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What Does Ad Viewability Measurement Look Like in Local TV?

February 26th, 2019   ||    by John R. Osborn

In 2015, the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) took over the Open Video Viewability (OpenVV) initiative, originally founded by BrightRoll, Innovid, LiveRail, SpotXchange, and TubeMogul, to create an “open, common standard for video viewability measurement.” In 2018, the IAB issued new ad viewability measurement standards for digital video impression measurement. This new set of guidelines expanded to include over-the-top (OTT), connected TVs, mobile apps, and mobile web platforms/devices.

Viewability technology has now advanced to the point that even time spent viewing an ad can be measured. For TV buyers and sellers, now is the time to understand and prepare for the role of ad viewability. Yet another technology-driven arrival from the digital video world, ad viewability can be leveraged to provide better buys for local TV advertisers and greater revenue opportunities for sellers.

A Review: Current Digital Distribution Methods for Local TV

While broadcast programming and advertising is now delivered as digital signals, there are three newer pathways for local TV where consumer viewing can or will soon be measurable.

1) Via MVPDs (cable/satellite companies) through TV set top boxes (includes emerging screen level measurement on smart TVs).

2) Via (internet-)connected TVs (CTVs), including OTT (through apps on Roku, Sling TV, Xbox, etc.).

3) Via internet-delivered, direct-to-consumer online/mobile sites and apps.

Viewabililty and Addressability: Two Peas in a Pod

For all these methods, any ad viewability measurement for local TV stakeholders will go hand in hand with addressability, or the ability to deliver advertising to a specific target household. This double-teamed approach transforms local TV into a true digital video option by opening up new global opportunities for advertisers and content providers. The potential viewing universe moves beyond broadcast-defined designated market areas (DMAs), while allowing addressability down to the viewing screen.

Addressability and viewability measurement will be driven by voluntary technology standards and recommended practices called ATSC 3.0, created by the Advanced Television Systems Committee and advanced by the TIP (TV Interface Practices). ATSC 3.0 opens the door for Automated Content Recognition (ACR) where measurement and viewing identification (at the glass level) for each ad unit will be available on any smart TV—and 75 percent of the TVs in US households will be smart TVs by 2020.

How to Manage the Complexity of Viewability for 2019 and Beyond

Here’s what local TV sellers and buyers can do now to prepare for addressability and ad viewability.

Local TV and station group sellers:

  • Stay on top of updates and improvements through the IAB and Media Rating Council. These two organizations collaborate to establish standards and audit guidelines for ethical measurement.
  • Incorporate the latest VAST and VMAP technology standards. These are developed and updated by the IAB for serving in-stream video ads (VAST, or Video Ad Serving Template) or for allowing content owners to describe where video ad breaks should be placed (VMAP, or Video Multiple Ad Playlist). Advertisers require these technologies on ATSC 3.0-enabled T/V (Television/Video) platforms.
  • Sit down with current or potential supply side technology partners to explore and understand addressability and viewability requirements.

Local TV buyers:

  • Work closely with your in-house or outsourced demand side technology partners to understand and ensure VAST, VMAP, and other standards and practices are included.
  • Work closely with your local TV suppliers to find out their timeline for building addressability and viewability capabilities.

The Future

While T/V is still a few years from fully utilizing ATSC 3.0 and connected TV standards, the knowledge and steps outlined here will allow buyers and sellers to embrace the exciting future of T/V buying technology.

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