Measurement Is Still a ‘Blind Spot’ for Marketers Looking to Improve Ad Targeting

Discussion at Adweek’s Executive Lab series centered on data

(L. to r.) Ed Gaffney, GroupM North America; Kavita Vazirani, NBCU; Lauren Wiener, Tremor Video; and Raghu Kodige, Alphonso
Raquel Beauchamp

When it comes to accurate ad targeting, agencies and publishers say there is still room for improvement, even as the strict privacy regulations going into effect soon in Europe threaten to upend the way data is used and collected.

During a breakfast discussion on Wednesday in New York, Ed Gaffney, director of implementation research and marketplace analytics at GroupM North America, said targeting is the “absolute, most important thing” for the next five years.

The breakfast, which was part of Adweek’s Executive Lab series, was sponsored by Alphonso, a research firm that tracks TV audiences.

Gaffney said the agency is working on breaking down data silos to better look at impressions across platforms. However, what a company like Nielsen measures is often different than what others do.

“It’s a little bit frustrating,” he said. “It creates problems with in storylines, but we’re getting to the point where can measure on a holistic basis. People thought we were crazy, but no, digital needs to be measured, for better or for worse, on a demo basis. Digital needs viewablity standards for a reason.”

Measurement is still a “blind spot,” said Kavita Vazirani, evp of strategic insights and analytics, NBCUniversal. She said there needs to be a more universal metric that will help with media planning across TV and digital.

“I do think you cannot look at media exposure without looking at what the messaging is,” she said.

Lauren Wiener, CEO of Tremor Video, said one of the new ways companies are measuring the effectiveness of campaigns is by looking at “dwell time.” Working with data targeting partners, Tremor has been able to see how much time someone spends in a place rather than just walking nearby it. That’s the difference between going into a Subway and walking by one on a lunch break. She said Tremor works with several location-based ad-tech companies such as Placed and FourSquare to measure this for brands.

“One of the interesting things about retail, especially if you’re a QSR, is you’re not watching video in line since you’re not in line that long,” she said. “So what to do is be able to use dwell time to find them later and then use an attribution partner like a Placed to prove that later on you drove foot traffic.”

To improve ad targeting, some television companies have banded together to form their own audience-targeting platform. OpenAP—a collaboration between Fox, Viacom and Turner announced last year to help simplify ad tech for agencies buying across networks—will be a more prominent factor this year in Viacom’s upfront event. Bryson Gordon, evp of advanced advertising at Viacom, said it’s been a key selling point with advertisers in the U.S. and Canada.

Today, NBCUniversal announced it’s also joining the consortium. The move, which comes after a year of talks, could be a signal of eventual widespread industry adoption. However, it’s also onboarding its own in-house data capabilities.

“This is the first time where we’ve been able to embed that message into every conversation,” Gordon said of OpenAP during an on-stage conversation with Adweek on Wedneday. “And it changes things.”

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