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An Interview with Greg Bae

Senior Director of Strategic Development at Comcast and CFO/COO of Watchable

Greg Bae serves as senior director of strategic development for Comcast, where he’s tasked with growing and managing new internal incubator startups. While Comcast has been a leading provider for internet, cable TV and phone, the company has increasingly become more involved in areas such as home security and advertising technologies, following moves like the acquisition of video ad tech firm FreeWheel.

Bae is also CFO and COO of Watchable, a nationally available cross-platform video service and wholly owned startup within Comcast. The platform, which targets older millennials, is free and ad-supported.

What are your business priorities over the next 12 months?

Greg Bae: Our key goals for Watchable this year are to continue to increase our consumer relevance. We believe we can do that by showing success with audience metrics, such as how many uniques and time spent per unique we can generate.

We feel we can do that through more brand resonance with our target demographic, and also by monetization. Currently, we have a so-called AVOD model—which is advertising-supported video-on-demand—and in the coming year, we’d like to expand into new business drivers and new revenue streams.

What are your biggest challenges today?

Bae: Our challenge is not unique to us; it’s generally applicable for the industry that we play in. The roadblock is how to acquire an audience in a cost-effective and financially sustainable basis. So with Watchable, given that we’ve been in market for just under a year, this remains one of our top challenges, other than building brand equity. Our No. 1 goal is consumer relevance—again, as measured by uniques and time spent by unique—and to do that through paid digital marketing. And, of course, we want to make that work financially for us.

We also encourage our marketers to set up alerts set for their own coverage areas on any of the things that they are interested. This way, they too can be consuming that information and have it at hand when they’re crafting their brand plans.

What value does eMarketer bring to you?

Bae: eMarketer has been an incredibly valuable tool for us in several ways. We take a very data-driven approach to decision-making. This applies to the data that we harvest internally through our platforms, and that in fact also is backing up our performance vis-a-vis competitive benchmarks.

eMarketer is very useful to us because it does a great job of aggregating information from a variety of different sources. I always worry about inherent biases within the data and eMarketer seems more trustworthy than other data sources in that it’s more of a data and research aggregator. In addition to the first-party data eMarketer provides, it also collates information from a variety of different research sources. I really appreciate this.

What are some of your favorite features?

Bae: eMarketer does a very good job of pushing email notifications for subject matters that are relevant to me. For example, I thoroughly enjoyed an email marketing report recently; and it was actually very timely that I got a link to it through eMarketer’s email program. We had just begun to invest heavily into our internal email marketing efforts.

Another feature that appeals to me is the comparative estimates that eMarketer puts together. It used to be that I’d hold this information manually from a variety of different sources and use a homemade spreadsheet to track all this information. The beauty of eMarketer’s comparative estimates is it already pulls it all in a very logical format, and in a data format that’s easy to refer back to and retrieve. I love that I can also double-click the various metrics to see the sources of data, as well as any footnotes that might be associated with the data.

How does eMarketer compare to other resources?

Bae: From a user perspective, eMarketer differentiates itself from others because the data is much more easily retrieved, and in the way the information is presented.

Take advertising, B2B marketing or content marketing. They’re topics that are all presented in a very logical manner. And at the same time, within those given categories, the information is sorted by spreadsheet, PDF or charts, and again, in a very logical way from the end user or researcher’s point of view.

Can you walk me through a recent specific use case where eMarketer helped?

Bae: We rely heavily on social media platforms for viewer acquisition on Watchable. And to that end, we’d like to have a great sense of what benchmarks we should strive for.

There was a recent eMarketer report that was a roundup of email marketing metrics. It included open rate, clickthrough rate, etc. These are metrics that are all hugely valuable for us.

This is, in fact, something we’d like to know for a number of different areas in the space, anything from CPMs, what we can expect for various ad units through our mass marketing efforts to clickthrough rates based on those ad units, and even more performance-oriented tactics such as our email marketing.

Why have you continued to be an advocate for eMarketer across multiple divisions of Comcast?

Bae: I first introduced eMarketer to Comcast several years ago as part of my role in Comcast Ventures. At the time, I believe I was literally the only person at Comcast using eMarketer. Since then, it’s moved into this enterprise licensing program, which is great for both parties.

The reason why I’ve been such an advocate and haven’t hesitated to evangelize the product across the company is No. 1, it’s cost effective. The enterprise subscription per-seat cost is very affordable compared to what else is out there.

But cost aside, the UI presented within eMarketer PRO is great. I can retrieve the data logically, and to even the source of the data. Again, it’s very important for me to not put too much credence into one source, and from that perspective eMarketer does a great job of aggregating data from a number of different sources.

It’s very valuable to me. I’ve actually introduced eMarketer to several colleagues across Comcast even outside of the Watchable effort, and the internal feedback I’ve received has been nothing but positive.

How do you make a case for eMarketer? Are you able to measure return on investment?

Bae: It’s difficult for us to measure ROI because we use eMarketer for a number of different areas for our business. But rather than looking at it from an ROI perspective, as CFO for Watchable, eMarketer provides us with comfort in knowing that we’re taking a rational and data-driven approach to investing in our business. It powers me and my team with the right data to make those sound business decisions and then not have second thoughts or buyer’s remorse.

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Greg Bae

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“eMarketer PRO is a really great way for our markets and marketers to be able to dive into really understanding the landscape of their particular market.”

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