Rod Schween Talks Validate
One of radio’s greatest sales challenges in the digital era is validating the effectiveness of radio advertising with quantifiable data. That code has been cracked by Canada’s Pattison Media. They’ve developed a game changing technology platform, aptly named – Validate.
Shawn: Pattison is partnered with Momentum Media Marketing, the parent company of Broadcast Dialogue to bring Validate to market with the goal of becoming an industry wide solution for radio by radio people.
So let’s get inside Validate – Rod Schween is the CEO of Pattison Media, and he joins me now.
Rod, thanks for being here.
Rod: Yeah, you’re welcome. Thanks for asking me. It’s great to be a guest.
Shawn: Pattison identified an industry problem with regards to client retention. Can you tell me about that?
Rod: As we know radio getting its fair share of advertising dollars is not a new problem. We were looking for some solutions to hopefully give our sales reps some tools on how to fight that problem, especially I think in smaller markets where there is no measurement at all. There, there are no ratings.
We started to embark on a different way of trying to find some attribution for radio. We had used some of the products that were out there, and they had their positives, but we also thought that there was some things that maybe didn’t work so well in them.
We wanted to see if we could come up with something ourselves that, hopefully was by broadcasters for broadcasters and might solve a couple of issues that those existing products weren’t able too.
Shawn: Can you get inside that a little bit and tell me a little bit more about after looking around, what prompted you to embark on something that most broadcasters would probably not jump into – developing a platform of your own to solve the problem.
Rod: There’s a couple of things there – we’ve got ratings in a number of markets, but as we know, ratings can fluctuate and they’re an estimate, but we thought we can build an estimate based off a known fact. So we went to our own streaming data. Many times, whether it was ratings or even some of the other attribution pieces, we thought, some of this doesn’t match up with our streaming data that we’re seeing and it’s frustrating.
And so we thought, well, let’s go with what we know and that’s our streaming data, how can we then take that and try and build upon that information. And could we possibly build an algorithm or a factor to determine here’s our streaming audience. Can we extrapolate from that and try and determine what our over the air audience is. And therefore, know the results that an advertiser would’ve received based on that extrapolation.
Shawn: Now, this is really solving for the unknown piece and using all the data to be able to do that. Now, I understand that this methodology is been vetted by some pretty experienced individuals in the industry. Can you tell me about that?
Rod: Yeah. I mean, we obviously started to look at this and our team came up with something that we felt pretty excited about. We got some outside data solutions companies involved, one, a company named Fast Loop which was founded by a former Pattison employee who worked at our corporate office. He was very interested in data science and went off and started his own company. He knew some of the challenges that we were having with measurement and how he could help us.
I’m not going to get into all the technical things behind it because it’s way above my pay grade, but way smarter people than me will share more of that information with you.
They went away and looked at this and managed to come up with an algorithm or a factor, if you will, to extrapolate from the streaming audience what the over the air audience was. And so we’ve taken that and shown that to other broadcasters. We’ve shown that to the folks at Radio Connects, who you know, when we were walking through that conversation, we heard back from them that this was matching up with a lot of other research that they had seen – and so it fits in nicely. We were kind of working down this path independently and it was being backed up by information that they’re generally seeing in other radio surveys and in other advertising data that they have access too.
Shawn: I think the thing that makes Validate sort of next level too, is the conversion piece. Now Pattison has the luxury of being part of a larger group that has auto dealerships. How did you go about using that opportunity to help those auto dealerships and what were some of the learnings that came out of that?
Rod: Well, we did it not only with our own internal company assets, but we went to some of our trusted media partners out there, or advertisers out there and said, look, we’re developing something. We’d like to be able to put a tracking pixel on your website and see what we learn out of it and whatever we learn, we’ll share the data with you.
So. it takes a bit of a leap of faith in your product because it’s doing something that somebody had not really tried before. Fortunately, in all those cases the results came back very strong. So in addition to being able to extrapolate the over the air audience, we then take that next step and put a tracking pixel on that then allows us to see if somebody listens to our stream. How many occasions do they then have to listen to before they potentially go and visit an advertiser’s website? And that’s the attribution piece that we then can determine how many occasions have they had to listen to how many days between them first hearing an ad, and before they actually go and make a visit to an advertiser’s website.
So that’s been some very powerful data. And of course, we’ve looked at that at auto, we looked at it at retail. We’re starting to look at that in some of the service sectors, real estate, all those areas. We think we’ll be able to get some general data if you will, on advertising but then we’ll be able to dig into some very specific categories and know what best practices are – how many days should it take across the platform.
Shawn: When using Validate Audio Attribution, you’re creating, you’re leveraging all this data. The PPM listening data, the streaming data, the data that’s coming out of the traffic systems and the play out systems and bringing it all in to create a dashboard where the rep and the client, if desired, can look at those impressions. What are some of the ‘oh wows’ that have come out of this?
Rod: First of all, it’s a great point.
We’ve been in this process so long that you sometimes forget that, that was another big goal we had – all this data and it was all living in different systems, if you will. First and foremost, it was a way to bring all that information under one roof and that’s valuable to use with our advertisers.
It’s valuable internally as well on what are we doing in our own operations. And we can harness that data in ways that we hadn’t tried to, or hadn’t thought of before? Because again, some of it was in the traffic system, some of it was in the cloud, from our streaming provider in those dashboards.
They were just little bits and pieces living all over the place and that was one of the main goals when we started was – how do we get all this data put together?
I want to say the other thing is we’re not satisfied with where we’re at – one of the things about our organization is, we get to a certain level, but we always like to
What other sources of data can we bring in? We don’t want to just rest on our laurels that these are the only data sources. In some cases, we’re extrapolating data from another market to project – should those same behaviors be true in maybe a small market, for example.
What other data sources can we bring in that might help improve that extrapolation within those different markets? And again, I’m thinking mainly, that our group was founded on small markets. Some of these stations are very transparently, some of our best performing stations in our group.
We want to find every possible resource to make them as successful as we can. And so, what other data sources might be out there that are available, Every time I’m talking to somebody about data Validate is in the back of my mind. There’s something here that we could leverage that might help Validate be even more accurate for Rocky Mountain House or Drayton Valley or Port Alberni, BC.
Shawn: The vision is truly remarkable regarding the audio attribution piece, as it pertains to the product as you’ve outlined here. But what’s even more impressive is early on you’ve had a vision that this really is not just a Pattison, opportunity. This is an industrywide potential solution. And in fact, it could even become an industry standard. Can you talk to that a little bit?
Rod: The thing I hear when I talk to big clients and agencies and I’m talking to the folks at Radio Connects, they’re all saying. “We’ve got to find ways to make radio easier to buy and easier to execute on.” And, you know, I am a firm believer that in order for me to win, you don’t have to lose.
I am very proud to work for a company that always looks for win-win solutions, wherever we possibly can. And so, that was the cornerstone for me early on because I thought, we can improve our own bottom line off this thing, but boy, if we could really get this rolled out across the country, could this make a significant difference? So that radio advertising doesn’t under share its audience share.
I’d love to say that it’s the good humanitarian in me, but I love our industry so much and I think we’ve been undervalued for a long period of time. I’d like to see us as a radio industry, get our fair share. And I think the only way we do that is we have to work on this together. One company succeeding is not going to solve some of the problems that we have as an industry.
Shawn: How important was it for you to engage a third party to operate the platform, versus going it alone?
Rod: Well, I think it was very important. I mean, a couple of things right off the bat, as much as I really want to commend all the broadcast leaders in Canada at the moment, we all compete as we do in our space, but we realize that our competitors aren’t at the radio station across the street anymore.
It’s the big audio platforms that are coming in and stealing our dollars away and the big digital platforms. And so, I think there is a willingness to cooperate like there never has been before in our industry. And I’m very glad to see that and really proud of the leadership in Canada at the moment.
A lot of people have worked very, very hard on things like, Radio Player and Ian Lurie did an amazing job as the CEO of Radio Council Leader for many years, trying to do great things for radio in Canada. And when you’re part of that – how can I be a part of that and how can I help contribute to the solution?
But you know, back to Momentum – I didn’t want this to be solely seen as a Pattison project.
I wanted to be able to look people in the eye and say, Pattison is not going to have access to any of your proprietary data, because we’re asking companies to share a lot in the platform in order to be able to really make it as powerful as it possibly can be.
And they need some assurance that that information is going to be safe. And so it’s important that there’s a third party in between. It’s also important, again, Pattison is not going to profit from Validate in Canada. The operation of this has been turned over to Momentum to sell and operate.
We’re definitely going to stay involved in. And as I mentioned before, try and find other data sources to bring in ways to improve the platform. And, that’ll be our contribution in Canada as well as obviously, utilizing it for our own internal sales resources.
Shawn: Now in this series, we’re going to get further under the hood with some of the tech minds behind Validate, but for now we’re going to let you off the hook.
But before we do that, At the end of the day, there’s an ROI for broadcasters. I wonder if you were in some of those meetings, what are the few of the phrases that you would’ve used to the other CEOs to define the return of using a platform like this?
Rod: I mean, it really was terms like, ROI and the fact that we were looking at this as – how can we make sure that this is a win for the broadcaster, but ultimately, a win for the advertiser. And, be able to show them that it’s something that we’ve always felt that radio has – it is an amazing platform for advertisers.
And sometimes it doesn’t get its fair share credit of, delivering that last mile sale. When of course, quite often radio’s the last thing a lot of people are listening to as they make that last mile journey to purchase. And now we finally have a way to prove it, to demonstrate. And give the client confidence that their radio dollars are achieving, real bona-fide results. In a lot of cases at a more compelling CPM than perhaps some of the big tech opportunities are.
I would like to actually take a moment and thank Andrew Snook and thank our teams, our sales leaders, Katie O’Connor and Mike Gene who have helped contribute to this and provide feedback and all of our sales reps and sales managers in the company that helped us bring this platform to where it is today.
That was a big aha moment for Andrew and I, when he came back and said, you know we’d always maybe thought that radio’s CPM was slightly higher.
We didn’t know what we didn’t know until we started kind of digging in. Right. And we were pleasantly surprised to see how that extrapolated out in virtually all of our markets.
It turned out to be extremely competitive. And in fact, it may, as time moves on the data and the learnings that come out of Validate either by format, by product category, any which way you slice it will be able to have data to apply in just about every situation and even make decisions on rates and so on to keep radio as competitive and as profitable as possible.
We all face a lot of rate pressure. Sometimes we’re our own worst enemies in that fact. But again, I think having more and more competitors coming at us that, whether you believe their data or not, they at least have more data than we have had up to this point.
And again, I think, knowledge and information is power and the more that we can provide to our sales teams, hopefully that allows us to turn the tide a bit because boy, sometimes I think, especially having come through the pandemic now. So many of our local businesses are still struggling to get back up on their feet and you want to make sure that every dollar that they spend, you can show them that those dollars are justified being spent and back up why you’re asking the rates that you are. And sometimes it’s been a little too easy to drop rates in some markets rather than fighting for our fair share
Shawn: Rod, I really appreciate your vision and your partnership on Validate Audio Attribution. And I can’t wait to further this series and get deeper inside it. Thank you very much for your time today.
Rod: Well, we sure appreciate the partnership as well.
You know, this project – we felt we had something pretty special here – but having that third party piece was so, so important and to have the right partner was equally as important to us because Jimmy doesn’t partner with too many other companies, normally likes to control things on his own.
In this case it made sense, good sense to have a, a third party involved. And we’re really excited to be working with your team.
Shawn: Thank you very much. And thanks for joining us. Have a great day. Rod Schween is CEO of Pattison Media. For more information on Validate Audio Attribution. Follow validate.audio for more.
Pattison Media partners with Momentum to launch Validate Pattison Media has announced a strategic partnership that will see Vancouver’s Momentum Media Marketing license and launch its Validate
We Know Radio Works.
Validate is the radio advertising measurement and audio attribution technology platform, developed for Radio by Radio!