It’s Time to Move Forward From the Current TV Measurement Culture Clash

“Measurement” and “currency” are some of the hottest terms in TV right now, as the tug-of-war battle between panels and automatic content recognition (ACR) continues to take center stage. But in the year ahead, it’s not about crowning a winner, it’s about leveraging them together.

Traditional measurement is failing advertisers

TV measurement has been in a state of change over the past several years. Nielsen panels have been the reigning champion of measurement since the early days of TV, bringing the scale of 10,000 to 40,000 households and setting the industry standard. But the digital TV revolution resulted in the fragmentation of delivery methods, and ACR data emerged as the leading contender to de-throne Nielsen.

The issue of transparency and ‘who is on the couch’ is one of the biggest challenges in the industry right now

The problem is ACR data is limiting. It only measures what is being watched on TV, not who is sitting on the couch watching. Knowing which household members saw a show or ad is a major hurdle for both advertisers and programmers. The industry mostly relies on probabilistic extrapolations. So, if there is an NFL game on and a 55-year-old male is in the house, it is probable that he is the one watching.

This is TV’s current culture clash in a nutshell. The only way to resolve it is to end the tug-of-war match and use the panel and person-based data to back up the household-level ACR data, which helps brands feel that they are hitting the right streaming consumers in the right places. This is why panels are so hot right now, and why alternative currency provider iSpot recently invested in panel-based measurement platform TVision.

New measurement methods must solve for transparency

The issue of transparency and “who is on the couch” is one of the biggest challenges in the industry right now. On traditional linear TV, buyers know exactly where their ads will run, right down to the position in the ad pod. On digital TV, however, buyers typically only get insight into what platform the ad ran on, but oftentimes not the channel, network or show.

Because panel data for CTV still has not fully matured, advertisers don’t know who in the household was on the couch when the spot aired. Therefore, savvy TV buyers are often in the dark about who is actually being reached and left to rely on a hodgepodge of third-party services and data to try to piece the puzzle together.

This is one of the big causes of widespread inefficiencies throughout the industry, from planning campaigns to inconsistent and inaccurate measurement standards, and lack of transparency in reporting. It also leads to advertisers not knowing how best to spend their ad budgets, how to evaluate their campaign’s performance and whether their campaigns achieved the desired results.

Efficiency optimizes campaign performance

Integrating panel and ACR data allows the TV industry to build efficiencies across various POVs. By leveraging panel-based data to understand who is watching within a household, that can be combined with ACR data to find the true price of inventory for a specific demo target.

With that problem solved, the industry can make good on a promise: truly making TV a performance channel. Similar to buying ads on Instagram, this provides advertisers with the ability to choose their goals—reach, awareness, website visits, app downloads, and even sell-through metrics—and then predict and optimize against those across platforms.

Improved measurement opens up new possibilities for local advertising

Madhive is evolving the conversation one step further to the “nationalization of local,” and helping customers predict and track their exposure metric goals to determine a baseline of saturation at the local level. This means advertisers can spend money in geographic areas until those outcomes are reached, then automatically shift spending to less-performing geo segments.

For example, a national auto dealer can activate hundreds of local campaigns simultaneously, while optimizing against website visits, in-store visits or even inventory. Once those are reached, the spend is shifted to other locations around the country to achieve the desired results. It truly is the “Waze of Programmatic.”

It all starts with overcoming the measurement challenge. Integrating panel and ACR data is vital to unlocking better opportunities at every level of the campaign process—planning, activation, measurement and attribution. Once the wider industry adopts this, advertisers will start seeing even better results.