You Can’t Measure the Media of the Future with the Technology of the Past

I was honored to be part of an executive roundtable on modern measurement hosted by the VAB. We covered a lot of ground during our hourlong discussion, including how TV is consumed, what’s missing from the marketer’s “dashboard”, the value of premium content and the large audience it attracts, the impact of a recession, cross-media measurement, the relative value of impressions, and more. Here are some key points that stood out.

The pace of innovation needs to accelerate.

The industry’s ability to measure media investment efficiently hasn’t placed our industry’s practices on a level playing field yet. Talk of GRPs and average frequency served us well in the past when we didn’t have the richness of data sets that we have today.

A move to audience-based impressions is a simple one. With that sort of specificity, marketers and their media partners will be able to define reach and frequency more accurately. We’ll know the incremental reach and how many households were actually reached once, twice, three times, etc. Further, we will be able to do something about it as we’ll know where the diminishing returns actually are, which will make the value of advertising worth that much more.

Decoupling the average reach and frequency associated with GRPs will enable advertisers to really understand the frequency distribution for a campaign relative to the total number of impressions.

Fragmentation is accelerating and it takes time for measurement to adapt to the changing landscape. Differences in methodologies and data sets make for a complicated ecosystem. But innovations are happening. Old rules are being challenged to make the industry better as it evolves. It’s important to incorporate advanced capabilities into measurement while making sure it’s being done accurately with solid methodology. Giving marketers a full-scope planning mechanism to evaluate the entire landscape effectively across the complicated ecosystem is an important step.

Not all impressions are equal.

Currently, equal weight is given to a completed view of an ad, a “five second delay” skippable ad, and an ad served while you’re quickly scrolling a social media feed. Messaging is a crucial component of advertising, and that can’t be delivered with a microsecond exposure. That puts the burden of the connection squarely on a split-second view of a logo — if one is even on screen during the nearly subliminal view. Short exposures can have a positive impact, but typically as a reinforcement of a previously seen ad.

It’s important to understand the relative value of impressions and their contribution to consumer behavior.

A simple step would be to add metadata to each ad exposure, which will allow marketers and sellers to quantify which impressions they would want to count relative to their own business objectives.

Until we can understand the impact of each impression, giving them equal footing devalues the planning process and gives little consideration to the value of the content delivering the impression. The premium content of television (whether linear, CTV, or streaming) delivers more quality impressions than the quickly bypassed ad interrupting your social feed, no matter how well tracked the digital consumer might be.

TV advertising technologies are improving.

It’s important to make attributable connections to show how TV and its premium content impacts other channels such as search, social, as well as other outcomes such as site visits and physical brick & mortar visits. That can be tied into the purchase funnel to demonstrate TV’s very efficient reach and the immediate scale it delivers. It shows that TV can be used and optimized to drive and understand the impact of business performance along all consumer touchpoints.

Being able to tie all of these things into a singular dashboard system is what all marketers would love to have, but the industry is not there yet. There’s a lot of piecemeal work that’s acting as the foundation to help us get there. Quality research is important, and there are a lot of new players that are making that happen.

TV ads deliver immediate scale.

It bears repeating again and again — TV’s premium content is a differentiator. Context matters.

Continued fragmentation exacerbates the problem of measuring effective reach. TV’s evolving addressability, targetability, and measurability will demonstrate the value of enabling and optimizing the impact of intelligent reach aggregation.

In fact, fragmentation is accelerating more than ever. “At scale” is becoming a far more elusive goal for advertisers to achieve in our digital-dependent lives, unless you have TV in the mix. Television’s audience is looking for a consumption choice for long form, lean-back content, not a quick-hit hunt that lends itself to constant changes amid countless sites. And according to research from Effectv, consumers indicate that TV ads “legitimize” a company’s brand. Television ads deliver something that online advertisers can sometimes struggle with — trust.

In the end, where the advertising industry has been lagging is in the ability to measure impact across all capabilities. I think it is just around the corner from achieving that. And that’s going to be a major driver for the use of premium TV and video as not only an efficient channel, but also a trusted, effective one.