DRMA Spotlight: Targeting Health-Focused Viewers — in Programming and Advertising1 Oct, 2016 By: Thomas Haire Response
Rafe Oller says cable network Z Living’s programming offers prospective advertisers a fresh slate of shows reaching a crucial demographic — across all media platforms.
Rebranded in late 2014, Z Living is a TV network that brings viewers the best in health entertainment both on air and online (zliving.com). In September 2015, Rafe Oller joined the Los Angeles-based network as general manager. Recently, Response caught up with Oller for this DRMA Spotlight.
Q: What makes Z Living an attractive buy in today’s marketplace?
Oller: Our goal is to be the most advertiser-friendly network on the spectrum, and to offer maximum flexibility to brands looking to reach their buyers. Z Living’s audience is women 25-54, who are not only keenly interested in health and lifestyle, but are also savvy consumers and household decision makers. At the same time our visibility is growing nationwide — Z Living is on major carriers like AT&T, DISH, Verizon FiOS, Cablevision, and more — we have made an unprecedented commitment and investment in original programming to create the most compelling content for this audience.
We continue to build key relationships with like-minded brands and producers, including POPSUGAR, and in April we announced our slate of upcoming originals — including Finding Fido, Altar’d, Yoga Girls, and The Big Fat Truth, which explore lifestyle genres such as family, pets, food, fitness, home, and even work. The series are smart, funny, and emotional — and really exemplify how wellness is woven into just about every facet of life.
Q: What’s your professional background and how did you come to your role at Z Living?
Rafe Oller: From distribution, I transitioned to marketing, where I got to focus on creative solutions to selling programming — and advertisers — in highly competitive markets, from local stations and big broadcasters like FOX, to cable networks and content-first companies like Warner Bros. I’ve amassed a pretty diverse background during 20 years, and that positioned me to run an emerging network like Z Living. Marketing has its hands in all aspects of TV, so experience supporting programming, sales, and distribution is why marketers often end up running networks.
What attracted me to Z Living were the timing and the value proposition — health entertainment. These kinds of opportunities don’t come along every day, and for me it made perfect sense. It’s been a great experience so far with a significant amount of growth and progress, so I’m very enthused and optimistic about the future.
Q: What does Z Living do for performance-based marketers that sets it apart from other companies in this space?
Oller: Z Living offers health entertainment content that sets it apart from other lifestyle networks by offering a flexible platform that allows brands to connect as personally as possible with users of products designed to enhance daily life — household products, exercise equipment and programs, all kinds of cuisine, cooking essentials, and many other types of products. Anything that speaks to the way people live and what’s important to them is at home on Z Living.
Q: What’s the history behind Z Living?
Oller: Z Living is essentially a brand new network. While it existed before in another form, we’re re-launching with an entirely new slate of shows, and we’ve assembled one of the best teams in cable television on all fronts — programming, marketing, and distribution. We premiered a new slate of acquired programing in June, doubled our distribution this past July, and we’re slated to launch our first block of original programming — with new series Finding Fido, Altar’d, and Conquered — in January 2017. We’re now reaping rewards that have been a year in the making, with the major shift of the last year in our branding, as Z Living has moved away from being about health information to a network focused on health entertainment.
To that end, we also amped up our outreach to the entertainment and ad communities; we opened new offices in Hollywood, to gain access to the center of the creative community, and we moved to new corporate offices in New York, in the Empire State Building, as well as opening a sales office in Chicago. These moves are all symbolic of our renewed efforts across the board, and a testament to hiring top people from all disciplines, while also expanding our key relationships — including signing Opportunity Media to handle all of our direct response.
Q: What key clients have had success using Z Living’s offerings?
Oller: We’ve had great success with fitness products like Nordic Track, pet products like Blue Buffalo, Wayfair in the home space — and many more.
Nordic Track has been a very successful partnership. They’ve been able to reach a very desirable, higher-income consumer for their premiere exercise product. The environment on Z Living, especially our fitness block, has been a great boost to engagement for Nordic Track.
Oller: In the past year, we’ve doubled our distribution, and made the single largest commitment to original programming in our history, securing deals with some of television’s most successful and well-respected production companies, including 3 Ball Entertainment, POPSUGAR Studios, Bodega Pictures, and The CO.
Q: What are two of the hottest topics facing marketers today?
Oller: Attribution and opportunity. Attribution remains a very important challenge for marketers as they try to focus on their most effective channels that drive sales. With that said, it has been proven that television drives an incredible volume of retail and online sales, along with the fact that it is an essential part of a marketer’s mix. And of course, with all of the change in technology comes vast opportunity. There are ever-increasing ways to leverage our great content as we connect brands with consumers, and we look to do that wherever they are consuming the content and messaging.
Q: What are Z Living’s plans for the next three-to-five years?
Oller: We aim to be top of mind for any DR campaign targeting women who are looking for products that deliver quality and convenience, and who strive to lead healthier, happier lives. On the network front, we’re planning to be fully distributed and to continue to serve as a media destination for consumers of health entertainment — and to be a leading source for that content. ■