The Missing Piece in the TV Measurement Puzzle

July 24, 2017 Ashley Deibert

It’s 2017—high-speed Internet fits in your pocket, self-driving cars are basically here, and drones will soon be delivering packages. But when it comes to TV, one of the oldest mass mediums known to man, advertisers still haven’t enjoyed the advances in data, measurement and insights that digital has, despite the fact that it still maintains a supremely high reach and captive audience.

Once digital hit the scene, TV measurement was simply left behind by an industry that assumed it would eventually be obsolete. But, even as digital continues to command more ad dollars, and TV becomes an “everywhere” medium, its ability to deliver information back to its investors (i.e. advertisers)—in both a timely and relevant manner—is crucial. A recent NY Times article hit the nail on the head when it said: “Ratings aside, television still reaches more people and provides a reliable way for an ad to be seen on a full screen with sound.”

Fortunately for the digital world, tracking metrics were built along with digital tactics from the ground up, so understanding a customer’s journey from beginning to end has always been the norm. But TV measurement methods simply haven’t been updated to offer advertisers the same speed, accessibility, accuracy and transparency they enjoy on digital. It’s not a lack of value, per se, it’s a lack of an ability to quantify said value.

Once digital hit the scene, TV measurement was simply left behind by an industry that assumed it would eventually be obsolete. 

But marketers are catching on, and are no longer standing for this lack of data. Budgets are precious. Customers are fickle. Competition is fierce. They know TV is still incredibly valuable and influential (and why it stills garners $70B a year in ad spend!). And they know there is still so much potential, but without context, the content will start to lose its meaning.

The GRP isn’t going anywhere, and we’re not saying it should. But rather, TV’s insights, should (and can) get more advanced around the actual audience behaviors, as a result of these investments. Because brands have a myriad of audience data at their disposal--from website visits to purchase events—integrating these data sets with TV viewing metrics is the key to activating TV measurement and proving success. Imagine tracking and measuring not just your paid campaigns, but also any earned mentions or appearances of your brand on TV in real-time, and actually linking those instances to outcomes.

The challenge however, is maintaining an accurate and linear strategy in tying specific purchase data correlates to the appropriate TV metrics. For example, if you’re trying to determine influence of purchase in specific, localized markets, but your viewership metrics are only at the national level, it becomes rather difficult to the link the two.

That’s where local measurement really comes into place. The ability to get these insights at the local level, in specified designated market areas (DMAs) will allow advertisers to tie local purchase data (or what’s happening after the ad is seen) to tangible, measurable ROI, both directly after the fact and over time. Adding in more layers, such as IP address, network type, and time of day, brands can really begin to attribute TV investments to audience outcomes.

Imagine tracking and measuring not just your paid campaigns, but also any earned mentions or appearances of your brand on TV in real-time, and actually linking those instances to outcomes. 

As an industry, TV is still missing a lot of pieces to put its measurement capabilities on the same playing field as digital. But as new measurement solutions emerge and these old measurement problems are eliminated, brands are discovering reliable new ways of understanding what their huge investments mean for the bottom line—and how those investments impact efforts on other channels. The data points they’ve had access to until now only told a fraction of the story, and that’s just not good enough. It is not good for advertisers and it is not good for media owners.

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