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.

Listen to the full show here: (and please subscribe to our podcast)

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.”