We Need New Standards In TV Ad Measurement

mikael"Data-Driven Thinking" is written by members of the media community and contains fresh ideas on the digital revolution in media.

Today’s column is written by Mikael Mathison, commercial product manager at Videoplaza, an Ooyala company. 

The video and TV landscape is in flux. With a plethora of video streaming devices and emerging streaming services, TV audience viewing habits are changing dramatically. In the face of fragmentation, premium publishers and broadcasters are taking action to monetize the shift, maintain and grow audiences and keep revenues up.

Audiences are fundamentally moving away from scheduled, linear TV to live and on-demand streaming services that better suit how they consume TV and video. As a consequence, linear TV viewing is declining, as confirmed by Nielsen. Over the past year, linear TV viewing in the US fell by nearly 20% among 18- to 24-year-olds. Overall, linear TV viewing decreased more than four hours per week. This decline is accelerating in all age groups except for the 65-and-over category.

Despite the shift from linear to online, ad spending is not following at the same pace. Traditional TV advertising continues to represent brands’ primary spending. This is partly due to a lack of tools for properly measuring the quality and impact of campaign on their intended audience. There are no standard methods for comparing the results delivered by linear and online TV, or even a way to measure results across devices.

Aligning Currencies

For decades, advertisers have bought traditional TV advertising based on GRP (gross rating point) panel data, which measures reach and frequency in an audience. It is a currency to which buyers are accustomed, and one that could translate across both linear and online audiences. Implementing a standard currency for online TV ad buying would help significantly in bringing advertising dollars online.

Both media buyers and publishers understand the need to find consistency between linear TV and online multiscreen measurement. Comscore and Nielsen already have solutions in place in the US, with their validated campaign essentials and online campaign ratings initiatives, respectively.

Several joint initiatives are also underway in Europe. In France, Médiametrie, the official TV measuring company, joined major publishers and TV channels to create online video GRP, a metric they hope to roll out this year to ad servers and media and programmatic.

In the UK, the Broadcasters' Audience Research Board plans to launch “Project Dovetail” in 2016. The hybrid measurement system uses GRP-like panel data and device-based data.

Elsewhere, MMS (Media Measurements Scandinavia) is cooperating with broadcasters, advertisers and agencies to implement online metrics for audience reach. The first versions, for all desktops, are planned for launch early this year.

A Flight To Quality

However, GRP only measures audience reach. The quality aspect also needs to be taken into account. How, for example, do you know someone actually saw the ad?

Ad viewability is a main concern for media buyers today. Some 55% of video ads surveyed over three months last year were deemed “unviewable” in a Vindico study (PDF). Given the nearly $3 billion a year spent on online video ads in the US, it’s fair to assume that American brands are spending almost $1 billion a year on marketing that few, if any, people ever see.

Europe shows similar patterns. About 50% of online ads are not viewed in Spain and Italy, according to comScore (PDF), while in France and the UK, 59% and 62% of ads, respectively, are considered nonviewed.

By adding viewability to the GRP metric, advertisers could track and follow audiences, measure the impact on the audience and monitor whether impressions are actually viewed.

The Premium Position

How could the adoption of online GRP and viewability metrics impact broadcasters and publishers? First, more money would to flow into premium online TV. Brands and agencies still want to be associated with premium content, and with a common measurement standard in place, liquidity would likely increase.

Second, with quality guarantees and more detailed audience data, premium publishers could better defend their share of the advertising pie, preventing ad money from going elsewhere. At the moment, YouTube and Facebook can demonstrate massive scale and they pose a big threat by attracting budgets away from premium publishers.

Third, with the adoption of a measurement standard, publishers and broadcasters would be better positioned to keep or even increase the value of their inventory. By delivering “viewed impressions” by audience, broadcasters could raise their CPMs, and thus increase their overall online revenue.

Beyond Basic Measurement

Online GRP and viewability reporting is only the beginning. The real advantage for publishers and media buyers arise when publishers can target, forecast, deliver and report on online GRP and viewability in real time. That would enable brands and agencies to fully buy and follow audiences across devices and to optimize on campaigns in real time.

The transition from viewing linear to online is already happening. For publishers and broadcasters to maintain the value of their premium video inventory, they need to get ahead of the curve.

They should adopt an industrywide measurement standard so that media buyers can measure results across TV viewing method and devices. They must also go beyond measurement to ensure audience buying across the full ad-serving process, including targeting, forecasting, delivering and reporting across all measured audiences.

Follow Videoplaza (@videoplaza) and AdExchanger (@adexchanger) on Twitter.


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