Bell Media adds linear attribution to SAM buying system

The change will allow SAM to become a broader 360-degree tool.
ANTONIA THOMAS, CHRISTINA CHANG, NICHOLAS GONZALEZ, FREDDIE HIGHMORE

It’s been 18 months since Bell Media unveiled its Strategic Audience Management – or SAM – buying tool, initially envisioned as a way to allow advertisers to add more granularity to their buys using intelligent audience segments.

Since then, the media giant has made major updates to SAM in order to integrate Bell’s own first-party data, give buyers more customization options and make the platform more user-friendly. Yesterday, it unveiled the latest iteration of SAM at its Fall 2020 Upfronts (or, in Bell Media’s case, its “Homefront”), announcing that the tool now allows, among other things, attribution from linear television.

“It’s one of the advantages of being a vertically integrated company,” explains Mark Finney, VP of strategic sales for Bell Media.

He explains: “Why this is so freaking cool is that we are able to isolate the households in which ads have been delivered – all aggregated and anonymized – and look at how those ads affected web traffic from those households.” The company’s tests compared control groups to exposure groups, with ads demonstrating a consistent uptick in web traffic.

Darryl Coburn, VP of national sales for Bell Media, adds that not every client will take advantage of every feature on SAM. “Having attribution as part of a campaign makes sense if the creative has a call-to-action to go online, but it might not apply to all campaigns.”

Nevertheless, says Coburn, the ongoing intent with SAM is to make it much more than a platform through which to add more segmented data to buys. “The future vision of SAM is to see it as a really great platform with a client-friendly user interface that people will be able to engage with and not only purchase customized audience segments, but also do traditional buying through the platform. We’re looking it as much more than the segmented audiences. You can buy all audiences on it.”

Finney says TV is generally viewed as an effective platform for reach and brand awareness, but that this update is for those looking for more tangible proof and metrics. “Most people would acknowledge that TV is a very strong vehicle for building brands, but because of the nature of TV compared to digital, it’s not as easy to measure the effect on website traffic or other factors. It’s a big data job that involves a lot of stitching together.”

Finney and Coburn say that SAM is constantly evolving, with recent updates including adding Bell’s first party data (all privacy compliant) to allow buyers to create custom segments, as well as developing a self-serve interface for the tool.

Besides the updates to SAM, Bell Media also offered a number of alterations to its typical Upfront buying policies; there is now no fixed D-day for buyers. Any price increases will, as always, be driven by demand. Bell Media will hold its first rate card until at least July 10, and could extend the hold beyond that depending on demand. It’s reduced the standard cancellation notice for fully booked campaigns to two weeks (down from four), and fall campaigns booked by July 31 will be guaranteed 100% audience delivery for adults 18 to 49, 25 to 54 and women 25 to 54.