Focus on data and learn from mistakes: Panelists on bridging the TV and digital divide

TV Data Deep Dive event at Advertising Week New York

The media industry must interrogate the quality of the data available on the market, plus learn from the errors made in the ‘desktop internet era’ if they are to truly realize the potential promised by the digitalization of TV. That was consensus among panelists at a panel event hosted by The Drum and Alphonso, to help mark Advertising Week New York.

TV ad spend has traditionally been at the top of the media value chain in terms of spend, but an eMarketer report into US media spending patterns shows that it was eclipsed by digital last year.

In 2017 digital ad spend in the US is set to hit $83bn this year, when the total amount spent on connected devices will eclipse that spent on TV by $10bn, according to the research house.

However, this is not to say US audiences are abandoning their TV screens, rather such devices play a substantial role in consumers’ connected devices, with mobile as a constant companion, and marketers are aware of this.

A 2016 poll of North America marketers, asking them about their priorities demonstrates this but clearly there is a deficit when it comes to solutions in the market (or at least a perceived one).

Panelists were led by Skylar Kim, Horizon, VP of digital investment and data strategy, in their recommendation that advertisers and data suppliers ensure the quality of the data at their disposal is up to standard. The agency executive observed that for brands to synchronize their messaging across screens (ergo not bombard users with the same messaging) quality data sources are a must.

Taking questions from the audience, Kim later went on to recount how media owners can sometimes come up short when it comes to being assured as to the quality of their audience insights.

Bhanu Bhardwaj, senior vice president and principal, Media Center of Excellence of analytics outfit IRI Worldwide, said such an approach is necessary to truly understand the commercial impact of media exposure, and then attribute TV spend to sales, both online and offline – which is technically the marketing utopia.

“What I would advise advertisers to do is look under the bonnet, and make sure they really understand the data.”

Meanwhile, Mark Gall, Alphonso, chief revenue officer, , added: “If you have scale [or work with a data provider that has real scale], then you don’t have to piece all the pieces together.”

Walt Horsman, TiVo, SVP, general manager of analytics and advertising, echoed this sentiment, adding that advertisers, as well as media owners need to interrogate their sources of data, and better understand what the flow of it is.

“You need to make sure how you have access to it, understands how it is modeled, as I think that there’s a lot of confusion in the data ecosystem right now, around that,” he added.

Alphonso’s Gall, went on to explain some of the benefits to getting a healthy, and accurate, data flow in place: “I think in media we’ve always had a hypothesis-led approach… and then do some sort of attribution work to determine whether it worked or not.”

However, better audience targeting can save advertiser from tacking such a retrofitted approach. Instead they can better generate insights at the beginning of a brand campaign if they have insights correctly in place.

With the traditional TV sector set to more closely resemble the internet ecosystem, attendees asked about concerns any of the panelists may have given the issues commonly associated with programmatic trading on desktop, such as fraud, etc.

Here TiVo’s Horman offered his assessment: “I’m concerned that we follow this sub-optimization from the walled gardens.”

The prospect of walled gardens emerging in the TV sector (the most prominent in the industry are Facebook and Google, who collectively control 63% of all US ad dollars spent online) pose the biggest barrier to cross-screen measurement, according to the panelists.

“If you really want to get attribution right, you have to start looking to address that,” added Bhardwaj.

Following the event, the panelists decided to give The Drum their key takeaways. See what they had to say below.

Ronan Shields

I'm the digital editor at The Drum, and cover adtech and martech. Prefer news and analysis, over opinion pieces. Current fascination(s) are blockchain and media futures trading; also curious about transhumanism on a personal basis. NYC-based, but really London Irish.

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