MightyHive on Media Buying Shifts & How Sellers Can Stand Out

April 30, 2020

While some larger advertisers may be shifting away from linear TV to avoid the risk of waste, Rachel Adams of MightyHive is seeing a new crop of marketers move in to take advantage of the space (and rates) now available, especially through programmatic. That’s just one of the ways the head of Media Activation is seeing changing media consumption open up opportunities.

She spoke with Winmo CEO Dave Currie on that topic, as well as how publishers and vendors can refine their sales approach to effectively tap into the budgets that media planners and buyers are managing right now.

Q: No doubt the mix of media channels for any given client looks different today than it did last month, what formats are rising to the top of your priority list right now? Why?

A: Due to shelter in place, it’s no secret that streaming is top of mind for many advertisers right now. Per Nielsen, streaming accounted for 23% of consumer TV viewing time in March, up from 21% in February. The streaming wars have been underway for years and just happen to be reaching a fever pitch at this unprecedented moment in history. I’ll have a watchful eye on how new services like Quibi, Peacock, and HBOMax fare.

I also think it’s important to talk about linear TV. Live TV viewing grew between 1% and 3% during the last week of March across all demos. As you would expect, a lot of advertisers are shifting away from linear in an effort to reduce waste, especially in the industries that have been hit the hardest like travel and automotive.

The nature of these commitments is much harder to cancel than a digital buy, so in many cases, the most flexibility they have is to push the linear TV buy as far back as possible, and if it’s a quarterly buy, that means the end of June.

So, the result of that is more linear TV available at cheaper prices in April and May. Due to various opportunities to actually buy linear TV through programmatic pipes, this is a great opportunity for marketers for whom the barrier of entry to linear is too high to actually test prime time, for example, SMBs.

Q: How are you adapting media strategies for your clients? 

It’s very specific to each client, but I can speak to insights MightyHive has provided to clients, broken out by vertical at a high level:

  • Essentials, such as CPG and Pharma, are seeing positive trends due to stockpiling behavior.
  • Another stable category is one we’re referring to as “at home discretionary.” This includes entertainment you have inside the home, such as gaming, at home fitness & wellness, and alcoholic beverages & tobacco.
  • From a retail perspective, e-commerce is expected to recover sooner than brick & mortar
  • Lastly, luxury goods and “restricted commerce” (restaurants, travel, automotive, real estate) are expected to recover in Q3 at the earliest based on McKinsey’s facts and insights report released last month

Based on the risk of a sales downturn, marketers have 3 options: 1) maintain the course, 2) adjust and monitor or 3) pause and assess.

Regardless of which of these is the path forward, the overall guiding framework is to “do more with less.” In order to actually act on that, we often recommend starting with an audit of data capture practices and business insights reporting to check that the right data is available to trim low-performing tactics straightaway. This allows marketers to focus efforts on performance and/or outcome-based tactics that can provide tangible business value.


Q: What have you learned in the past two weeks that’s surprised you in terms of clients pivoting marketing and media strategies?

A: Of course, budgets are being cut or deferred across the board as many businesses look to cut costs holistically in order to stay ROI positive, but within marketing budgets, one interesting occurrence for the digital space is seeing things like experiential budgets or budgets for out-of-home campaigns shifted to CPM based “maintenance media.” Insights from the 2008 recession show that it was brand marketing and subsequently TV budgets that took a hit, with typical “always-on” tactics like search and social remaining relatively stable. We are seeing similar trends across our book of business.

At MightyHive, our “calling card” in the marketplace is enabling marketers to take all or part of their media buying operations in-house. We work closely with brands to identify and put in place the technologies and skills that will allow marketing teams to achieve ownership over their programs. This typically begins with a comprehensive audit of the adtech stack, after which we partner with the client to overhaul whatever is necessary to suit the needs of their business: site tagging, taxonomy, financial operations, the list goes on. Depending on the structure of the business unit, we’ll recruit, hire and train various personnel for the in-house team. 

We aren’t surprised that savvy marketers may choose to utilize this tumultuous time to invest in a more viable long-term solution, however, it may seem counterintuitive on the surface to hire in an economic downturn, so I wanted to share that insight for Winmo’s audience.

Advice for the Sell Side

Q: How would you recommend media sales teams that have access to these audiences reach you in a way that’s relevant and comfortable for you?

A: This is a simple suggestion, but backing up any assertions with data that are as relevant to our client base as possible. If you’re selling audience data, the more consumer insights about those audiences, the better: as granular as possible, with methodology. Prove why your media solution is the right one to reach those audiences.


As I mentioned previously, vertical insights help cut through the clutter.

Q: Can you think of an example of an ad sales rep who cut through to you recently? How did they do it and why was their solution of interest?

A: Going back to the in-housing conversation, from a MightyHive perspective, offerings that allow for the marketer to have transparency and control are generally going to get my attention sooner than a managed service offering. I’ve been working on a project recently to vet supply-side platforms (SSPs) and access to resources like deal troubleshooting and audience creation tools has been a differentiating factor for many of them. Also, leading with information on compliance as it relates to GDPR and CCPA is generally helpful from a sales perspective, given it’s an area MightyHive is particularly focused on and we’ll always need to address, regardless of the solution being pitched. While focus may have shifted temporarily away from privacy during this crisis, these regulations aren’t going away and vendors should recognize that.

Audiences & KPIs

Q: Are there specific audiences that you’re looking to reach in new ways? 

Sports fans. Business Insider reported that an internal document from ad agency Magna Global showed TV networks with sports coverage could see viewership declines ranging from 9% to 25%. Marketers are struggling to reach young men who don’t otherwise watch much live TV.

Parents. There’s a new opportunity for marketers to align with educational content since so many of them with small children in the home have taken on homeschooling responsibilities.

Q: Have the KPIs changed?

A: As far as KPIs, since we’re a programmatic heavy firm, we still utilize the power of machine learning to drive performance toward existing KPIs. For example, it doesn’t make sense to manually lower a fixed bid in a DSP because we know CPMs are getting cheaper – if we’re already optimizing media toward a KPI, and machine learning is constantly improving performance, we’ll hit those lower CPMs just by nature of how the platform bids.

That being said, we do need to shift our measurement frameworks in many instances, for example, changing the lookback windows if we expect the consideration phase to be longer due to consumers’ inability to actually take action.

One instance would be retailers with brick and mortar locations – if we’re used to ingesting data on offline conversions to inform our digital media buying, that model will have to be revisited.

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