Better late than never, linear TV arrives in cross-platform measurement

Media Measurement

By Stephanie Gall (US), Senior Product Manager, TV Measurement 

While streaming is on the rise, linear TV viewership is slightly declining. In fact, The IAB reports “CTV viewing will represent 36% of total video time spent in 2022.” Despite the increase in CTV viewership, linear TV is still a powerful player attracting an estimated 68+ billion ad dollars in 2022 and offering the highest reach opportunities in live events and buzzy new programs. Linear TV provides a collective richness of content that is constantly being generated by the major programmers (NBCU, Paramount, Warner Bros. Discovery, Disney etc.) who are still bundling and pushing advertisers to invest in their ad inventory, across linear and streaming platforms. 

For linear TV to maintain a share of ad dollars, advertisers need to see improvements in measurement speed, scale, and accuracy. While linear TV measurement may be “late to the party,” it is still essential for holistic cross-platform measurement. That’s why we’ve chosen to invest in linear TV as a primary channel of our attitudinal measurement product, Impact Measurement. 

Effective TV measurement requires speed and scale

There is an industry perception that TV is “set it and forget it,” where marketers can only see advanced measurement results weeks after a campaign ends. But ACR technology has enabled the capture of TV viewership data and ad exposures much closer to real-time. With an array of partner options like Samba TV, iSpot TV, VideoAmp – or buying directly from a TV manufacturer like Vizio or LG – brands and marketers can now gain access to viewership data with relative ease. 

Marketers should be able to see some aspects of campaign performance and consumer perceptions while a campaign is still in-flight and allow for opportunities to optimize mid-campaign. With in-flight linear TV insights, marketers are able to adjust tactics like ad creatives and content to shift inventory to higher-performing placements or reach extension opportunities, instead of waiting for the next planning cycle.

We are taking an agnostic approach to partner with linear TV data providers like Samba TV and iSpot TV in order to bring scale and speed to cross-platform brand lift measurement.

The need to attribute an exposure accurately 

Another prevalent challenge is attributing a linear TV exposure to an individual person when using ACR, STB, or any device-level data. 

Certainly, this has been one of the strongest selling points for panel data – but what if you are looking for the speed and scale of ACR data delivery and person-level metrics? Many TV data providers vying for currency “status” are using various combinations of people-based panels and statistical inference for scaled personification of device data. We’ve taken the device-level linear TV ad exposure data and combined that with our survey-based approach, which yields a unique and powerful result.   

The survey-based approach qualifies all respondents entering measurement surveys by asking a series of “profiler” questions to understand each respondent’s general individual media and brand consumption habits. The answers help us to assign propensity scores to each respondent so we can group them for cleaner lift measurement. While this approach is still being tested to account for all measurement use cases, we’ve found it to be very effective when measuring attitudes and opinions. 

Matching exposures with “universal” identifiers  

For accurate linear TV and cross-platform measurement, identifying an individual’s exposure is just one piece of the puzzle. There is also the messy business of matching exposures to that person across all of their devices from disparate data sets, without duplication. And while many new identifiers are labeled as “universal”, there are so many identifiers that it is unlikely that marketers will ever be able to rely on just one. 

An accurate device graph is needed to tie together all devices to an individual, in combination with an identity graph that brings together different individual identifiers across data sets. Only then can you tackle deduplication, and ensure you are not measuring the same person multiple times.

Another aspect of identity resolution for accurate measurement is recognizing household-level clusters, devices, and individuals that are tied to the same home. This is important to understand especially when measuring TV as there are likely to be multiple individuals in a home consuming content on the same TV device.  

We continue to work through these industry-wide challenges with a commitment to exploring and integrating universal ID frameworks and the clustering of devices and disparate IDs to create accurate graphs linking exposures to a unique respondent.  

The future of linear TV measurement 

Linear TV is still an integral part of media planning for many marketers. But to maintain and justify that share of spend, the linear TV measurement ecosystem must embrace the importance of speed, scale, and accuracy – the same way digital has. 

The combination of real TV ad exposure data from TV data partners like Samba TV and iSpot TV brings scale and speed to our brand lift measurement offering. When combined with a survey-based approach and our identity resolution process, we can confidently report trustworthy brand lift results for key brand KPIs. 

As the industry continues to raise the bar for measurement solutions, our mission is to deliver precise, actionable data across TV and digital platforms that marketers can trust.