Kolin Kleveno is the Senior Vice President of Addressable Media at Tinuiti. Before that, he spent the bulk of his career at 360i building out programmatic and addressable solutions. He's an avid snowboarder, craft beer connoisseur, and currently resides in the suburbs of New York with his family.
Joe: Thanks for joining us today, Kolin. I'm looking forward to our conversation on programmatic advertising, social media, and advanced TV. Before we dive in, why don't you start by introducing us to Tinuiti?
Kolin: Tinuiti is the largest independent performance marketing firm across streaming TV, Google, Amazon, and Facebook. Everything is powered by our proprietary technology called Mobius, which is a suite of marketing intelligence and media activation technologies. It allows us to understand the data at every touchpoint and infer what comes next so that we can make the smartest recommendation to our clients. At Tinuiti, we think about connecting brands to their customers across channels with more comprehensive digital marketing strategies than the alternatives.
Joe: Where does the name Tinuiti come from? What does it mean?
Kolin: The name Tinuiti is a combination of "acuity", "creativity", and "connectivity".
Joe: How would you describe what makes Tinuiti unique beyond being the largest independent performance marketing firm?
Kolin: First, our programmatic team is not just slinging banner ads. We have robust capabilities so that when we think about programmatic, it's a way of buying all types of media from banner ads and video to OOH and beyond. And when we think of social, we think of it not just as running on Meta properties, but the full diverse portfolio from Reddit and Snapchat to Pinterest and TikTok.
Another example is email, which is usually a forgotten area for media agencies, but we have a large email team that helps clients with using the medium to drive both performance and retention. And then there's retail, which is an emerging growing area but one we've been a leader in for years (Tinuiti recently acquired Amazon Specialist-agency, Ortega Group). Our hundred-person retail media team operates across Amazon properties as well as Walmart, Instacart, and others.
And finally, I'll touch on advanced TV. TV used to be thought of not as a performance channel, but rather as a brand awareness play. With our acquisition of Bliss Point Media, Tinuiti is now the largest buyer of streaming TV for performance purposes. We have our own proprietary way to measure streaming TV (and even linear) to show advertisers that these channels can be held to more down-funnel type of metrics.
Essentially, when we say we are a full-service marketing firm, we have the people and technology to back it up.
Joe: You mentioned this briefly already, but how do you think about programmatic?
Kolin: The term has been around for quite some time and has become synonymous with retargeting and banner ads. But as we've developed as an industry, the means of programmatic have expanded massively. Our whole philosophy around programmatic is that we need to break clients of this mentality that programmatic is a "thing". It is not a thing; it's a way of buying media, and every type of media can be purchased programmatically. We are trying our hardest to get that message out there. It's time for the term to fade into the background. Ultimately, the client shouldn't care how you are buying. So when a client says, "we have X amount of dollars for programmatic", we challenge that and get to the heart of what they are looking to do and plan across all programmatically-enabled channels accordingly.
Joe: Should marketers think of brand and performance marketing separately?
Kolin: I don't think you should separate them. Our philosophy is brand performance. All media should be held accountable. If you come in and only have performance dollars, then you're missing a large portion of your audience. After a while, you are going to see that those dollars don't perform as well because you keep hammering the same people who are in that known pool. You have to always be doing some sort of branding to get your name to new viewers. So that's our philosophy. They should not be decoupled. We do both, and it's all held accountable through measurement and assigning appropriate metrics and KPIs.
Joe: I've heard you mention "Advanced TV". Can you help us define a few terms?
Kolin: There are so many different terms. Connected TV (CTV) doesn't incorporate Linear TV, so I use Advanced TV because it combines the two. The agency also thinks about this separately from streaming, which is device agnostic. Premium content can be delivered (streamed) to the big screen or smaller screens. When we talk about Advanced TV, we are referring to the large screen in the house.
Joe: TV is such a hot space right now. What is happening in TV that is worth talking about?
Kolin: Everything is happening. The biggest news is that Nielsen is being challenged from being the preferred currency. NBC is being the most vocal in leading the charge about how there are other currencies that we want to use. You're seeing the industry accept more measurement metrics than in the past. You're seeing measurement expand beyond GRP into attention and other metrics. And you're seeing the absolute explosion of content and competition that TV has. Some people look at TikTok and YouTube as their main sources of entertainment. They aren't even looking for what we call "premium" content. They are looking at creators as their main source of entertainment because some of these creators are doing such great content that people want to "tune-in" to watch. It's not that people need high budget production to entertain them. These are threats to TV that is has never seen before. TV is not dead; it's just evolving.
Joe: What does the future look like for TV?
Kolin: You are seeing it in the new fronts that occurred in early May. It's becoming more transactional in terms of being able to watch not just passively, but you're seeing the industry move more toward a lean-in approach where you can watch a video and click on it. The reality is you are seeing much more of the ability to do some sort of shopping element. It's been long predicted that this would come. We are actually on the precipice of it. There's also technology being developed for brand integrations into programming with virtual product placements. We're seeing the digitization of traditional media, which will continue. What consumers want is less friction to transact and take action. There are going to be a lot of seamless methods coming to TV soon. You're seeing it on the social side where people can transact on the platform and check out within Instagram, for example. The old processes and journeys that we've made consumers go on are changing. They are being truncated. We'll see that in TV too.
Joe: Today, TV ads are locked into 15s and 30s, but creators aren't thinking about creating a TV ad. They are creating engaging content of whatever length it needs to be. Do you ever see the traditional 15s and 30s TV spot evolving into different non-traditional, more creator-friendly lengths?
Kolin: I think it's going to be hard to mess with linear at all. Depending on how Connected TV develops, there is no reason why we couldn't tell stories of different lengths.
Joe: Netflix has been in the news recently with the possibility of an ad-supported tier. Do you think Netflix will do anything interesting or innovative?
Kolin: I hope so. They have been reluctant. It would be sad if they became yet another network. I think they have the ability to incorporate ads in a way that doesn't affect the integrity that people have grown to expect from Netflix. They have a rich recommendation engine. If you are going to do an ad, Netflix could really lead in making more relevant advertising. I'm hoping they still bring the philosophy of making a more friendly consumer experience, even in ads.
Joe: Rather than a single dominant social network, we're seeing a lot of social networks. How do you think about the social media landscape?
Kolin: There is a place for all these platforms because they have different audiences that grew up with each platform, and they have different use cases. TikTok is arguably not even that much of a social network; it is a video content entertainment platform. Snapchat is doing interesting things with AR. So, when we think about our plans, we think about our audience and where they are aggregating. We are using all the major social platforms. They each have a role. You always have to start with the audience first.
Joe: Spaceback and Tinuiti partnership. What excites you about that?
Kolin: Early access to new products. The actual technical integration that we are developing will be game-changing. To be able to go to our clients and more seamlessly draft off their social assets is a huge win. Plus with Launch Pad TM (I'm not sure if I'm allowed to talk about that), to do it in an automated fashion will really unlock the power of combining Social and Programmatic efforts through creative. To be able to break outside of the walled gardens - people spend a lot of time in the walled gardens, but they also spend a significant amount of time outside of them. These are just a few of the aspects that make the Spaceback and Tinuiti partnership so exciting.
Joe: Thank you for taking the time to share some insights today. I have so many questions I didn't get to today. Perhaps we'll have the opportunity to do this again in the future.
Kolin: Thanks for having me! I really enjoyed this and would do it again anytime.