How TV Networks Balance Linear vs Digital with Lori Hall
With the digital industry changing on a daily basis, even massive TV networks are struggling to keep up. OTT and digital platforms are growing rapidly and the question networks are trying figure out is: How to balance promoting content to other platforms without cannibalizing traditional, linear tune-in?
For this episode of the Business of Social podcast, we chatted with Lori Hall, the SVP of Consumer Marketing & Creative Services at TV One. Over her career, she’s been responsible for some of the most successful social media campaigns on the planet (40 million views in less than a week). She gave great insight on how TV networks are striking a balance between linear and digital.
Here are the highlights:
[11:04] - Does it make your job easier to have a clear demographic when identifying your audience?
“It definitely makes it easier to have a clear demographic. We target African American woman between ages 25 to 54 years old, but that's just where we start.
Drilling down is the essence of figuring out the right way to market to somebody. We drill down to the smallest characteristics so we can understand them fully and then figure out how to market to them.”
[12:02] - Outside of TV One, who's doing right in original content?
“Viceland is absolutely doing it right. They don't lie to their audience. They're able to open a dialogue where their audience calls in and they run with it.
I like what FX is doing with opening up new voices, like Donald Glover with Atlanta. Their telling different stories from different perspectives and branching out.”
[13:20] - With the whole industry going through a media revolution, how have you shifted working with different sponsors?
“Before, people didn’t believe in digital. Now, everything is digital first almost. A lot of sponsors want to have a personal relationship with consumers, and the only way to do that is to get on their mobile device.
There’s now short attention spans and lots of content out there. To get people's attention, you have to shrink the length of your content and not expand it.”
[14:45] - [MUST LISTEN] How has the KPI shifted over the years for TV networks?
“It’s really tough, and it’s still in an experimental phase. We’re all trying to figure out where to push people to. There are things we have to consider like monetization.
The KPI’s, specifically, used to always be live and have same day ratings. Now, it’s live plus three, which means if somebody watches our show within the first three days of it airing, we still get the full credit for that, and that’s how we sell it to advertisers. We’re trying to figure out how to drive people back to the platforms where we get credited the most so that we can get the biggest rating possible.”
[16:20] - With DVR and your partners, are you trying to find ways to integrate products into your programming?
“Absolutely. Integrations come at a higher cost and price level because it’s more valuable.
We try to do it in a way that’s not super invasive, but the brand wants it to be a little in your face. So it’s a balance in terms of trying to make it organic to the program and viewers versus just selling something.”
[16:57] - Are there conflicts that arise when you're pushing linear with your partnerships and advertisers?
“It’s a balance and it’s hard and there’s no right answer. Content is everywhere, and it’s fragmenting viewership because you can watch it on your phone instead of watching on your TV, and we might not get the ratings for your mobile device.
The best content out there wins because if it’s great, you’re going to find it. It's now people watching content and picking their display."
[22:26] - What’s the main KPI right now in 2018 and where do you see it going in 2020?
“It’s still linear tune-in. That’s where we make our biggest buck. However, we also sell integrations and do live events, like the NAACP Image Awards, where we get a lot of sponsorship dollars. It really depends on the types of events you have that determine whether you need ratings on a linear network or more of a digital/social experience.
A lot of brands are looking for mind blowing experiences to get somebody to think about their brand differently. The more we can figure out what that is, the more we’ll be able to monetize that moving forward.”
[30:36] - Where’s the undervalued attention in social media?
“People aren’t paying enough attention to real human emotion and incorporating that into everything that they do. Real human emotion makes you feel something, and that’s what makes viral videos. If you can tap into authentic emotion and make me feel some kind of big reaction, you’ve done your job and I’ll never forget it.”
[32:50] - [MUST LISTEN] What's the most important position in a core internal marketing team?
[34:00] - 12 months from today, what’s the biggest thing in the media industry you foresee changing?
“The way in we which we promote to our audiences will change, in terms of driving linear tune-in vs. OnDemand vs. to an app. I’m nervous about the cable industry overall. I think we’re failing consumers and it has to change. We have to draw a line in terms of monetization from a business perspective to a certain degree, but we have to protect the authenticity.”
David Brickley [00:00:00]: All right, she is the S.V.P. of consumer marketing at Creative Services at TV1. She also spent two years at the OPTV as the V.P of consumer marketing; spent four years at Turner, we talked about a lot. Lori Hall is finally in the building. What's going on?
Lori Hall: How are you doing? Feel like a big intro.
David [00:00:15]: I you know, right. I have a bone to pick with you. Because we met at NAACP awards and then on LinkedIn you were on a podcast; I listen to it. I commented, “Hey I’d love to have you on my podcast” and then you're like, “let's do it”. So, I email you, and I’m like “yow Lori, you know based on LinkedIn, I want to just follow up, I think it would be great”; got ghosted. But we all miss e-mails, it's a busy world.
I then follow up a couple weeks later, like “Hey Lori, just following up”. And that's all good, again, you can miss two emails. But then you have the audacity in New York to come up to me and say “you never invited me to your podcast”.
Lori: That’s right, I gave you crap about it, because I did not see the e-mail just because you follow up.
David [00:00:56]: In front of my colleagues and my employees, like it’s disrespectful.
Lori: He gave me crap about it now, but I gave him a lot of crap about it.
David [00:01:04]: We have a good time, but I’m messing around with you there. But I will give you a major complement. You have a unique ability and this kind of off industry talk. You have an amazing ability to make people feel comfortable. Meeting you at NAACP awards, within five or ten minutes, I feel like we've known each other for ten years. And I feel like that's an amazing unique quality. Do you cognizant think of that, is something that’s just natural?
Lori: Not at all. I appreciate it. First of all, thank you for having me. Not at all, I'm big on energy. So, when I meet people, I immediately sense their energy and whether it's positive, negative or just null and void, I sense it; your energy is amazing.
David [00:01:42]: Thank you, I appreciate it.
Lori: So, I feed off of that.
David [00:01:43]: So if it was negative or sore, you’d just be [inaudible 00:01:45] now?
Lori: I hate you, bye. I would have felt like I’m over it.
David [00:01:48]: But I think it’s interesting. In this industry specifically, I've found that people who I’ve come across that we both know, like [K Hood] and people like [Turner], I say “do you know Lori Hall?”, “my God, I love her, she’s amazing”. But that's the thing, people have that same feeling about you. I was wondering, do you think you're getting better at that or do you think it's something you've worked on or it just came naturally?
Lori: It’s so funny, I've never been asked this question before in life. This is fascinating, but I think I'm more authentic in terms of how I feel about people and I don't apologize for it. So, if I like you, I really like you, if I don't, I kind of stay to myself. So, when I love people and I feel their energy, I’m like “oh my God, come here and let me hug you”.
I'm from the south, I’m from Atlanta, and so we’re huggers. I grew up in a loving household, so if you're great then I can sense it and I'm going to hug you up. I met somebody at the speed dating event here on Monday at the agency and literally before I left the table, we were like “oh my God, I love you, you love me”. And it was just kind of energy.
David [00:02:41]: So you feel the vibes and energy more than the average person. I just think it's important, because what I'm understanding five years in the game now, in this industry, it's such a small industry? If you know Lori Hall, you know Michelle [inaudible 00:02:52], you know Michelle, you know [Kane Hodder Twitter] all of a sudden. And now we’re all like the same. It seems like it’s a huge industry in L.A, New York and London, but it feels like there's forty of us.
Lori: Yeah, it’s like we’re [MPPDs]. We’re like Comcast and spectrum [crosstalk]…
David [00:03:04]: But if you burn a bridge like I feel you've done in this industry, because everybody knows you. You know everybody, right?
Lori: You're done if you don't do what you need to do, in terms making up for it. So, you’re done if you do not figure out how to turn that corner.
David [00:03:17]: So I thought it’s interesting, because I was a journalism major at [San Dio State] and you went to Northwester, which was my dream school for journalism. You guys have actually played well in the tournament in basketball for the last couple of years, but for journalism that’s one of best schools. Same deal, T.V, film and radio, that's what you did and that's what I did at [San Dio State] too. So it kind came from the same cloth. But then you went to law school, which I thought was interesting. I just can’t see you a lawyer, you’re too nice, you’re too nice to be a lawyer.
Lori: I know, I’m too nice, I’m too fun. I'm kidding. I love lawyers, my best friend is a lawyer, she just made partner. So, I'll be celebrating her this weekend, but my journey was specific to radio T.V film because I fell in love with it at a young age. I loved Oprah; I was like “I'm going to be the next Oprah”, which I've now said, I’m going to be the next Lori because I feel like I'm pretty good so I should just enhance myself.
David [00:04:05]: By the way, Oprah just seems like an entire generation of women.
Lori: Women, black women especially. I mean she is the crème de la crème. And she encourages everybody to keep going on their own path. So I feel like I want to embody that same spirit, because it's really important to follow your journey. So I did Law School because I wanted to be rich. That didn't work out, so I quit and now I'm back in T.V.
David [00:04:26]: So then, talk me through how you landed at Turner and then OPTV after that.
Lori: Sure. Basically, I went to law school, [Vanderbilt law school]; top twenty five school. So that was amazing. My parents were thrilled, my mother was more thrilled. And in case you don't know my mom, she graduated law school at sixty four years old, just last year. And I gave her a black Mercedes Benz as a gift and it went viral on the internet. So, I did Law School, I thought I was smart enough to do it, I can figure it out. And I was, but I still hated it. So, nobody tells you how to quit something just because you don't like it; we're all kind of bred to keep going after whatever it is that you put your mind to. But you got to know how to quit. So, I quit law school; dad was supportive, mom wasn't. She got over it later.
And so, somebody at law school said to me, “what are you going to do next?” And I had no idea.
David [00:05:18]: That’s a vulnerable space to be into.
Lori: Right. I was like “wait, I have to have something to do next?” So, I went to my room, I googled T.V. internship as a Turner Broadcasting T3, I go back to them, I'm like “hey, I’m going to be a T3 trainee at Turner Broadcasting”. Had not applied, had not sent anything in…
David [00:05:34]: But you just said it’s going to happen?
Lori: I spoke it into existence. So, then I jumped into production when I move back home and I did two productions; Being Bobby Brown was one of them. Fantastic! Whitney Houston was my idol for singing for a long time. And I applied for the T3 thing and got it. I was one out of six people who got the T3 internship or the traineeship and there were hundreds.
David: A lot of people came up from that T3 program too. They're known for that.
Lori: Tons of people. [Bill McLachlan] who is a [crosstalk]. He was the original T3. So, it was great.
David [00:06:02]: So then after four years at Turner, you moved to OPTV in a more senior role.
Lori: It was about nine years. I think it was two thousand and four (2004); maybe not nine years. I mean two thousand and four (2004) to two thousand and twelve (2012).
David [00:06:15]: Wow. That’s a long time. I think every move in this industry every two to three years. That's a lot of time.
Lori: There are two ways to do it. People say, you can stay forever, like stay for thirty years and get to the highest height or you can move every two or three years and make your own way. So, I moved to OPTV and it was a hard decision, really hard. Because Turner was so amazing and comfortable. And it still is; you see the stuff they do now. I mean, they’re amazing.
I was working on TBS, TNT and TCM. The president of the network believed in me- Steve Koonin. He was like, “you are great”. When I decided to leave, he wanted me to stay. He wanted to me stay, Jeff Gregor, the CMO at the time wanted me to stay, Tricia Melton, the SVP wanted me to stay. And it was really difficult, so I had to tell OPTV that I was coming before I even told Turner. Because I realized that if I told Turner before I’ve made the decision, I wouldn’t be able to go because I love the people too much. So I did that and I wanted to be scrappier, I wanted to build on my resume. There were two things that determined me to go to OPTV; one was, a girl on my team, Carmen Madison said, “in two years, if you stay at Turner, where will you be? In two years, if you go to OPTV, where will you be?”
David [00:07:18]: And I’m sure there’s a lot of people at Turner that just had ten, fifteen years [crosstalk]… but how are you going to beat them?
Lori: Exactly. And there's nothing wrong with that, because Turner is amazing, so I was like, you know what, if I get OPTV I’ll have two years of VP experience which I need in order to get to an SVP level. If I stayed at Turner, I’d probably still be in my same role because there are so many layers, there was a lot of hierarchy and things like that. And not a bad thing, but there wasn't a lot of room at the time. So, I left and I did two years at OPTV and it was an amazing two years and went to TV1 right after that.
David [00:07:49]: So, it's funny; I never realize that you were behind this, but for the OPT.V, you're behind this viral video sensation and it got like fourteen million views or bigger.
Lori: You’re going to underestimate? You told me to come to your podcast and you’re going to underestimate. Forty-three million.
David [00:08:05]: That's a big difference, I'll give it to you. I remember seeing this back in twenty fourteen (2014) and essentially those that I know, it was cops pulling people over. And everybody gets pulled over by cops; that sinking feeling in your chest, it's like, I'm out five hundred bucks, it's a big deal.
Lori: Or I’m going to jail, depending on what’s in your car.
David [0:08:22]: The cops are pulling people over and it was Christmas time, they were giving people presents, which is such a cool idea. And I feel like it's interesting, we see here in twenty eighteen (2018) with all the police brutality talk and everything going around right now. Their like “why doesn't every police department do that at Christmas?”
Lori: Actually that would be a cool idea, why not?
David [00:08:39]: I feel like we should lead that charge.
Lori: It's interesting because when we were doing that video, I wanted to create a viral video. And that’s how you plan for Social, you play for viral. And I had an internal goal of a million views; I wanted a million views over the life of the video. And I told my company, “I'm hoping for a hundred thousand views”. Because I got to set the bar low.
David [00:08:56]: Anybody that says, let's make a viral video, that's impossible. You don't know how it's going to ultimately take off.
Lori: Exactly. And previously, they only had a video that went up to like twenty, thirty, forty thousand views. Anyway, I met with a viral video maker; some guy on the internet who had all these viral videos and I was like, “hey, let me work with him”. We did it, we came up with the idea about the Christmas presents. We did it in his hometown, so he had an inroad with the police department and it was great. But, you spoke about police brutality. Right after we shot it, edited it and we were thinking about when we were going to launch it, Mike Brown was killed in Ferguson. And as a person first of all, and as an African-American person, I felt some kind of way about that. And I said, there's all this police brutality that leads to death in the black community that's happening right now and we're about to launch this happy go lucky video about police people giving gifts out. And we had to make the decision, whether we were going to launch it or not. And I'll give a lot of credit and kudos to the leadership at OPTV, Charlie and Brad and everybody else. We all decided to still launch it. Because it was a happy thing. Maybe it would be a nice balance to the other [crosstalk] that’s out there. So we launched it anyway. It actually help the people who we're talking about police brutality, because it fueled people wanting to share good examples of police doing things.
David [00:10:10]: I love that the Chris Rock joke… I don’t know if you’ve seen this recent special. He was saying that with police, there's only a few bad apples. United Airlines can’t just have a few bad apples that crash... so, there’s certain industries that should never have a few bad apples. But thinking that, I just notice like through the [lexicon] and stuff, in the community people and police force, there’s not a way to bring it together. It's like, this black and white type thing. And so I just thought it was funny; stuff like that I feel like every police department did that around the holidays, they would have that community aspect involve.
Lori: It instill goodwill, people would love it.
David [00:10:44]: And so every time you deal with somebody, if it's a negative experience, you have to find a way to counterbalance that.
Lori: Absolutely. I just got pulled over by the cops the other day in DC. It’s not fun, I drove down the street and he did like a U-turn and I was like, “oh my God!”
David [00:10:56]: He didn’t give you a present, is that what you're saying?
Lori: There was no present, but the gift was that he did not give me a ticket. And I love that, I was like, “thank God”.
David [00:11:02]: Give me a warning please.
David [00:11:04]: So, I wanted [inaudible 00:11:04] in TV1 and I want to get your thoughts on, does having a clear demographic and from the top down saying, this is who we're going after, this is our demo. Does that make your job easier or harder, how do you feel about that?
Lori: I think it makes it easier, having a clear demographic. We are targeting African-American women twenty- five to fifty- four. Thirty- five to fifty- four is more of our sweet spot. I think it makes it clearer but it doesn't mean that's where you stop, it means that's where you start. So, I feel like drilling down is really the essence of how do you figure out the right way to market to somebody, because it's not just I'm a black person, I'm a black woman, I'm in this age group. It’s like, I like this, I like food, I like lifestyle programming, I like to talk to my best friend, and I like to do this. So, we try to drill down to the smallest, those minute characteristic of somebody, so that we can understand them quickly and then figure out how to market.
David [00:11:54]: The color of your skin is not going to determine what type of show you like, so anybody can watch TV1 and enjoy it.
Lori: It’s black culture, not just black content. Does that make sense?
David [00:12:02]: Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. Alright, so outside of TV1, whose people you look up to or who do you think is doing it right in original content or in TV overall?
Lori: I just got out of a session with [Viceland]. [Viceland] is absolutely doing it right. And what they said in that session was, they don't worry about bullshit; it's like we're going to bullshit our audience. Excuse me, I don’t know if I say that.
David [00:12:22]: No, it's all good. It’s podcast.
Lori: Right. We're not going to bullshit our audience. And that gives them so much freedom, because they can make promos, they can say “hey, we don't have any footage right now, so you're getting this”. Or they'll open up a dialogue with their audience by having a hot line and the audience calls in, but then they put it in a promo and play some of the absurd stuff that comes out of this. So, I think [Viceland] is doing it right, I think that FX; I really like what they're doing, I like what they've done in terms of opening up to New Voices. Donald Glover with Atlanta on FX.
David [00:12:54]: By the way, I feel like Turner should have had Atlanta. By being based in Atlanta.
Lori: By virtue of being based in Atlanta that would have been awesome.
David [00:13:01]: So, that hurts a little bit.
Lori: Exactly. They got Pose now, and Pose is pretty cool. So, I really like that they’re telling different stories from different perspectives. And they are branching out, they’re diversifying.
David [00:13:10]: And they're edgy, it's always sunny in Philadelphia and Atlanta. And the League was one I enjoyed too [inaudible 00:13:16]. But speaking of Vice; this whole industry right now going through that media revolution, I want to know at TV1, when it comes to your digital inventory and your sponsors and partners want to be more involved in branded content. You came from the game at Turner eight years back in two thousand (2000) and whatever and I'm sure it's been an entire shift of what sponsors and kind of where you're going for the past couple of years.
Lori: Absolutely. Before, people didn't believe in digital. Digital was kind of a throwaway, it was an afterthought, and it was, “oh, add that on to the rest”. Now, everything is digital first, almost. A lot of sponsors want to have a personal relationship with consumers and the only way to do that, is to get on their mobile device now. We are with our mobile devices more than we are with anything in the world. If you lose your phone, you are going that same hour to get a new phone.
David [00:14:01]: And my audience may hate me because I've always used as an example; but we've been reprogrammed to enjoy like literally, thirty minute programs from a seven inch screen. I’ll sit on my couch, I’ll watch something on my phone and my TV is turned off, which is crazy.
Lori: But that's actually changing the industry itself, because people are used to watching content like that. Now, we're starting to look at networks who are doing things like pods, fifteen minute pods. [Adult Swim] did it first; I want to say, hopefully I'm right on that. But they have like Robot Chicken in these fifteen minute shows that they would program. Brilliant! Short attention span, lots of content out there. The more clutter we get in the content space, the more you are going to have to do to try to keep people’s attention. And sometimes that mean shrinking the link of your content, not expanding it.
David [00:14:39]: So, what has been the difference in your KPI? I am sure five, six years ago, it's linear tune in, linear tune in, linear tune in. I know on a T.V. network, that's still a major thing of what you guys are focused on, but how is it shifted where it's linear tune in, but also we've got to make sure these other areas are performing.
Lori: There was a great panel; I want to say it was Lee Hunt, the other day and he was talking about how you promote linear tune in, versus watch it on the app, versus stream it on the app. It’s really tough, but I think we are getting better at that as an industry overall. But I think it's also still an experimental phase. So, we're all trying to figure out where we push people to?
So, there are things we have to consider like monetization; you push people to your app, you're not going to monetize that as much as you're going to monetize your on demand. On demand, we get ratings for that, so you can actually sell to advertisers and you get money. The app, not as much. So there's a balance that you have to do, but the KPI is specifically used to always be just live, same day ratings and it's now live plus three. Some networks do live plus seven; meaning, if somebody watches our show within the first three days of the airing, we still get the full credit for that because that's how we sell it to advertisers. So, we say “hey advertiser, we're not going to sell you that the ratings are going to be amazing on day one, we're going to sell you on the fact that it's going to be amazing in these [crosstalk]…”
David [00:11:12]: Through DVR or through OTT stuff?
Lori: DVR. So, it's live plus three, is our DVR metric. So, you don't have to watch it that same day, but we still have to do a good job in terms of telling people to watch it within the first three days. So one thing that we've done, which I think a lot of other networks do this. We advertise not just with the linear premier tune in off channel, but we’ll go off channel and advertise “hey catch up on your DVR”. So, we're trying to figure out how to drive people back to the platforms where we get credited the most, so that we can get the biggest rating possible. Because ratings at the end of the day, still are our KPI.
David [00:16:20]: With DVR as well, where people fall asleep. You and I do a fast forward through commercials. So, with your partners, is the more trying to find ways to integrate products into your programing and stuff like that?
Lori: Absolutely. Yeah, integration comes at a higher price level, because it's more valuable, it's during program content. When you're watching TV, you see those things pop up from the bottom, the graphics. That's another way that you can include the sponsor, you can have their logo, you can have their product, whenever. We try to do it in a way that's not super invasive, but the brand wants it to be a little bit in your face. So, it's a balance in terms of trying to make it organic to the program and organic to the viewer, versus just selling something.
David [00:16:57]: I think it’s interesting; someone in TV right now, like you said, there's so many call to actions. And there's going to be conflict if you're TV1… I'm not sure of your different partners. But let’s say you're TV1, you have a linear, you have your cable partners, you have Hulu, YouTube TV, you have the app, you have all these different things. And doesn't it seem like, if you're pushing linear, it's a conflict to your partnership with YouTube TV. If you're pushing you to TV, it's a conflict to you're advertising on linear. So, there's no right answer.
Lori: There's no right answer, you have to do the best job you can do. If people are paying for something, you definitely have to do that job. But everybody talks about TVE, TV everywhere, content is everywhere. It's available on your app, it’s available on your website, it's available here, there. It's fragmenting viewership because you can watch it on your phone instead of watching it on your TV and we might not get the ratings for your mobile device, it depends.
But I think that it's interesting because it really truly means that the best content out there wins. Because if it's great, you're going to find.
David [00:17:51]: It’s just a different platform. I feel like orange is the new black, it works on Fox, It works on Netflix. It's a good show, so just because it's on a slightly different platform or used different [inaudible 00:18:01].
Lori: I remember there was a time when I was at Turner and I was looking at what people in Japan were doing in terms of marketing, because they were far ahead of us. So they would do these things where they had a wall at the subway station and it had iPods, the little square iPods they use to have. So they would have iPods and people would just come up and take them. Just take an iPod, it was a promotion; just come up and take a free hundred fifty dollars device. So, I was like yeah, I was like dam, let me get some of that marketing, let me get that marketing juju. And I was like, “why can't we do things like that here?” I mean, there are all kinds of reasons why it might not work. One of the things I notice about Asia, was that everybody was watching content on their phones. And they had the fancy phones; we all had you know old [inaudible 00:18:37]. They had the smartphones way before we did.
David [00:18:40]: We had the Motorola Razors.
Lori: We had the flips. What was it? I can’t remember all of them; Nokia… But what they were doing was…
David [00:18:47]: The side kick, those big ones.
Lori: With the flip up. But they were watching content on their phones and now we're doing that. So, back in the day there was a lot of content for them to watch, people were programming to their mobile devices. We’re just getting there. And it’s only going to get more diverse, so where you can watch it, people are going to look for new ways to watch content. So, instead of thinking of TV as TV, a TV should be thought of just as a display. So your display is your computer, your display is your phone. So, it's no longer I want to watch TV, it's I want to watch content now, I'm just picking my display.
David [00:19:18]: That's tough though, when Nielsen is still such a big deal and TV networks, the majority of their revenue is coming from thirty-seven spots. So, it's like that, you can't totally shift because you have this money making revenue side, but then you have to shift or eventually it will go that way.
Lori: In full disclosure, I'm on an advisory council for Nielsen for their African-American advisory council, to help them make inroads with African-American communities and make sure they're represented. Not just in terms of ratings, but also in terms of vendors they use and things like that. So, they have several councils and I applaud them for that. There are other entrance in the data space that are trying to say “hey, you shouldn't just rely on the Nielson or you shouldn’t rely on …”
David [00:19:57]: And they're trying with total ratings and things like that.
Lori: Right, exactly. So you have ComScore, you have other ways. So, it really depends on how the networks and the industry looks at data and what data they're still going to hold in the highest esteem. Nielsen is absolutely like the standard, it's the gold standard, that's what we all depend on, and that’s what we all look at.
David [00:20:14]: It's a third party that everybody trust.
Lori: It is. And they try to represent the entire US, but I think what's going to be interesting is, the more data that comes about, it could totally shift how we are telling advertisers “here's who watched, here's who didn't”, depending on what data we get. If we get set top box data, like when you have a Comcast box or whatever, there's data in there; we get it.
David [00:20:35]: We should be able to, why not?
Lori: You should be able to, right? So, it's going to be interesting because the more data that's available, the more it's going to shift how networks operate.
David [00:20:42]: It’s crazy. I worked in radio back in twenty- ten (2010) through thirteen (2013), but they were still doing…
Lori: Were you a DJ?
David [00:20:49]: I was a producer, I did a little bit on air, but they were still doing journaling back then. They had like a thousand people in each paper journal.
Lori: It’s crazy. Yeah they had devices now, but there's no perfect way to count ratings. I think they do the best job they can do, I think it's great data, I think it helps us all. But we're going to see how goes.
David [00:21:07]: So Netflix spending eight billion dollars on original content. It's crazy, but you guys are doing original series, original films as well on TV1. And it seems like there's been in the last three years or so, everybody is investing now because I remember Turner, it was like reruns of Seinfeld and King of James, or King of Queens. And I think they thought like, if we can have advertisers pay on this syndicated stuff, but it feels like now everybody's like, we have to have our own original content.
Lori: Absolutely, because when the Emmys air maybe two or three years ago and Netflix first came on the scene, people were like, “Oh you think it's funny now, Netflix is over here winning Emmys, wait until Snapchat starts to do original content, they’re going to win Emmys. Now you have Facebook getting into the original series game. They have a great series, called The Red Table Talk with Jada Pinkett- Smith, her mom and her daughter that is phenomenal content, it’s just phenomenal. So, everybody is getting in the game.
David [00:22:01]: And Will Smith is doing some of the YouTube right now.
Lori: They're going to be just more and more entrance into this space and people have to keep up.
David [00:22:08]: I always say, it's always funny how Amazon is an e-commerce store that used to sell books. And then now they're at the Emmys like, “I want to thank Amazon”, which is just as silly as saying like, I want to thank Walmart or Kmart.
Lori: Or Kroger or Publics, or whatever the grocery store is.
David [00:22:20]: Nobody would ever accept that. We've accepted this brand, like they do everything they do.
Lori: Look a [Chipotle], [Chipotle] created a film. They created a film series.
David [00:22:26]: I didn't realize that.
Lori: Yes. So, I mean everybody's body is getting into it.
David [00:22:28]: Spotify is [inaudible 00:22:29] gone as well. So, main KPI right now is we stand in twenty eighteen (2018), is it still basically linear tuning; where do you see that going in twenty- twenty (2020)?
Lori: For us, for TV1, it's still going to be linear tuning, that's where we make our biggest bang for the buck. But we also sell integrations, we also do live events like the image awards and things like that where you can get a lot of sponsor dollars. So it really depends on if you have big temples, you need to have the ratings on your linear network and then digital social as a business. So, I think it's going to go more in the vein of digital social and I also think that it's going to go more in the vein of custom big experiences.
I think that a lot of brands and products and companies are looking for what's going to be that mind blowing experience to get somebody to think about my brand differently or in a better way. And so the more we can invent and create and figure out what that thing is, I think the more we’ll be able to monetize that and look at different revenue models for the business as we go.
David [00:23:22]: And I feel like fortune five hundreds will finally start to get like, this is where all the eyeballs at, how do I connect my brand with TV1 who's on digital, who can speak to demo I’m trying head.
Lori: The challenge is, and this is why I love Viceland so much. I always say that consumers are smarter than you think they are. So, sometimes with networks, not to say that we think anybody is stupid, but sometimes in networks, people will take for granted that somebody can tell that's advertising or that's marketing.
David [00:23:45]: Nobody wants to be sold to.
Lori: Nobody wants to be sold to. I tell people that all the time. I call it the push in the pool method of marketing. So, I don't want to have to push my message on people. I want to pull them into what I'm doing. I also call it like Whisper marketing, want to whisper something and they’re leaning in like, “ooh, what’s that?” You could look at YouTube, some people do some great ads on YouTube; like Gap. They had an ad and the guy was just dancing this funky hip hop dance and I was like “ooh, what's that?” didn't care that it was an ad, but I love the fact that he was dancing because it was actually really cool.
David [00:24:15]: I don’t know if you remember this; the divine video that was like “what are those?” Remember that?
Lori: Yes. What are those!
David [00:24:20]: Now, I think that was by [Vans’]. I think they were behind it.
Lori: Yeah, Danny with the white Vans
David [00:24:24]: Damn Daniel was the one that was dancing. But Vans’ was behind that the whole time, but it became this viral video.
Lori: Were they really? I totally thought that was organic.
David [24:30]: That’s what I’m saying. So, that was the whisper, where you're thinking about Vans in the back your head.
Lori: That's hilarious. And who would have thought that would have gone viral. Like Damn Daniel, who cares? But it was funny.
David [00:24:39]: It’s so random. So I guess I’ll pass both of them back, we work together at the Image Awards NAACP and we were doing [inaudible 00:24:50] and we're obviously trying to get tune in, but it was a very emotional time, it was MLK Day and represented during a what is MLK, meaning the [you] and how do you represent his dream. That's another way I think in a way that through an emotional moment, you found a way to kind of whisper, “by the way the Image Awards are on, let’s hear, come and talk about MLK”.
Lori: Thank you for that. Because that was exactly what we wanted to do. We always talked about the ‘what’. The ‘what’ is the Image Awards or on TV [crosstalk]…
David [00:25:14]: Because that could stand alone by itself, but…
Lori: But we’ve done the what for so long. And we have been losing viewership year to year on the Image Awards. The Image Awards is our biggest temple on the network for a year. It's where we make the most money from our advertisers, that's where we have the most stake in terms of what we're doing.
David [00:25:28]: And a lot of that mean that anybody who's anybody in entertainment.
Lori: Anybody is anybody, right. It's the fiftieth year coming up this year. So, we were like “how do we do this differently?” So, once we made the move to airing it on MLK Day, we were like “oh, my God, this is our time to represent the dream”. And our brand tagline is “TV1 represent”. So, when we came up with ‘Represent the Dream’, we took the focus off the ‘what’ and we put it on the ‘why’. Why does this matter? It matters because we need representation in the entertainment community. It matters because we need to support our own in terms of people of color, making great content, acting in great content etc. It matters because the MLK’s dream is still not fully realized, but we're on the path there. So, I think shifting it from the ‘what’ to the ‘why’, made a huge difference in authenticity and I think that's why people came.
David [00:26:11]: And they wanted to share it. Which is always the key; how can you find a way to get… not free, but that brand awareness where people actually want to be like, “yow, I want to see how this comes out, I want to share it”.
Lori: And what David is not saying, is they did this fantastic [inaudible 00:26:22] for us, that was called “Represent the dream cam”. And we had every one at the Image Awards, celebrities and attendees alike come into this booth…
David [00:26:31]: [inaudible 00:26:31] only came around by the way, was like bam.
Lori: [inaudible 00:26:33] just say, “Oh my God, I love you”. I love his wife too.
David [00:26:35]: Tears in my by the time he’s out of there.
Lori: Exactly. So, they actually talked about what representing the dream meant to them. And that was authentic.
David [00:26:42]: They weren’t prepared, they didn’t know and they just came from the heart.
Lori: And the video was beautiful. Again, giving David and his team kudos. It was black and white and I had these sprinkles of gold in it and it felt very sleek and elegant and it felt very poignant. And so they shot him from different angles and so now you have this narrative that people are coming up with on the fly, talking about how emotional it is to be at the Image Awards because you feel like you're representing the dream that MLK had.
David [00:27:04]: I appreciate that. So, that was a good moment, but what have you seen when it comes to TV, social? I think a lot people throw money at influencers, they go with the latest trend but the ROI is not there because you don't see it translate. So, in your career thus far, what have you seen some of the best ways on social to actually drive results in that way?
Lori: I know it sounds like everybody says this. I really think it boils down to authenticity and really connecting with the audience. The way I came up with the viral video; the reason why it made so much sense to me is because I was like, everybody has the same feeling when you get pulled over by the cops. It’s an authentic feeling.
David [00:27:40]: Did you get pulled over in that time?
Lori: Did I get pulled over by the cops? What is he trying to say?
David [00:27:46]: I’m saying, before you came up with the idea, did you get pulled over like a month earlier? “You know what, that sucked, how can we find a way?”
Lori: No, sure didn’t. So, I've never been pulled over by the cops, until recently. I'm so safe, I’m such a safe driver. I got pulled over at sixteen, I made a wrong turn. Anyway, so I did not do that, but I know the feeling when you have cop lights behind you, because I still had been pulled over at least before in my life.
David [00:28:05]: When I was struggling in college, because to lose three hundred, four hundred bucks in a month and you're not paying rent.
Lori: Right, but think about that. We were talking about police brutality; so back in the day was losing three hundred, four hundred bucks. Now, for black people and black men it might be “I can lose my life”. So, the dynamic has totally shifted. But at the moment of being pulled over, no matter who you are, whether you’re thinking about money, safety, whenever. You have a pit in the stomach feeling, like “Oh, my God”. Because you have no idea what the cops are going to come at you with. So, I was like, that's an authentic feeling that's universal. So, I also look at universal themes. What’s universal no matter what color you are, what age you are etc. That's a universal thing. And to shift that panic feeling from panic to surprise and on delight. To me, that’s a total one-eighty that people would love to see and appreciate.
David [00:28:52]: I talk to a lot of on the show about influencers too, because with influencer bots and these different things it’s tough. Have you had any successful influencer campaigns where you've partnered up with certain influencer that you think talked your demo and able to kind of bring people over to your brand?
Lori: Yeah. In the African-American space, because that's our target audience; there are cultural influencers who are just mainstream influencers. So, black culture to me is pop culture, because a lot of black culture is driving pop culture. If you think about like Migos and Cardi B. Not just rappers, I’d have to think of other examples; Michael B. Jordan, whoever it is, but there are a lot of influencers who are mainstream that also happen to be black. So, having access to them through these influencer companies has been amazing, but I do think, I've seen it work well in my time, I've also seen it work horribly when I've done it. And I'll tell you how it works horribly. If you do an influencer campaign and let's say the agency is like, “oh we're going to get them to promote your thing”…
David [00:29:49]: Besides any one like you just went back to; full circle.
Lori: Exactly. So, if you give them the same graphic to use, the same copy to use in terms of the text and all that. And you see all these influencers posting the same thing, it renders it inauthentic.
David [00:30:01]: You're selling to me.
Lori: You're selling to me, because I don't just see it on Cardi B’s page, I see it on Amber Rose, I see it on Kanye’s, I see it on all these pages and it's exactly the same. So, now I know you're selling me.
So, that's not a good influencer campaign.
David [00:30:12]: We’ve done some micro-influencer campaigns as well where it’s like we're not going to tell you what to say. You know your audience better than anybody, do it in a genuine way like you know I'm tuning in, TV1 Image Awards.
Lori: It has to be real, so done it with Common Doing the black history month campaign with Common was phenomenal; he's a phenomenal guy to work with. We literally just interviewed him on questions and got his real responses. And so I think that’s the authenticity you need. I’ve some it with radio deejays, where I would radio D.J. junket and we take them to a city wherever we're shooting our movie or show and we put them in the room with the talent and they do a Q and A. But they've also seen the show; so we make sure that they see the show and then they'd riff on why they like the show themselves. I don't give them the scripts, they riff on it.
David [00:30:52]: That's the key when it comes to influencers for sure.
Lori: Be natural, be organic, be real.
David [00:30:56]: Do you think there's a place right now in the market? Where do you think the undervalued attention is? What place are we not paying enough attention to that you think everybody should be looking at?
Lori: That's a good question, you sunk me. I'll tell you this because it's my passion; I think people aren't paying enough attention to real human emotion, in terms of incorporating that into everything you do. So, that's why I love viral videos.
David [00:31:23]: There’s a lot of TV networks, to your point, like watch this 7 p.m., watch this 8 p.m. And I think you can't build a community around that, if you’re just selling constantly.
Lori: I had a boss who was like, make sure you tune in says this, make sure you voice a tune in on the end page. And me and my head of creative services were like, if people like the spot, they’re going to Google it.
David [00:31:39]: That's not marketing though, that's sales.
Lori: That’s not marketing. So, what I love is real human emotion, it makes you feel something. And so we've seen a lot of great campaigns here at Promax where I feel something. And I think that people aren’t paying enough attention to it, but they're starting to. So if you can tap into that authentic emotion, if your spot, video whatever it is can make me cry or make me feel some kind of big reaction, you've done your job because I’ll never forget it.
David [00:32:03]: I talked about that, we got started in sports and I always got so angry with sports teams that weren't genuine with their fan base. If you're the Cleveland Browns, don't act like you're going to win the championship. And if you lose, I think some teams will just say, “Well that sucked”. Just talk for the fan and that ends up being so much better than “the Browns have had their best but they lost in over- time”.
Lori: Exactly. But think about this. I like sports enough, I'm not the biggest sports watcher, but I love it when I know the back story of a player. You invested. But, also sports has gotten to the authenticity because that's what press conferences is for. Now you get to see Lebron in the press conference talk about the fact that Jr missed that pass or whatever it was.
David [00:32:39]: He didn't miss it, he dribble it out the clock.
Lori: Yeah, thank you. See, I told you I don’t watch sports. Anyway the memes are hilarious on social media. And you get to see that, you get to see his real emotion, you get to see Lebron get up and gather his purse or whatever he had. So, you get to have that authenticity from the player. So everybody is focusing on how to bring that authenticity into what they do and I think that sports is actually doing a good job.
David [00:33:00]: Yeah, that's what the NBA has done a really good job at that, propping there players up, allowing them to have a voice. The NFL has not done that as well. You see what's happened the protests and everything like that. So in terms of where we're going of your core internal marketing social team, what do you think some of the most important positions in our industry are going to be in the coming years?
Lori: What you mean, like in terms of like…?
David [00:33:19]: Marketing department, we've seen from social media coordinators and digital marketing, but it's hard to [palmers] being built from a one man team to now, like twenty people.
Lori: I think digital video or I wouldn't call it a viral video group, but digital video content, social video content, I think that’s going to get into the video space. But not video for linear, video for non-linear, like Instagram etc. Somebody actually mentioned that they have a different video team for every single social platform.
David [00:33:46]: I saw that.
Lori: Isn’t that amazing?
David [00:33:49]: Which would be nice.
Lori: That would be nice if we had that kind of budget. But if you could start to craft video for specific platforms, specific to that platform’s needs and what people go there for, I think that would be huge.
David [00:34:00]: I'm sure you've seen this too. I think a lot of issue in TV is, they just repurpose the linear promo and they slap it on Instagram and they wonder why it's not working. Because people don't want to watch the [inaudible 00:34:08] by [inaudible 00:34:09] second ad.
Lori: But networks like cheap, easy, fast… you can’t have it all, but that's been the history. But now we're seeing the value of doing it specifically for that platform and the networks who are going to win are going to be the ones who actually craft things authentically for that specific platform.
David [00:34:22]: Love that. Alright, rapid fire, I’ll get you out of here. So name a tool or an app that you or your team uses that you could not live without?
David [00:34:30]: Yeah, it's big. Twelve months from today we're going to sit down again, what's the biggest thing in the media industry that you foresee changing? That’s a loaded question.
Lori: I know. God, David, Jeez. Twelve months from now, biggest thing changing; I think that the way we promote to audiences is going to completely change, in terms of driving linear tune in, versus on-demand, versus app. I think it's going to change because…
David [00:34:55]: Are we getting it as an industry yet?
Lori: I don't think so. I think we're failing, I think we're failing consumers. I'm actually nervous about the cable industry overall.
David: And I saw a panel as well and it's so true. The advertisers are going to be the ones that push everybody in the industry to either put up or shut up. So, once they say we want to be on your Instagram channels, “alright, well then we'll focus on that” rather than focusing….
Lori: But who is doing the leading? If the advertisers are doing the leading, then everything is about the bottom dollar. If everything is about the bottom dollar, it can sometimes erode the authenticity of what you're trying to do because you're trying to get the buck. So, I think that there has to be a line drawn in terms of, we will be driven by monetization from a business person perspective to a certain degree. But we have to protect the authenticity.
David [00:35:39]: I bring up the Blockbuster example all the time. They were a five billion dollar company, they see Netflix, Netflix comes to them and says, buy us for fifty million, Blockbuster laughs them out of the room, Blockbuster goes bankrupt, now Netflix is making twelve billion a year. I think we all kind of see it.
Lori: That’s the best I told you so.
David [00:35:56]: Yeah, but we may have to kind of go through a little bit low, or maybe TV networks have to through a couple years of not taking as much thirty second ad revenue maybe, so they can get ready for what's to come in twenty-twenty (2020), twenty- twenty- five (2025). It's going to be a transition, it’s going to be kind of tough.
Lori: There’s going to be a transition. I think that’s one way, I think the other way is, it’s kind of what you said with Netflix and Blockbuster; if Netflix focused only on being a DVD company, they would have never thought about doing streaming. But they actually focused on being a content distribution company, in terms of we have constant, let's just figure out new ways to distribute it.
David [00:36:13]: And I think they did a good job of focusing on convenience and time.
Lori: Well, getting to the consumer the fastest. And so, I feel like networks, we can do it if we actually do it, if we shift. But I think that trying to hold on to the old guard of linear TV, linear TV, it might trip us up in the future and I'm worried that the cable industry and the network industry won't be able to keep up. If people are able to get on to people's phones from a Netflix app, or from whatever. If you're able to get into people's main device and you are an app they use regularly, you're going to win by far, typically. Now, I don't know about the business and the revenue modeling and all that stuff, but I do think that consumers want things faster, quicker and curated for them specifically.
David [00:37:06]: Yeah, I mean if you focus on what's convenient for the consumer. Convenient anymore, isn’t you have to be on a Friday night at 9 p.m., you have to be on your couch and you have to watch it in real time.
Lori: I can watch it whenever I want. Think about Netflix in terms of offering up full seasons at a time. That was revolutionary, that was ridiculous. Now, the networks are trying to mimic that same thing by having a full weekend where they show the entire season.
David [00:37:26]: And AMC does something recently with Mad Men and Breaking Bad. They released half season, because they want to get new people to binge watch and catch up, so they kind of released towards the last couple seasons. They released like six and six over two years instead of all twelve. The binge watching thing was all that.
Lori: And TBS, I think did twenty four hours or forty eight hours of one show. I think it was Andy Tribeca, where they did it all [crosstalk]…
David [00:37:54]: I've got a lost on Jamie Foxx reruns or whatever it maybe. On MTV, they'll come, Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, like old school Seinfeld or whatever.
Lori: But that's a cool thing because, now that you mentioned that, I feel like, whereas we have a lot of new stuff original content, I think there's also going to be a place for acquired and old stuff; like TV Land, like you know networks are offering just classic shows [crosstalk]…
David [00:38:15]: Or binge watching on the linear network.
Lori: Right, exactly. So, we just have to figure out how to keep up. And I feel like if we don't quickly figure out a way to distribute our content faster to consumers, we're going to be left behind with the Netflixies and Snapshots.
David [00:38:28]: I think we know where it's going. It's like if you're willing to roll your sleeves up and pivot and adjust, you're going to be just fine. If you want to keep on doing it the old way and kind of be lazy in a way, you may be left behind.
Lori: Well the challenge is the revenue modeling too. So, it’s based on the old school model. So it's going to take a lot of thought leadership to say, how can we shift this.
David [00:38:46]: And ask the executive, “Can we just like not take that five million and just focus over here?” That's a tough proposition to ask.
Lori: You got to be willing to take the risk and that’s a hard one.
David [00:38:54]: That’s a very high risk. What's a common myth in the TV industry that you find that is simply not true?
Lori: I’ll tell you this, the common myth that I hate, that I think is definitely not true, is that people aren't able to multitask and watching TV. People always say, “Oh they're distracted on their phones, so they're not watching your promo”, that's why you have to have VO in your promo for the [inaudible 00:39:19] to say watch this. I can do a million things at once; we’re at work, we're doing e-mail, we're talking on the phone, I'm on a conference call and I’m actually doing [crosstalk]…
David [00:39:26]: Again, we've been reprogrammed to do that better too.
Lori: People can look at their phone on Instagram, still be kind of paying attention to the TV and still get everything they need to get from a promo or whatever. I can still see a promo for Pose, hear the music, look up from my phone and say “oh, I should google that”, look back down on my phone, switch out from Instagram, go to Google, Google Pose and figure out what it is.
David [00:39:44]: How many times do you open up your social apps per day?
Lori: Oh, too many, way too many. I literally have to have a rule not to look at it in the morning in the car.
David [00:39:51]: This is sad. I have a work phone, I have a personal phone. There is one time where I was scrolling Instagram on both, somehow simultaneously.
Lori: Yeah, that’s me.
David [00:39:59]: I got problem, we've got to figure out this.
Lori: It’s a rabbit hole, because there was a time, I was telling somebody; when Facebook actually did not have infinite scroll. So, they actually would let you scroll and then it would stop.
David [00:40:07]: So, that's enough.
Lori: Yeah, because you went through everybody story for that day. Now it’s like a rat hole.
David [00:40:13]: Well, thank you very, very much for joining me Lori.
Lori: You made this so good.
David: Well have to do it again shortly and I hope to see you soon.
Lori: Alright, well now I won’t give you crap about it.
David [00:40:21]: Thank you very much. Alright.