Kathy Crawford on “Project Reinvention”


We spoke with MindShare President/Local Broadcast Kathy Crawford after her AAAAs panel session last week: “Project Reinvention.” The session was introduced by GroupM Global CEO Irwin Gotlieb. We asked Kathy a few hot industry questions and then about Project Reinvention’s mission—which aims to allow for more efficient buying, and buying on the new digital multicast channels for radio and TV without hiring more staff.

What do you think about the RAB insisting stations start posting?

“I congratulate the RAB for insisting the stations start posting, but I think that the most important thing is that we as a group—the agencies and the radio stations—need to get together and agree on what the posting guidelines need to be.

It’s all very well and good for us to say that we have to post, but posting means different things to different people—and as a result, we need to come up with a standard. Not that there won’t be changes to the standard, just like there are changes in the standard in television. For example, in the old days, the standard was really plus or minus 10%, but some clients would say that was unacceptable—it has to be 5%. And in an LPM world, some people believe it’s possible to do 10%. So all of these things have to be worked out before we then have a method by which we all agree that posting takes place.”

The MRC recently denied accreditation for NYC and Philly. It doesn’t mean PPM rollout is being halted because of it, but how will this affect things? Is it a big deal or a bump in the road?

“I think it’s somewhere in between. It’s a big deal that they denied accreditation. It is also, however, a big deal that Arbitron moved the dates back for the rollout schedule for the PPM. It is my understanding that Arbitron is going to reapply for Accreditation. So it’s an ongoing process, but one I believe is good for the industry. The MRC keeps us all straight and that’s a good thing.”

There are companies out there, some of which we met at the AAAAs, like Eloda, that can post discrepancies in near-real time (half an hour). At the end of a day all of the discreps for a buy are consolidated from across the country. How many other companies can offer this and is it valuable?

“Eloda is not the only company out there doing most of what they are suggesting. For example, there is a Nielsen company out there called KeepingTrac. They took over the AudioAudit technology. What we’re talking about here is having exact times delivered to you. And then you can react on those exact times based on Nielsen data or Arbitron data or whatever. I know that Eloda does other things as well, and in fact, I’m going to be talking to them soon.

Eloda is claiming they are working with DDS on integrating into their system. What do you think?

“I’m not sure, I would have to see that.”

Tell us about Project Reinvention.

“If we take a look at what the process needs to be for the future, The Reinvention Process is a method by which we believe it is possible for us to do business more efficiently. Such as receiving electronically exact times from the radio and television stations, downloading them into a buy sheet, auto-matching them to Nielsen data—and subsequently PPM data—which, in reality, creates an invoice. And then auto-paying off of that. Work has been done on The Reinvention Process over the beginning of last year to July. It suggested that there are two media types that needed to be helped–Spot TV and Spot Radio, and the other is the internet.

The Reinvention Project suggests that we need to cut down on the labor intention that broadcast has now gotten us to. For example, the television stations have the right to have four stations, not one, in digital. Ultimately they will come to us and ask us to buy those. We can’t do that in today’s environment—we don’t have the staff to be estimating ratings, negotiating rates; to be adjudicating and stewarding a buy. And then dealing with the discrepancies. We just can’t do it.

And in the case of radio, they have the right to have three stations. So as a result of that, how does one go about buying that without getting changing the way we do things? For example, a media buy is done off of a media plan. The media plan says we need to buy ratings by daypart. I have to buy 10 points in early fringe or I have to buy 100 points on a TAP (total audience plan) plan on radio. Then we should be buying by points, not by programs. So say I make a deal with two stations. One station for 5 points in early morning and one station for 5 points in early morning, for a total of 10. Station A downloads every day my exact times and I download Nielsen data every day; and that data gets auto-matched. I find out at the end of the week that on station A I ran 4 points and on station B I ran five. And instead of getting 10 points, I only got nine. I only paid for those 9! I don’t deal in make-goods in this scenario unless the stations says next week they will give me 11 points.”

It takes the whole step out of the equation.

“It takes a lot of steps out of the equation. So at the end of the flight I have actually delivered the number of GRPs as close to the buy as I can. I now have given myself an invoice and I now can autopay. We’re going to have to do this both for radio and television. And that’s a project unto itself, just to get that done. But I think we can get it done if we can get everybody together on the same page—vendors, broadcasters, etc. In the case of TV for example, we already have a person from broadcast, a person from cable, and I’m going to do one of the agency sides. We’re going to get another agency person, broadcast person and cable person to spearhead this. The six of us are going to sit down and write the standards—off of which we will ask vendors to code.”

As we say, that’s not “talking the talk,” that’s “walking the walk.”