The Next TV Currency? It’s Already Here

(Image credit: Roku)

Our industry is in the hunt for a new currency to measure TV ads. The kicker? That better measurement and currency is already here.

It’s easy to think advertising measurement is a perfect science, a ruler with which we measure precisely and accurately every time. The truth is that advertising measurement is constantly evolving to follow consumers’ changing habits. That change has never been more apparent than today.  According to Nielsen, Q1 ’22 was the first time that weekly streaming TV reach eclipsed linear TV reach among 18–49-year-olds.

As a result, the advertising industry is putting more into measurement than ever before. Investors from celebrity angels like Edward Norton and Ryan Reynolds to private equity funds like Bain Capital are backing advertising measurement ventures.

This isn’t to say that measurement evolution hadn’t existed before. Digital platforms and publishers, born out of the internet boom of the early 2000s, built new performance measurement to help marketers to shift marketing budgets. 

These platforms and publishers-built measurement solutions on digital connections—allowing for second-by-second understanding of user choices, web clicks and ad views—all tied to consumer provided audience demographics.  Advertisers could transact on these evolved currencies—from demos to performance KPIs to viewability guarantees.

Unlike digital, linear TV, an analog viewing experience, could not understand consumer behavior without a panel.  TV ratings measure demographics of shows via a representative sample. That show data is a proxy to identify and buy ads reaching larger groups of target demos. 

Given this data is neither consumer provided nor real time, relying on shows as proxies when buying audience demographics frequently leads to impression waste. For example, a show on linear TV that skews 70% female inherently has 30% waste built in against a female targeted campaign.  

As TV networks evolve into streaming services, being able to target and measure more granularly against consumer provided data becomes increasingly important in order to better plan and measure audiences and consumer purchase behavior. 

Any platform without a direct consumer relationship will be limited in the data they collect and the measurement they can offer. These intermediaries face a challenging future. They rely on data consortiums, third party cookies, IP addresses, and mobile IDs that are set to go away. 

Brands that prioritize consumer-less measurement will struggle to understand what is happening with their consumer. Publishers who not only maximize their relationships with consumers but also invest in data sources like automatic content recognition (ACR) and identity resolution will create the future of cross platform currency.   

So, what can you do as an advertiser to better tap into these existing measurement and currency solutions?

  • Identify what key performance indicators are most important to you as a brand – whether its audience reach, brand building or performance based. And if you’re fortunate to have your own CRM data, build out those assets to directly support those transacting and measuring those KPIs.
  • Once you’ve narrowed in on your KPIs, partner with publishers that also have their own consumer provided data that can help plan, optimize and measure against those specific targets with more precision.
  • Lastly, once those campaigns are running and measured, develop performance benchmarks together with that partner which will help to dictate the best currency that’s right for you.

This is an exciting future for TV advertising – addressable, flexible, full-funnel, and measurable. And it’s already here, now.

Asaf Davidov

Asaf Davidov is Head of Ad Measurement and Research for Roku.