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Will One TV Data Metric Emerge to Rule Them All?

October 11th, 2017   ||    by Todd Wasserman   ||    No Comments

How’s my ad doing? It’s a simple question, but marketers can have a tough time answering it due to a lack of universal TV data.

Although marketers now accept that an omnichannel approach is best for reaching consumers with cohesive messages and a consistent brand experience, there currently isn’t a standardized set of data that would address this issue: Google, comScore, and Nielsen all employ different—and incompatible—content ID protocols.

That’s a major headache for marketers. Adding to it is the fact that viewers are consuming content differently, often watching programming on-demand. This can make standard viewing metrics like gross ratings points less useful as a gauge of the ad’s exposure.

Finding Gaps

Viewers spend about 5.5 hours a day consuming video content, according to eMarketer. The lion’s share of that viewing continues to occur via TV, but digital devices are increasingly another option, accounting for an hour and 16 minutes of that viewing in 2015.

Consumers often flit back and forth between TV and digital as a matter of convenience, starting a program on TV and finishing it on a mobile device. In such an environment, consumers are less interested in how they view content than in the content itself.

Marketers continue to face big differences in scoring advertising in each format, however, making it hard to gauge overall impact. The standard measurement for TV viewership is the number of viewers for an average minute of content.

In digital, such TV data is based on how many times a video has been viewed. For instance, a late-night show like Jimmy Kimmel Live might draw a certain number of viewers during its live telecast—then draw millions more when clips are shown on YouTube. It can be difficult to get an average number based on the two because the methodologies are so different.

Bridging Gaps

The issue of consistent metrics surfaced at the Advertising Research Foundation’s Audience Measurement 2017 conference in June 2017. At the event, Manu Singh, group vice president of commercial insights and digital at Discovery Communications, told the audience he believed the standards issue would be resolved soon, and that there would be a “standard currency that everyone is going to agree to,” according to a report in Marketing Dive. But the consensus was that a standard was unlikely to emerge this year, the report went on to say.

In lieu of a standard universal metric, marketers are using a patchwork of measurements, including C7, Nielsen’s rating for TV viewing, which takes a program’s live airing plus the following seven days into account, and “views,” which are the digital-video equivalent.

But work on a more standardized type of rating is gaining momentum. The entertainment industry has gotten behind the Entertainment Identification Registry (EIDR), which acts as sort of UPC for entertainment properties and protects movie and TV content. Ad-ID, which is backed by the Association of National Advertisers (ANA) and the American Association of Advertising Agencies (4As), does the same for advertising. To provide a useful metric in the omnichannel age, the code for binding Ad-ID and EIDR to content needs to be open and standardized as well.

Despite such efforts, the creation of a standard metric that lets advertisers compare video performance across TV and digital may still be years away. But if marketers put their full force behind the movement, it could very well happen sooner rather than later.

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