For the past two decades, Calum Smeaton has dedicated his professional life to starting and growing innovative software and e-commerce start-ups. After being entrenched in the world of data analytics for years and seeing first-hand how data can transform an industry, Calum founded TVSquared in 2012 to bring state-of-the-art analytical capabilities to TV advertising. Marketing in Asia speaks to Calum to find out more.
Hey there, Calum. Welcome to Marketing In Asia. To start the ball rolling, tell us more about your background, your career, and your passion.
Data has been a passion of mine since my university days. Specifically, turning data into actionable insights – whether it’s making smarter decisions day-to-day or completely transforming an industry for the better. I fully realized the enormity of it during the decades I spent founding and running companies in the fintech space, where real-time data and analytics are the cornerstone of all operations.
My professional life pivoted into adtech eight years ago after discovering that the global TV advertising space – a $170B market – had no way of knowing how ads performed, whether they reached the right people or if they drove action. TVSquared was born from the realization that I could solve those problems, add value and fill a gap in the market with a real-time analytics platform.
We are thrilled to hear about TVSquared and its unique proposition. Tell us more about it.
TVSquared measures and attributes TV the way consumers watch it, which means across time, screens and devices. Our always-on ADvantage platform is now used by thousands of brands, agencies, publishers, MVPDs and DSPs in 76 countries to quantify TV’s impact, tie it to business outcomes and optimize reach, frequency, audience and performance. We do this at scale across all forms of video advertising.
There are some opinions in the industry saying that due to the proliferation of social media marketing, TV and radio ads are no longer a viable solution. However, I personally find more advertisers going back to television to reach their audience during the pandemic. What can you say about the TV ads and consumption before and during the pandemic? How do you secure TV’s future and post-lockdown viewing?
When the pandemic began there were certainly clients that pulled off-air, but the vast majority of those came back within a few weeks once strategies shifted and creatives were changed to reflect what was going on in the world. We also saw an influx of direct-to-consumer (DTC) brands come on to TV for the first time to take advantage of higher viewership and lower inventory costs. Across all regions, DTC beauty, wellness and education brands had the highest TV-driven performance rates from March to August.
When it comes to securing TV’s future, you have to look at how TV is defined today – incorporating both linear and digital video. TV is a marketing channel that is available 24/7, spanning multiple screens and devices. Advertisers see the transformational effects TV has on business and that is amplified when campaigns are continuously measured, attributed and optimized.
I have a deep interest in TV ads measurement. Having been on the public relations fence before, we always look for the optimal way to measure and validate our TV ads. What is your advice on how to measure and prove TV ad performance?
Define, measure, optimize, repeat. Advertisers should have their end goals in mind before embarking on TV – what are the outcomes they want from their campaigns? For some, it’s going to be awareness/reach; for others, it’s more performance-driven actions like sales, app downloads or registrations. Those KPIs will influence the platforms the ads run on, whether linear, OTT or a combination of both. But the key to success is vigilance and regular measurement to make sure that TV is working toward meeting those KPIs. You should be measuring while the campaign is still on-air to understand exactly how it’s performing by day, daypart, network, program, genre, creative, audience segment and publisher. It’s also about understanding optimal reach, frequency and reach extension. All of these insights give you the “secret sauce” to optimize and inform campaigns for continuous improvement.
We are living in a time where technology has evolved the way we work, live and do business. In your view, what is the biggest challenge the television industry will face in the next few years?
Fragmentation is a formidable challenge, but it’s also an opportunity in disguise. With TV spanning multiple platforms and devices, it can be overwhelming for advertisers. But it also offers powerful ways to reach dispersing audiences. To take advantage of this fragmentation, many of our clients employ a test-and-learn strategy to find that right video mix. From a single platform, they can see the performance and reach across all of their linear and OTT campaigns to determine whether their ads reached the right audiences and if those audiences took action.
Calum, it is amazing to see your business growth. Today, TVSquared has offices in the US, Europe, Australia and Asia. Share with us your marketing strategy, and where that has brought your brand today.
Ultimately, every advertiser wants to be able to confidently answer the question, “did TV work for my brand?” But because we are the only TV measurement and attribution provider that can work in every country in the world, our marketing strategies must mirror regional challenges and nuances. Over the past eight years, we’ve worked very hard to educate markets about how TV can be measured like digital, and in a way that speaks to the specific needs and challenges of individual regions. We have world-class employees on the ground in our offices, and I regularly visit all of our locations (well, pre-COVID I did!) to better understand the market and talk to our customers first hand. To successfully market a company, you need to truly understand the country/regional-specific needs. It’s not something you can fake because it quickly becomes apparent.
What would you say are the ingredients for a successful marketing strategy, especially for products and services that have to compete in a competitive marketplace?
Authenticity and data. Authenticity comes from knowing your audience – their challenges, needs, priorities, etc. And then speaking to them from a place of understanding. Then, measure everything. That’s where data comes in. Measure every aspect of your marketing campaign and then make those findings actionable.
Share with us your number one life principle and where that has led to where you are today.
As an entrepreneur, it’s holding myself to the same high standards that I expect from my employees. The TVSquared team is extraordinary and I believe you get excellence out of your employees when you strive for it yourself.
Describe your leadership style.
My leadership style is about being accessible, transparent, on-the-ground and, as I said before, holding myself accountable for producing high-quality work. I am always available to team members, whether they’ve been at TVSquared for years or just started. Having an open and collaborative company culture has created a strong team – one that operates effectively despite being in four different continents.
Calum, thank you for these wonderful insights. For our readers who wish to get in touch with you, how can they reach you?
Thank you. Readers can check out TVSquared.com – there are multiple ways to get in touch.