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A Reinvention of Added Value in Media

Added value has always been a standard practice in media negotiations. Historically, added value was synonymous with “freebies” – if a brand bought $100K of media from a partner, that partner would throw in $10K worth of free inventory or impressions. That’s changed. Current media strategy shifts focus to data-led, optimizable tactics including programmatic, SEM, and social.

Brands, and the agencies that represent them, needed to get more creative in their approach to paid media campaigns. Added value options in entertainment are evolving as all parties start to consider what assets they can use to build strategic partnerships with each other.

Understanding the Value Exchange

We often talk about the value exchange in terms of consumers and brands, and how important it is for marketers to understand what benefits they can give customers in exchange for their loyalty. A similar concept holds true for media partnerships within entertainment. Entertainment brands should consider what they can uniquely offer a partner to elevate media buys or create an opportunity not previously for sale.

Let’s think about a TV network as an example. Networks have unique access to on-air talent from their most popular shows. An entertainment site partner would likely find immense value from a guaranteed interview with a show’s star actor. The network would benefit, too – the social promotion and broader amplification of that interview would drive increased awareness for the star and their show. When we think about our unique value proposition and how it can meet a partner’s needs, the relationship morphs from being simply transactional to a meaningful brand connection.

Using Data to Maximize Owned and Operated (O&O) Inventory

One of the greatest assets that entertainment brands possess is O&O space. Unlocking the value of O&O and planning in conjunction with paid promotion is key to maximizing the added value of a campaign beyond just negotiated freebies. Today’s O&O includes more variety than ever before, spanning cable, movie studios, linear TV, streaming apps, YouTube channels, video on-demand platforms, and talents’ social channels. With so many different platforms, networks have the ability to reach a variety of audiences without exiting their own ecosystems.

The key to using O&O strategically is data.  Media agencies lean into data to inform paid targeting and strategy. This approach should also apply to O&O. Advanced analytics can unlock audience insights across different platforms, programs, channels (in cases where a network owns multiple), dayparts, etc. that enable a thoughtful approach to where, when, and how to promote each show.

A data-driven approach is critical in today’s environment, with ROI increasing in importance. Budget cuts over the past two years forced networks to 1) make their own inventory work harder for them and 2) devote more O&O inventory to external ad sales. Smart audience targeting rooted in data allows networks to maximize the space they have to promote their shows and increase viewership.

Adding Value Outside of Entertainment

The entertainment vertical is unique with its owned and operated inventory, but a similar added value approach can apply to other categories across the board. Most companies have a unique toolbox of assets that they can offer to partners. A shop with a storefront on a busy city street, for example, has valuable window space. Cars have tech-enabled dashboard screens. Ecommerce brands have shipping packaging that’s scattered on doorstops across the country. With a little creativity, almost any brand can find a way to form partnerships where both parties get added value.


Added value may be an old concept, but there’s nothing stale about the way it’s handled in entertainment now. With a deep understanding of their toolsets, their partners, and their audiences, networks can continue to find new, innovative ways to add value for themselves and media platforms.

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