'At The Same Time As Being Confusing, Metrics Can Be Often Overvalued'

We sat down with David Berzin, VP of Social Data Strategy at Viacom


David Berzin is the VP of Social Data Strategy at media conglomerate Viacom, having been with the company since 2007. In his role, David is responsible for focusing on bottom-line objectives, revenue growth, and the end user experience. David works closely with business, engineering and design teams to deliver high-impact projects.

Ahead of his presentation at the Digital Strategy Innovation Summit this March 21-22 in New York, we sat down with David to talk all things social strategy and the digital economy.

What are the major misconceptions about curating a social strategy?

Social platforms offer more visible metrics than almost any other medium – views, followers, comments, engagements, more. As such, there is tremendous confusion about which numbers to follow and what each one means. For example, views. Is one million views a good metric? What if the views are only 3 seconds, auto-played, with the sound off and via paid placement? How do those million views compare with an average prime time broadcast television show?

At the same time as being confusing, metrics can be often overvalued. There is so much data available on social that some of the artistry can get lost. At Viacom we have built toolsets to predict trending content, select social influencers and measure impact – but these quant-rich systems best work as guideposts for the creative teams that partner with our data geeks.

How do you approach new social platforms?

Viacom has always prided itself to be first in the game. The same applies to Social. While we value scale and work deeply with the ‘big platforms’, we were also the first to partner meaningfully with Snapchat, Tumblr and Musical.ly when they were nascent.

Do you feel that you have a grip on your social insights now with data analysis?

I sure hope so as Social Data Strategy is my mandate! We also have incredibly talented research teams on the corporate and brand level, as well as dedicated Marketing and Partner (ad sales) researchers. We have our fingers on the vast amount of standard public and private social data sets, as well as a number of rich partnerships with social data vendors. Perhaps most importantly, we have internal data science teams that aggregate and enrich these external data sets to derive meaningful new insights our content production teams and advertisers.

How will the digital economy evolve and over the coming years and how can businesses better prepare for this?

I believe we’re shifting from a period of fragmentation now to a period of unification. When Viacom creates marketing campaigns for our partners, we truly think cross platform – embracing and solving for the operational hurdles that the widening network of distribution points provide. When a brand chooses to partner with Viacom for say, the Video Music Awards, they expect their content to appear on broadcast TV, social, integrated marketing placements and more. Our data tools - and the overarching Viacom business - are rapidly evolving to meet this need.

You can hear more from David, along with many other leading digital strategy executives, at the Digital Strategy Innovation Summit this March 21-22 in New York. To see the full schedule, click here.

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