MIAMI – If the transition to more audience-based television advertising was a horse race, data would be in the lead and plumbing would be a laggard. “I think we’re at an important transitional moment from the world of content-based advertising, which is TV’s legacy to an audience based television world,” says Jonathan Steuer.

That transition is “about three or five or seven percent of the way there,” the Chief Research Officer of Omnicom Media Group opines during a panel discussion at the recent Beet.TV Retreat 2016.

Steuer recalls that when he started in the media business, data availability was a major obstacle. “And in particular, the combination of what I would call small data, the data that lets us understand how individuals are using a bunch of different media devices across the day, with what’s now big data,” Steuer explains.

He defines big data as “the device-level data that’s giving us very precise mounds of data that’s hard to connect together because you can’t connect it across the different platforms.”

Even though the industry is on the path to rationalizing the data piece, “The supply side plumbing is what’s missing to get us all the way to the IP-based, highly targetable, very audience-based future of television,” Steuer says.

Then he shifts to a food metaphor to address the combination of highly targetable and broad reach options available today.

“The problem of today is figuring out what’s the food pyramid of TV circa 2016, 2017 where I can have a balanced diet of my addressable as a sometimes food and still deal with the broad reach,” says Steuer.

He notes that clients like McDonald’s want to say something to everybody, but “what they say to different groups is something advanced television can help them to get to in a more and more focused way.”

Panel moderator Tim Hanlon, Founder & CEO of The Vertere Group, asks Steuer whether traditional media agencies, with their broad-based approach to marketing and media, are up to the task of becoming more data driven.

By way of response, Steuer says client wins of AT&T and Procter & Gamble by Omnicom’s Hearts & Science agency were rooted in the belief that “data is a key ingredient of the full stack, all the way from how do you inform building the right creative plan and the right messages all the way through to how do you target and measure it.”

This interview was conducted at Beet Retreat 2016: The Transformation of Television Advertising, an executive retreat presented by Videology with AT&T AdWorks and the 605. Please find more videos from the event here.