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The evolution of co-viewing measurement in 2021 and beyond

The pandemic has brought with it changes in TV habits

Improvements to identity resolution can improve access to granular viewership data and ultimately drive return on investment, writes Experian Marketing Services’ Aimee Irwin as part of The Drum’s Data Deep Dive.

TV remains a fixture among media consumption channels, but connected TV (CTV) and new streaming devices are redefining how global consumers are spending their time, and as a result forcing marketers to adapt their TV campaigns to address the many ways that video is consumed. With people jumping from streaming service to streaming service and device to device, marketers are evolving campaigns to account for digital channels, connected devices and linear TV, all at the same time.

While marketers have successfully adjusted their campaign strategies to reach consumers across the various video consumption channels, device-sharing has made the measurement of these campaigns a little more complex; now, marketers would like the industry to solve for device fragmentation as well as the increase in co-viewing behavior – both of which pose major challenges to measuring TV effectiveness.

Fortunately, co-viewing measurement has undergone major improvements of late, from being able to assess which person in a household is viewing what content, to incorporating metrics from SmartTV apps such as YouTube TV for the first time. These changes signal an opportunity for marketers, brands and retailers to take advantage of the metrics at hand as they look toward truly removing the TV advertising silos within their omnichannel campaigns.

The current state of co-viewing and measurement

New circumstances created by the Covid-19 pandemic and lockdown orders have given digital marketers additional opportunities to drive engagement and increase revenue. With children home from school and professionals working remotely, family members have spent more time together, watched the same shows and shared experiences. As a result, co-viewing has seen more frequently across not only TV, but also computers, tablets, phones and more.

However, the pandemic not only accelerated how audiences consume media, but also increased consumers’ willingness to interact and make purchases digitally. Marketers and retailers now have the chance to increase their return on investment by bringing in cross-channel device messaging.

With TV becoming increasingly addressable, a massive shift in the way that measurement is coming to the marketplace has made it easier for the medium to not only meet but often surpass digital marketers’ needs.

Improvements in the identification of personal device usage within households, linkage of audiences across disparate media sellers and the connection of those devices to more nuanced demographics and transactional data allow companies to not only count the number of households who are watching TV, but the exact number of people within the household who are tuning in. Broadcasters are also taking steps to make alternative measurement options available to support planning, transacting and measuring national media campaigns.

Breaking down identity resolution

Perhaps the biggest driver behind the improvement in co-viewing measurement and CTV has been digital identity, allowing marketers to carry out retargeting, frequency capping and sequential messaging on not only an individual level, but also across shared devices. It’s imperative that identity resolution is leveraged in an equal way to help drive messaging and engagement, since consumers are no longer only consuming content in one place or through a singular channel.

Traditionally, strategies have focused on reaching single users, but with a variety of consumers using the same device and co-viewing, marketers must make sure they’re identifying individuals within a household for both current and future retargeting. Identity resolution plays a key role in bringing these opportunities to the forefront by pinpointing how to qualify users at a household level and then narrowing in on an individual level.

With the age of cord cutting and multi-screen viewership pressing forward, understanding how media is consumed, and more specifically by whom, is necessary for marketers and brands to succeed. The digital advertising industry is at a pivotal point where traditional media currencies can no longer keep up with the shift in fragmentation of video viewership. Newer measurement tools that mirror the evolving streaming environment can provide marketers an opportunity to better measure the effectiveness of their TV ad dollars and optimize future buys.

Aimee Irwin is senior vice-president of strategy and partnerships at Experian Marketing Services.

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