at


“What is marketing?” Isn’t it the attempt to sell products and services to people who are most likely to buy them? Would you be shocked to learn that Predictive Analytics is useful for completing sales? We have a tendency to think of our processes/departments and data in silo-ed terms. Though, with today’s platforms it is critical to harness insights across silos as well as bring in “alternative data”.

How is your Data Management? Can your sales and marketing staff use your data sets to up-sell products or services?” Data management is the biggest barrier as well as the biggest opportunity to surpassing internal KPIs.

Know Your Customer.

“Have you ever heard of someone lamenting about things they should have done as youth to be successful adults?” They might read a good book and suggest “they could have written that themselves.” They think that the path to success is “obvious.” Simply know everything about your customer and provide him or her with valuable products or services. That is the secret to success. “But how do you get to know your customer?” The answer is Data Management and Predictive Analytics.

What Do You Know?

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software has become very popular because it allows you to accumulate, manage and act upon client data. This can be an automatic data management system. You could even review past buying habits and automatically send an email for a hot new product, which might be appealing. Up Selling can increase your profits per customer. CRM is Business Analytics – giving you a deeper understanding of who your customer is, what he wants and where he is going. “Why do you think so many websites want to place cookies on your computer?” They want to track your behavior and anticipate your next buying action.

When Did You Know It?

“If you don’t know what your customer bought yesterday, how will you know what they will buy tomorrow?” The most agile business understands their customer in real-time. The Twitter world is about immediate gratification. People want to say “Hi,” see your pictures and plan your future together within the first 3 seconds, you meet. The profitable business knows the answers before the customer asks them. Predictive Analytics might be right for your future because it gives you the power to anticipate consumer buying trends and or behaviors across channels (Social, video, mobile, etc.). Your competitor might already be using these Business Analytics; you might be leaving “money on the table.” Sign up for a discussion, demo or strategy session today

EDITOR’S NOTE:This article is about how to approach and think about Predictive Analytics. True Interaction built SYNAPTIK, our Data Management, Analytics, and Data Science Simulation Platform, specifically to make it easy to collect and manage core and alternative data for more meaningful data discovery. For more information or a demo, please visit us at or email us at


Madison Avenue Manslaughter : An Interview With Author Michael Farmer

The rise-and-conquer story of the advertising industry after the end of World War II has become woven into the fabric of modern American folklore: ads and commercials from the Golden Age of advertising (1945-1975) are forever etched in Baby Boomers’ memories, while the industry’s Mad Men themselves have been celebrated and further mythologized in our entertainment. The ad agency exec archetype, with his swagger and his 3-martini lunch, is one of the most familiar characters in American culture, while those actual Mad Men of the Golden Age, who pounded their concepts of “Big Ideas”, “Creativity”, and “Unlimited Service” to their clients, established such a mark upon advertising agency culture that it pervades the industry to this day, and remains the template for today’s advertising.

The problem with this, according to Michael Farmer, Chairman of Farmer & Company LLC, a strategy consulting firm for advertising agencies and advertisers, is that the industry has been turned completely on its head since the Golden Age, and the paradigms that were then in place then cannot address the state of the industry today. Peril is close at hand:

Today’s Mad Men celebrate new clients and creative awards just like the Mad Men of yesteryear, with champagne, parties and laudatory speeches, but the resemblance and the fun stop there. Returning to their daily routines, ad agency people put on a brave face, struggle with increasing workloads and demanding clients, and feel like players on a losing team, unable to break out or at least pull even with their clients as respected, secure partners. The advertising business, which was once one of the most fulfilling and glamorous of industries has become a grim sweatshop for the people who do the work.

The system is broken, says Mr. Farmer, and the ad industry is in dire straits. His riveting new book Madison Avenue Manslaughter recounts the “dizzying heights” of the Mad Men days, and tracks a timeline of the key events and technologies – such as remuneration changes, globalization, new ownership, shareholder value, and digital and social media – which brought about the weakening health of today’s advertising agencies, and are now typified by ever-growing and unaccountable workloads, reduced client fees, and shortened or one-off client engagements.

With a richly depicted history and a candid, thorough examination of the current state of advertising agencies, Madison Avenue Manslaughter lays out a detailed 10-step transformation program for those progressive industry CEOs who want to “restore organizational health, financial well being and renewed strategic relevance for their ad agencies”.

I recently had a short conversation with Michael Farmer, where we discussed Madison Avenue Manslaughter and mused about the future of the advertising industry.

Michael, first let me commend you on your book. As an advertising industry outsider, the setup of your argument– the comprehensive history and explanation of the current state of affairs– was so richly detailed, it felt like a page-turner. I learned quite a lot; the theme of your book brought to my mind a quote by Albert Einstein that I think is quite applicable to what you are describing:

We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.

How does this resonate in your mind with regards to what you describe in your book?

It’s hard to argue with Einstein! Yet, the mystery of the ad agency business is that executives are wedded to the concepts that created success in the period 1960 through 1980 — even though the conditions that allowed this past success do not exist. For example, agencies still believe that “highly creative TV ads drive client brand sales.” Well, that was true when TV was a novelty, as it was in the ‘60’s and ‘70’s, and amusing ads were a new thing….but today? TV ads are no longer a novelty, and we’re familiar with all the cliches and attempts to amuse. We’ve each digested several hundred thousand ads since that day, and we’re sick of them! Pure creativity is not the formula for success. Furthermore, agencies are paid 1/3rd what they used to be paid, so they can’t afford “full service.” Let’s face it, the world has changed, but they’re stuck in the past.

Agency remuneration in the Golden Age was commissions-based. Can you briefly describe the shift to today’s model, and what effect this has on workload?

Agencies then received 15% of their clients’ spend on media — for TV, radio and print. That covered ad creation. How much work they did was irrelevant to how much they were paid. In the ‘90s, though, most of the industry was required to change to “fee-based” remuneration, which means they are paid for the number and cost of people who work on a client’s account, plus some additional money for overhead and profit. This should correlate with the amount of work they do, but in fact it does not! Clients and agencies agree on fees and agency headcounts / fees, but nowhere in the system do they clearly spell out how much work is to be done and how many people it actually requires to get it done. This is a holdover from the “full service” days when remuneration was based on commissions. The new system, then, allows clients to grow the workloads but hold the agency fees and resources (people) constant, and that’s what happens. Workloads grow, but fees and resources are driven downwards. More work, fewer people. A complete disaster, and it continues every day!

You make an observation in your book that even as SOW communication happens after-the-fact, creative workloads skyrocket, unmeasured and completely independent of agency resources or fees, the typical agency C-level indeed does NOT want to know about or address this issue. Can you elaborate on the managerial passivity that pervades the industry, and why that is the case?

The passivity is irresponsible, in my view. Agency CEOs are not doing enough to ensure that their agencies are paid for all the work they do. They are reluctant to throw their weight behind “SOW tracking systems” that would be updated regularly by their senior client heads, and they absolutely are uninterested in reviewing client head performance — finding out who is giving away work and who is not. I can’t understand this, but it appears that they don’t really want to manage their organizations. They want to win new business and be viewed as creative geniuses, but they have little appetite for the hard work of management.

Your consultancy has built a database of Scope of Work (SOW) briefs, and has established a metric for measuring workload across them: the ScopeMetric(R) Unit, or SMU. Can you briefly explain the metric, how your organization uses it, and why it’s important?

Early in my consulting career with agencies, I found that I needed three things to understand agency operations: 1) the amount of work they were doing for each client; 2) their fees by client; and 3) the resources they allocated to each client. This is simply logical: “what are you doing for each client; how much are they paying you; how many people does it take.” Across an agency office of 20 clients, there would surely be “good clients” and “bad clients,” where the alignment among workload, fees and resources was out of whack. I needed to identify those situations. In order to do so, I had to figure out how to measure workload. Today, there’s a huge difference among the relative sizes of a TV ad, a print ad, a Tweet, and an online ad banner. I decided to use creative manhours as my basic measurement, using them to measure the size of different deliverables, categorized by media type (i.e., TV), media detail (TV:30), origination versus adaptation, and according to creative complexity (low, average, high).

I now have a database of about 7,000 deliverables, each with a unique SMU value based on creative manhours. The use of an SMU allows me to calculate “price” (fees divided by SMU workloads), “productivity” (SMUs per creative person per year) and other metrics.

Advertising agencies do not have a system in place for measuring workloads. Do you know of any turnkey “workload management platforms”, SOW measurement and management tools, or other solutions on the market today? Are there any early adopters?

Advertisers, on their own, have used systems like Decideware to keep track of agency deliverables, but even Decideware does not have a way of measuring the amount of work in the SOWs, We may team up with them to combine Farmer metrics with their system. Agencies, though, are resisters.

So what can be done? What is the ‘next best step’ that agency C-level management can take, right now?

If I were an agency CEO today, my first step would be to announce a policy. It would sound something like this:

Every client that we serve will have its SOW documented in a uniform way, using an agency-wide SOW tracking system using Farmer’s SMU metrics. Every client head will ensure that his / her SOWs are kept up to date in the tracking system.. Every quarter, we will review client performance, client-by-client, examining the alignment of client workloads, fees and agency resources. Clients whose workloads, fees and resources are misaligned in some way — like ‘too much work and too little fee’ — will require corrective action by client heads. We will review client head performance in correcting misalignments. Needless to say, it is imperative for our agency to be paid correctly for all the work we carry out, and for the resources required to carry out the work.

Michael, your book is currently for sale, and provides readers with a detailed cross-section of the operations and financials of a model agency, as well as a 10-step transformation program for CEOs. Are there any other resources, online or otherwise that you would recommend to your audience?

I write a blog from time to time, and it is published on The blog is a place where I can comment on developments in the industry associated with the under management of SOWs and agency remuneration. I try to make this an interesting resource — let me know how well I’m doing!

Madison Avenue Manslaughter is the winner of the 2016 Axiom Awards Gold Medal for Marketing Books, and is available online and in selected bookstores nationwide.

By Michael Davison