Cognitive

Cloud-based data analysis helps media planning company make smarter decisions

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Active International media planningThere’s a lot more to running effective ads than “lights, camera, action.”

In addition to creative content and messaging, advertisers must purchase media inventory to get their commercials aired by broadcasters. They also need to track their campaigns to make sure that broadcasters air each ad at the right time, and on the right channel.

Sounds simple, but the process of planning, purchasing and tracking media requires experience, strategy, and plain old number crunching.

The difficulty level increases further when the advertiser’s goal is to create nationwide impact by buying lower-cost ads on local TV stations, instead of paying a premium for ad inventory on the national networks. It’s a real challenge to engage audiences while combating the rising costs and complexity of launching an ad campaign across this “unwired network” of local broadcasters.

That’s why more companies are turning to Active International to help them design and execute great marketing and media campaigns on the unwired network. The rapid growth of Active’s unwired media business is a testament to the great service we provide.

However, scaling to meet our clients’ demand for our unwired product has not been easy. This type of media program is so complex that until recently, Active International’s expert team had to work night and day, just to keep current projects running smoothly.

Innovating in the cloud

We knew automating the operations and processes supporting Active International’s unwired media services could eliminate friction and supercharge our efficiency. We looked for the right technology and the right business partner to help us do just that.

We decided to fund our tech development partner, Essextec, to develop a set of new (and now patent-pending) applications to support our unwired media service processes. We built these applications using IBM Cloud and cognitive technologies.

By harnessing the artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities of IBM Watson, our platform can analyze large amounts of data to help the Active International team make smarter, faster decisions. It helps us optimize the use of media inventory by automating the estimation of audiences and assigning the right ads to the right slots. These processes are highly complex, and require analysis of a wide range of different types of data, which is why the versatility of Watson was so critical.

We took care to make the architecture as flexible as possible, so that we could extend its predictive optimization capabilities to support other media buying concepts. As a result, we have subsequently been able to launch our unwired network platform as a standalone media services product under the brand name XACTV.

In addition, we’re doubling down on our cloud investment by moving established systems to IBM Cloud bare metal servers. This will help to keep our data secure and our IT spending low, while providing enterprise-class resilience and performance.

Accelerating return on investment

Thanks to the versatility of IBM technology and the expertise of Essextec, we built the unwired network platform and launched XACTV in just 18 months. The open structure allows for continued enhancements and refinement to keep up with the ever-growing sets of data we need to analyze, as well as enabling us to monitor and improve KPIs for our clients.

With XACTV automating the time-consuming, data-intensive aspects of planning, purchasing and tracking media in the unwired environment, our staff can work much more productively. XACTV helps us meet the increased demand for our media services, without compromising on quality.

Active International has already made a full return on its investment, and we are now building self-service capabilities that will help our clients’ media teams save time and money, too.  We anticipate billings in the first full year of up to $80 million, and we expect that scale to increase in the very near future.

With IBM cognitive and cloud technology, as well as a great technical partner in Essextec, the idea of an AI-augmented workforce is no longer science fiction. We’re seeing the benefits every day.

Read the case study for more details.

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