The slow but steady digitization of TV advertising will place further pressure on ad measurement companies to create more robust cross-platform metrics and attribution models. But for that to happen, several types of companies—including multichannel video programming distributors (MVPDs) and TV networks—need to update their technologies and strategies.
TV ad buyers have long advocated for more precise metrics, but measurement firms have struggled to create innovative products that work within TV’s legacy infrastructure. While there is no single metric that perfectly captures how legacy technology stymies TV measurement from evolving, it is telling that most ads on linear TV have been sold and targeted the same way for decades. With TV advertisers still reliant on direct sales and proxy targeting, it isn’t surprising that traditional TV attribution models have become outdated.
However, TV advertising is evolving. We expect a 58.4% increase this year in US programmatic TV ad spend. We also expect TV ads to become more targeted. We forecast that addressable TV ad spending in the US will increase 23.3% in 2019 to $2.54 billion.
The growth of advanced TV tactics will require marketers to adapt how they handle TV attribution. We spoke with CIMM CEO Jane Clarke about TV attribution for our upcoming “US Digital Display Trends 2019” report.
How is TV attribution evolving?
You have to think about it from a couple points of view because attribution is a complicated topic depending on if you're looking at it from the marketer, media company or TV network publisher point of view.
How are TV networks evaluating attribution?
From the TV network point of view, even if the data are not perfect, it's better than not having data. And so they're spending a lot of time learning about the data.
There is a lot of learning that's gone on this past year. It will continue, but they're very quickly learning about which data sets work in which use cases. The MVPDs that were not making their data available are finally doing so because they realize that it tells a great story for the TV industry. Even if Comcast is reluctant to license their data to all the research providers or networks for content ratings, they're very happy to give the data, almost free in some cases, to these attribution companies because they have seen what a difference it makes in telling a brand-list type story for television.
Are TV marketers approaching attribution differently?
The marketers look at different kinds of marketing and pricing and competition and the environment and the weather. There are so many factors that go into their media mix modeling or multitouch attribution.
The marketers will get savvier about asking questions: "Are you creating the right control group? Do you have a nationally representative sample?" They're going to make it harder for the TV people to just imitate what digital did.
Will TV attribution continue to change over the next year?
A year from now, we'll be more sophisticated users of these products. And they won't be making the same mistakes. What happened in digital was everybody just did the data matching and thought they created a control group then showed unexposed, exposed, and if there was a sales list, they attributed all of it to Facebook, Google or their website without realizing that this was a lot more complicated from a marketer point of view.
How will marketers learn from their digital attribution efforts?
They're being a bit more responsible about it because everybody knows the problems. If you just go out and do exactly what Facebook and Google did and try to imply that any brand listed is due to advertising on your property, you lose credibility quickly. I do think that the marketers are getting a lot savvier about measurement.
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