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Finding a cross-channel currency for CTV: ‘it won’t be perfect, but it will be fast'

By Michael Nutley |

Finecast

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April 26, 2022 | 7 min read

Connected TV (CTV) offers marketers the best of both worlds; it has the direct targeting of online, as well as the reach and high ad completion rates that come with TV – which is great, but which way do you measure it?

This was the question discussed by the four women on the panel for The Drum’s Digital Transformation Festival 2022 session, Inside the Race to Create a Better Cross-Channel Currency for CTV, in association with addressable TV company, Finecast UK. Everyone taking part agreed that the CTV ecosystem – especially measurement – is a work in progress and the solution isn’t yet apparent. But the components and the process are starting to emerge.

Blurred car lines

Advertisers need to balance the need for short- and long-term metrics.

As Tess O’Brien, vice-president, demand software sales at video ad platform provider FreeWheel, puts it: “It’s very clear that ad delivery has evolved far quicker than our ability to measure it. We need to work together to drive innovation across the ecosystem, so this is really a conversation about innovation, partnership and collaboration across everyone, buy and sell side, and all tech providers.”

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The CTV measurement challenge

Moderator Kendra Clark, senior US reporter at The Drum, set out in her introduction how the boom in video streaming is creating huge new opportunities for advertising, but the proliferation of platforms and devices has meant the ecosystem has become utterly fragmented.

“As a result, it’s all but impossible for marketers to gain an accurate, reliable picture of how their streaming advertising is performing,” she says. “Can we achieve better ad targeting and ad measurement within the streaming ecosystem, let alone across the totality of digital channels?”

The panel suggests a number of avenues that need to be explored on the way to finding an over-arching CTV measurement solution:

Aligning ad measurement with business objectives

Sam Lister, senior director of data solutions at Finecast UK, argues that advertisers need to balance the need for short- and long-term metrics.

“We’re talking about digital transformation here, and we’re going to see ad delivery to more defined, more addressable audiences,” she says. “Traditional TV measurement is about reach, and connected TV measurement is going to become more and more about understanding how that reach translates into business outcomes.”

Understanding the needs of marketers from different backgrounds

Laura Chaibi, director ad marketing & insights, international at streaming TV platform Roku, emphasizes that any new medium will present challenges to marketers. As a result, she says, it’s vital the CTV industry brings these people along on the journey.

“We have to meet people where they are. Are they used to buying viewers, which means they’re a TV buyer and they want to buy in a certain way? Do they want to buy users, which means they’re probably more performance-oriented? We need to make sure we meet the needs of those particular marketers in what they’re trying to achieve. How do we help them reach engaged real streamers?”

Accepting the challenge of the long tail

Another point Chaibi raises is that one of the beauties of CTV is that it gives people access to millions of hours of video beyond the blockbusters. But this also adds to the measurement challenge, because the audiences for individual items of this content are too small to appear on traditional TV ratings.

“In the UK market, sources like BARB or Nielsen are helping you with headline measurement for anything over 7% reach. But what do we do with all of those other touchpoints where we know about a quarter of a million people might be watching something, but they don’t register in the television measurement systems?”

Thinking holistically

Tania Yuki, chief marketing officer at ComScore addresses this point. She talks about the importance of considering measurement across the consumers’ entire media experience.

"Start with empathy for the consumers’ experience. Think through what that consumer’s experience is, and embrace measurement that helps you understand how to be there with a consumer in the most meaningful way,” she said. “It’s really about looking at the ecosystem, and ad measurement holistically so that as a consumer, I can have a seamless experience as I go about watching the content that I love.”

This was backed up by FreeWheel’s O’Brien, who notes: “one thing that is becoming really clear is that advertisers are looking for cross-platform solutions as well. So it’s not just about CTV, it’s about how CTV fits into a broader overall buy. That’s what we need to be encouraging.”

“Also, having multiple measurement options is probably the right path, at least in the near term. Our goal is to remain open and interoperable. It should really be up to the advertisers, the brands and the marketers to determine what currency they want to work off that’s going to meet their overall campaign goals and objectives.”

Yes to everything

Everyone on the panel agrees that the industry is some way away from developing a measurement currency for CTV in a holistic framework. They also agree that the future is going to be about bringing multiple approaches together, testing them, and seeing what works.

ComScore’s Yuki sums it up: “There’s always this perceived conflict between census-based measurement and panels, and new measurement technology. What’s exciting right now is that the future is yes to all of them. It’s about embracing new technologies and approaches, and bringing anything from the past that has served us, while not being trapped by the past. And it’s understanding that while it’s not going to be perfect, it’s going to be fast, it’s going to be actionable, and it’s going to help get the job done.”

Watch the full panel session: Inside the Race to Create a Better Cross-Channel Currency for CTV here.

Digital Transformation Brand Strategy Agency Culture

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