One of the most vexing issues in media today is measurement. In particular, TV measurement of long-tail and niche networks has been a source of frustration for years. And with the proliferation of platforms and devices, finding an industry-standard form of cross-platform measurement has become a paramount effort.
What metrics best represent viewer behavior and consumption patterns? How can the industry most effectively use segmentation to augment (or even replace) the standard age-gender proxies for buyers and sellers of content? Should we standardize to ratings, reach, and frequency or delivery in order to tie together cross-platform usage? All these questions remain as relevant as they are challenging.
According to AdExchanger, measurement in the programmatic marketplace might be the key to success, as well as a formidable opponent to linear television legacy measurement systems. As they state, “From a television purist’s perspective, TV doesn’t need programmatic solutions. It’s just a myth that will create sales channel conflict and cheapen the value of what is an extremely limited source of inventory. Old media companies have TV sales teams who are doing quite well selling ads the old-fashioned way. They are resistant to introducing data-driven advertising beyond basic demographic information based on Nielsen ratings, with a possibility of a secondary guarantee.”
Legacy TV Measurement
While this might be true, the answer is nevertheless more complex. Legacy TV measurement via Nielsen is the official currency, baked into long-range financial plans and easily digested into current legacy software, systems, and sales deal generators with standardized metrics that are generally accepted by every network, agency, and advertiser. And, the TV industry is slow to change.
It took 60 years and the introduction of advanced technology for Rentrak to enter the market as a potential competitor to Nielsen. Further, there are still challenges to the complete rollout of set-top-box (STB) data for TV measurement today. Silos of walled-garden data sets, stubborn analogue homes without boxes, and OTT make the collection of STB data an expensive game of whack-a-mole.
Programmatic TV Measurement
What programmatic TV (PTV) can offer above and beyond the currently available legacy measurement systems, is a finely devised method of hypertargeting to reach consumer segments that are primed to be receptive to advertising messages at the household level, and to the ability to do this in a privacy-compliant manner. This is something that a legacy proxy target of women age 18 to 49, for example, cannot provide.
While attribution and ROI measurement are still being tweaked in the programmatic world, once those issues are solved and standardized (and the media world reaches a tipping point of cross-platform digital, with the fuller adoption of smart TVs), we may see a shift in measurement philosophy and adoption.
What programmatic can offer to TV measurement today, however, is a wealth of data collected both before and after a campaign. While programmatic TV reportage is not essentially real-time yet, AdExchanger notes, “Data and recent innovations can inform marketers in record time about the best buy and most efficient line items within TV buys. While programmatic TV may have been a myth, it’s now becoming a necessary reality driven by accountability from every brand that is facing competition, locally, globally and from unparalleled innovation.”