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Why flexible measurement is what TV needs to sustain – and boost – its recent growth
November 9, 2021
TV is a prime example of how hyper-charged evolution doesn’t necessarily change everything. Huge viewing spikes have driven significantly enhanced reach, as well as winning the interest of advertisers keen to harness the fast-expanding possibilities of connected TV (CTV). But this growth has also amplified one of its biggest long-running issues: fragmentation.
While audiences have increased overall consumption — spending 2,000 hours watching TV and video content last year — their diet has been highly varied. In addition to gains for traditional broadcast, 2020 also saw streaming subscriptions soar by 50% and video on-demand take-up extended to three in every five UK homes. In total, it’s estimated there are now over 40 million CTV viewers nationwide tuning in via multiple channels, platforms, and devices.
Such a blend of opportunity and chaos sparks mixed feelings. Along with eagerness to harness wide exposure and engagement, there is concern about the potential for advertisers to run campaigns they can’t effectively track. Fortunately, recent months have also brought leaps forward in versatile, holistic measurement that could help make TV more traceable.
The lingering measurement problem
Fragmentation is among TV’s longest-running challenges. As the space has evolved, numerous platforms have arisen to run the show, with viewers making personal primetime selections from endless content. In a bid to cut confusion and pave the way for further growth, much of the innovation focus so far has been fixed on providing consolidated access to multi-media inventory. See, for instance, moves to enable addressable targeting across linear and digital screens.
Without accurate and comprehensive measurement, however, it remains difficult for marketers to achieve the full view of performance so that they can quantify effectiveness and optimize impact. Despite increasingly smart targeting abilities, studies show half still feel they are not reaching the right audiences, 41% name lack of understanding as a key adoption barrier and, crucially, just as many see data accuracy and poor quality as top challenges for TV campaigns.
Aside from chaotic viewing behaviour, many of these issues are down to siloes, tools, players, and insights. Well known divisions include understandable media owner reluctance to share precious data assets, which makes it hard for advertisers to obtain comprehensive oversight of audiences and ads. But problems driven by platform-specific measurement are also worth noting. It’s still common for platforms to run independent assessment of the campaigns they deliver, meaning marketers receive measurement data in isolated batches.
Obviously, changes are needed to enable greater expansion and advertising efficiency. But the best route doesn’t necessarily lie with trying to control fragmentation. Instead, the aim should be adapting to the dis-jointed TV landscape by improving connection and interoperability.
Embracing border-crossing tools
One answer is to apply the same measurement mechanisms across channels. Simple as this sounds, using holistic tools would resolve current issues with operating over multiple and often conflicting frameworks. Although the tendency for platforms to mark their own homework has been a sticking point, tools are emerging that can be integrated with multiple media partners, giving marketers the capacity to use cohesive analysis across the board.
This brings an array of benefits. With streamlined assessment, marketers can evaluate performance against persistent metrics and produce consistent data, providing the solid basis needed for understanding overall success and like-for-like comparisons. Moreover, taking advantage of varied media engagement can enable them to more accurately pinpoint impact by measuring the influence of TV on broader activities and environments, particularly mobile.
By now, the interplay between TV and other connected devices is a firm fixture of modern media consumption; in fact, 68% of UK adults are splitting their attention with at least one other screen while watching TV. Harnessing the constant accessibility of mobile can therefore help marketers implement measurement that monitors performance in line with outcome based KPIs, not just views: tracking TV ads on their ability to fuel the goal actions on mobile.
What does this method look like?
While development is in progress, leading platforms are leveraging a mix of real-time analytics and surveys — with a new mobile twist. Traditionally, TV panel studies were sent out to limited sample audiences and data arrived weeks or months after campaigns; now new tools launch in-flight surveys that reach mobile users instantly and collect near real-time first-party data.
Functioning on a non-incentivized basis, surveys gather valuable information from receptive, opted-in respondents, using narrowly refined scoring questions to uncover exactly how target demographics feel about brands or products after seeing ads, and establish their likelihood of future engagement, recommendation and buying. In other words, they allow audiences to tell marketers whether they have hit their awareness, affinity, and purchase intent objectives.
The surveys also offer flexibility. Easily deployed to gauge opinion across different ad types, including CTV, linear, display, audio, and out-of-home, the smartest can work in tandem with artificially intelligent (AI) analysis. In practice, TV use would involve setting AI to identify which ads are yielding desired outcomes — using log-level data and insights from tracking pixels — and simultaneously plug in survey data. The results buildan all-inclusive picture of brand uplift at the device, individual and household level, in addition to highlighting where changes could be made to optimize results, both immediately and for future campaigns.
To date, early adopters have chiefly been agencies looking to maximize transparency and client satisfaction. Indeed, Origin Media has already found that the ability to trace ad effectiveness during live campaigns is delivering rich returns, not only quickly demonstrating the value of its native CTV solutions, but also driving more informed decisions on how swift content editing can be used to align ads with what audiences are seeing to improve resonance. As proof points and recognition grow, it won’t be long until brands start striving to fuel similar rewards.
Sophisticated data-powered targeting might have attracted advertising spend to the TV arena, but unified real-time tracking will be what ensures the best returns. Before they can make the most of swelling audiences and hyper-precise delivery, marketers must accept the unavoidable fact of fragmentation and find ways to mould measurement around it. Embracing deceptively simple tools such as interoperable and flexible measurement will make a big difference to crossing that hurdle, allowing them to sustain and accelerate TV growth.
By Neil Holmes, Head of UK Sales, LoopMe