Measuring TV the way people watch it

As viewing habits continue to evolve, Bob Ivins writes about why we need to measure advertising reach across time, platforms and devices.

The TV industry is reinventing itself in real time. The pandemic, which kept people at home, also expanded the definition of TV and accelerated changes that were already in motion. Cross-platform TV, which includes traditional linear and all forms of streaming, is now part of the modern media lexicon and every brand’s media strategy.

Advertising success in this rapidly changing TV environment requires precision, flexibility and speed. And while those labels have historically been attached to digital advertising, they are increasingly attached to TV. But legacy TV measurement tools are not able to keep up with the pace of change, so the industry is looking for new solutions. In 2021, TV will be measured the way people watch it – across time, platforms and screens. 

Expediting the Revolution 

With people staying home, the TV landscape has undergone significant change. Broadcaster video-on-demand (BVOD) platforms such as 7Plus, 9Now, 10 Play, Kayo and Foxtel have seen massive growth, with viewing up almost 31 percent in the first half of 2020 vs. with the same period last year. Subscription streaming services are also booming, with almost 16 million Australian households having at least one subscription in May – around 6 percent more than three months earlier.

Viewing patterns are also changing, with increased daytime viewing due to homeworking, as well as a daily peak in BVOD consumption that comes later than traditional linear. With families at home together, viewing is often dispersed across multiple devices, with the average home having 6.7 devices on which video content can be consumed. 

To keep up with evolving viewing habits, advertisers that want to ensure their campaigns can reach increasingly fragmented audiences, are demanding a precise, simple, transparent approach to measuring TV advertising that works across all screens and platforms. 

A New TV Measurement Era 

TV measurement has evolved in three vital ways, which will continue to impact how advertisers close the loop on the customer journey and increase the efficacy and efficiency of TV advertising next year: 

1. Impression Delivery

In terms of pure ad delivery, advertisers are increasingly using actual occurrence and exposure data, collected at scale, to understand where their ads are served and to who. Those insights help them understand reach across all platforms, and provide valuable intel on reach extension and optimal frequency. This is especially important when finding the right TV mix to reach and engage with viewers beyond linear. 

2. Attribution and Outcomes

Brands are also demanding proof that their ad dollars are driving business metrics. Probabilistically, they are tying ad occurrence data to digital outcomes, like web transactions and physical outcomes like store traffic. Deterministically, they are tying household-level ad exposure to similar outcomes data. By layering in different data types, advertisers gain full transparency into how their TV campaigns are performing and quantify both immediate and longer-term impact.

3. Audiences

In addition to knowing an ad is delivered and that it drives an action, advertisers also have the ability to develop precise geographic, demographic and behavioural profiles of who is taking actions. This capability, labelled ‘identity resolution’, allows advertisers to identify which segments are the most productive and opens up a range of likely-to-convert audiences that were previously untargeted.    

This evolution of TV ad measurement is dramatically changing industry perceptions and expectations. Instead of being satisfied with a post-campaign reporting, advertisers want to see every characteristic of every impression in real-time. They want to measure reach and frequency and reach extension and tie it to performance. These insights feed into in-flight campaign optimisation tools across the broader definition of TV. 

While ad spend may be rebounding, advertisers are still trying to achieve more with less, so increasing the efficiency and effectiveness of campaigns remains a high priority. The time is right to welcome a new approach to TV ad measurement industry wide. The data is out there – with initiatives such as VOZ being a huge step forward – just waiting to be used by even more advertisers across the TV ecosystem in 2021 and beyond.

Bob Ivins is the chief strategy officer at TVSquared.

Photo by Mohammadreza alidoost on Unsplash.