Dana Bhargava, Head of Experience Planning & Media, Sanofi Consumer Health, took the virtual stage at Cadent’s Future of TV summit to speak with Jamie Power, Chief Data Officer, Cadent, about getting started with OTT and CTV, reaching fragmented audiences and much more.

Catch a video of the session, plus a full recap of the conversation, below.

Jamie mentioned that during the pandemic, people became more health conscious. How exactly did Dana’s brand supported that behavioral shift?

“Our goal at Sanofi has always been about empowering people to take control of their health,” Dana said. And in trying times, it becomes even more important to communicate that message. Sanofi’s OTC products were impacted by pantry loading earlier in the pandemic, and the brand had to make sure that its distribution channels were clear and that its products were available for customers who depend on them.

The pandemic has accelerated consumer behavior in certain ways, some unexpected, Dana said, putting marketers on their toes: “It’s both scary and exciting at the same time because it really stimulates change within an organization and sets an organization on fire to go chase those areas where we know we’re not going to be able to keep up.”

Reaching fragmented audiences across screens

With so much fragmentation today, Jamie, asked, was Dana satisfied with her insight into understanding audiences across screens, whether it be reach building or frequency building. Dana replied no, that with all the wall gardens out there, “we live in a world where we really don’t really understand duplication at all,” adding, “Some duplication isn’t bad, some frequency isn’t bad. I think there’s work to be done there. Certainly I think we really need to understand that. CTV OTT is just one part of it.”

This whole idea of bringing data to TV is really the start of evolution of all of our channels to make them all more accountable. And I think we have to work as an industry to start breaking down some of these walled gardens.” -Dana Bhargava, Head of Experience Planning & Media, Sanofi Consumer Health

Ad environment is key

Sanofi has always had strong guidelines on content, Dana said, and some those content guidelines don’t exist in other channels. And this year, as social media platforms struggle with brand safety, the issues becomes increasingly important to Sanofi, which Dana said could continue to drive shifts back to looking for those environments where you can have some kind of guarantee of where an ad is actually showing up.

Why buy an ad in a skippable environment? For many marketers, it comes down to going where their audiences go. Dana said, “Audiences still continue to be there [in skippable ad environments]… Audiences are there, and there’s content in which you want to align with.” Sanofi thinks about using the first three seconds of its ads in that context really carefully, and they consider the  specific customer journey stage the person might be in.

Building a foundation for OTT and CTV within a brand

Sanofi’s approach to investing in specific channels, Dana said, is one that is investment agnostic and aims to understand consumers and their consumer journeys, being able to deliver against what an audience is looking for as opposed to having a sort of siloed approach to planning.

Dana said she thinks about using CTV and OTT to increase reach against audiences that might be harder to find in linear TV today: “CTV OTT can be a great add to driving incremental reach against all those precision tactics that you have,” adding that the medium can create quality environments that you want to run in, more opportunities for you to put longer-form content out in front of unskippable content, and importantly, increased scale against a lot of those precision audiences.

Any emerging medium is going to have a ramp up period while marketers try it out and decide if it’s worth the investment. Being a champion for mediums like OTT, CTV or addressable TV within an organization can be difficult, especially if it’s outside of the traditional box.

If you can really focus on what you’re trying to accomplish and what the role of your channels are,  it will almost tell its own story as to why you’re [trying the new medium],” Dana said. If your goal is upper funnel awareness, then you need to drive reach and share of voice against your competitors, which you can’t do successfully without other carefully orchestrated tactics. Dana added, “Contextualizing the spend against what its role is always helps to have those conversations internally.”

Learn more about the future of data-driven TV advertising in our series, “Coming to Terms with TV Ad Terms.”

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