Moneyball for MediaPosted: June 29, 2012
Moneyball for media: an idea after my own heart.
If you know me, you know that I once dreamed of being the general manager of a baseball team and did so after falling in love with Michael Lewis’ depiction of Billy Beane and the Oakland A’s. Well, that dream has since morphed into a passion for advertising, media, and branding, so when Ad Age questioned whether media agencies need their own Paul DePodesta, I was all over it.
Carat, a leading media planning and buying agency and specialist in digital solutions, thinks the answer is yes, and to prove it, hired Mike Vitti as senior VP-group director of the data and analytics practice. Vitti once worked in predictive modeling for the PGA Tour and most recently spent two years in sports sponsorship research at Repucom.
Talk about a career arc I admire. As an former intern in the sports sponsorship and research industry with IEG, Joyce Julius & Associates, and Navigate Research, I can only hope to transition into the media world as seamlessly as Vitti has.
But I digress. Carat has made a significant investment in its data and analytics group – currently consisting of about 30 employees. As Zetti puts it, “Everyone has messy data…In media, there are so many sources and ways to handle things differently, but it’s easy to understand once you understand the nuances. Along the lines of sport, the goal is to win and it’s about how you optimize a variable to win. In this case [of media], we’d optimize toward a sales or brand awareness goal by maximizing a budget to reach people you want to reach. It’s the same principals.”
The idea is easy enough to understand when applied to sports. Data comes easily, tied up in a neat package of stats. For media, the idea is a bit more abstract – and as a result, sort of uncharted territory for a lot of buying agencies. It took out-of-the-box thinking on the part of Billy Beane to heed the advice of people like Bill James and bring saber into the ever-so-traditional realm of baseball. It will take the same sort of thinking – and success – to make analytics an integral part of media planning. Carat, with major clients like Diageo, Adidas, and Disney, might just start the trend.