TV Advertising Is Challenging, But Measurement Offers A Lifeline

"On TV And Video" is a column exploring opportunities and challenges in advanced TV and video.

Today’s column is written by Laura Joukovski, senior vice president of media and analytics at TechStyle Fashion Group.

Many claim TV advertising is dead, or at least dying. As digital alternatives emerge for advertisers and content consumption patterns shift from TV toward digital and on-demand services, advertisers may be reluctant to enter TV advertising or question the efficacy of TV investments.

But TV can be a very healthy and meaningful part of the media mix for modern advertisers. That includes marketers who are relentlessly and unapologetically in search of direct-response signals and ROI. The key is to embrace the test-and-learn strategies that are so widely implemented in digital advertising.

When Measurement Strategy Aligns With Business Results

Whether marketers want to drive website traffic, app installs or ecommerce transactions, they should try to surface connections between TV spot airings and outcomes.

From a bottom-up perspective, many third parties and most TV agencies today can provide analysis of the lift from the normal curve of non-TV traffic that can be attributed to specific TV spots. Separately, but simultaneously, marketers can test different levels of TV advertising spend and use top-down modeling to determine how much the TV media channel as a whole contributes to the outcomes that matter most.

By analyzing bottom-up, marketers can optimize across creatives, networks and dayparts. By analyzing top-down, they can answer the question of how much they should invest in TV.

For decades now, many TV advertisers have focused on outcomes such as brand tracker surveys. It is helpful to know how people are feeling and thinking about a brand, but this is a nice-to-have and not the key performance indicator that matters most.

The business results are the bottom line. Marketers must find the highest-volume response signal that captures purchase intent and watch how TV spot airings move it. Doing the work to capture these signals and connecting the dots between TV investments and business outcomes with both bottom-up and top-down measurement strategies has a big payback.

Creative Efficacy  

We’ve heard it before: Creatives matter. Sometimes marketers tell stories about their brands and let the merchandise or service be the hero. But regardless of the creative direction, it’s important to always close with a compelling offer and invitation to visit the website, download an app or whatever action marketers wish to drive.

The TV spot is just a jumping-off point for a customer journey that continues on the web or in the app store. If ROI is the end goal, marketers must make the call to action a consistent priority in the creative. Through a steadfast commitment to creatives that encourage people to take steps that illicit response signals marketers wish to measure, they set themselves up to have meaningful creative performance measurement.

From a bottom-up analysis point of view, marketers can see which spots drive response. Though immediate response at the time of the airing is not the whole picture, it gives a strong indication of the relative strength of different creatives. It is important to normalize across networks and dayparts for apple-to-apples comparisons – then optimize to add weight to the creatives that outperform.

When marketers combine this bottom-up analysis with meaningful top-down modeling that surfaces the relationship between the TV channel overall and business results over time, they can further understand creative impact holistically.

Marketers win when creatives drive strong response today and build brands over time. By taking creative performance measurement seriously, marketers can test and learn how to iterate toward creative wins.

Optimizing On The Move

Marketers who are serious about ROI must work hard to discover – and then rediscover over and over – a healthy balance to pay the right price to reach the right people at the right time. This is as true in TV advertising as in any digital channel. The same principles for creative testing apply to the testing of winning media buys.

While marketers start with an understanding of their audience and media consumption patterns to find a good fit with brands, it does not stop there. It is not enough for marketers to simply say that they’ve put impressions in front of a target audience. That’s just the beginning.

Marketers create hypotheses about what media they should buy based on demographic research – and then they track the results. They watch for the immediate response signals to see which networks and dayparts drive immediate flow. They then monitor the top-down results closely to ensure that their investments are driving the business over time. Adjusting media buys over time to maximize ROI is critical.

Marketers can’t move as quickly on TV as they can in digital from a test-and-learn point of view, and user-level analysis is not yet fully possible on linear TV. But convergence with digital video is on the horizon. While we cannot know with precision which individuals were exposed to which television ads across a fully representative sample today, TV is still measureable.

Even as we shift from linear TV to digital and on-demand, TV will continue to be a channel where marketers can meet the audiences for their brands cost-efficiently. So, we persist in our pursuit of TV advertising – even as we constantly test all digital alternatives.

Follow TechStyle Fashion Group (@TechStyle) and AdExchanger (@adexchanger) on Twitter.

1 Comment

  1. Timely and interesting article. There's a definite convergence happening between TV and digital advertising happening as we speak. Content-recognition enabled Smart TVs are being adopted at a massive rate. Adding these to the digital device ecosystem (and being able to map devices to households and each other in a privacy-sensitive manner) is very arguably the future of TV (even marketing) measurement, as TV joins said ecosystem. Brands are now able to discover who's viewing TV ads or content, and how they are subsequently behaving (i.e. finding how the TV ads are having an impact). It's a lifeline for TV advertising, keeping it measurable and relevant as a platform for cross-device campaigns. TV still has a major amount to offer as a branding medium, but now it can be combined with digital to complete the upper and lower funnel connection in a way that can yield unprecedented efficacy. TV has always been the major catalyst for consumer persuasion. It's actually about to grow even more potent. The data TV is now producing is going to make the difference.

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