April 15, 2017

By Brian Katz, VP of advanced TV insights and strategy at Eyeview

It is non-debatable that the last five years in the media industry has seen more creative enlightenment and tech innovation than the last fifty years combined. At the TCA Summer tour this past August, FX president John Landgraf estimated as many as 500 scripted original programs will air on television in 2017 — up from 417 in 2015, just two years ago. This is in large part due to the rise of SVOD competition such as Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon who alone are estimated to air over 130 scripted originals this year. There has also been talk of Apple entering the content game as well.

With literally hundreds of shows to choose from on a variety of channels, are we at all surprised that there's a disconnect between tech, the ad industry, and viewership measurement? Here are a few examples to point to:

Content carnivores abound

While the content-consuming masses are certainly grateful for the swaths of original content, how are we supposed to keep up? Technology is evolving at a record pace and the consumer has access to this content across more screens and platforms than ever before. The viewer is now in control and the industry's challenge is to keep up with them and anticipate their next move in parallel with the next tech platform. But there's a problem...

Measurement can't keep up

Unfortunately, measurement hasn't substantially upped its game with this consumer behavior or with the rapid advancement of tech. Rightfully so, TV execs have pushed Nielsen to stay ahead of this shift and have been disappointed about progress, most recently with Total Content Ratings (TCR) which has 'hopes' to measure the consumer across more screens, including SVOD. This launch has been delayed due to clients' lack of confidence that Nielsen has got this right.

Keep in mind, all this commotion is about content ratings — it has nothing to do with measuring ads in this content. This is perplexing, but Nielsen isn't the only game in town any longer.

Many of us will agree that there is not just one currency play in the marketplace anymore, especially as it relates to the transactional part of the business. The rise in technology has given us access to robust marketing campaign measurement solutions that go beyond spots and dots and usage metrics to audience behavior and return on ad spend (ROAS). Using set-top-box and connected TV return path data matched to behavioral and purchase datasets, we are now able to make the definitive connection between ad exposure and impact.

It is fair to say we are seeing grand innovation in this space, and although there is no perfect solution, we've made progress as an industry to push the market towards a more targeted and accountable solution. Targeting the right audience works and there is plenty of good research out there that demonstrates this.

The walls must come tumbling down…

Although many media orgs and agencies have made great progress building advanced data solutions cobbled together with data partners such as Nielsen, ComScore, TiVo and others, there remains an industry desire to unify these approaches. Both networks and agencies have their own proprietary methodologies on how to best target and optimize ad campaigns for results but there is still a bit of a 'black-box' approach.

These varied approaches make it very difficult to buy media on a national level across television. On top of this is the walled gardens of social and digital players, such as Google, Facebook, and YouTube, who are not yet (fully) playing nice and allowing their data to be integrated into the media buying ecosystem. How nice would it be to understand the impact of these media alone and together with the ability to optimize across them for optimal impact?

You Talking to Me?

There's exaggerated skepticism around measurement and the idea is that advertising is at risk and is no longer effective — "nobody watches ads anymore," right? Wrong!

CBS and others have data that shows the contrary, which makes perfect sense — consumers are fast-forwarding less as they are consumed with their mobile devices and let the ads play. According to David Poltrack, "They are not craving a world without advertising. [Audiences don't like] ads that aren't relevant to them. But they enjoy ads that are relevant to them." Research conducted by Ipsos has shown that 75% of an ad's ability to leave brand-linked memories is due to creative.

While using data to move beyond demographics to consumption behavior and targeting the right consumer has certainly catapulted success in media planning, the other half of the equation lies in the creative itself. Consumers want to receive ads that are relevant to them - in the right content, on the right screen, and at the right time. It's not-so-simply up to advertisers to find out on how to deliver.

Although measurement can't keep up right now, there's still a general sense that we're on the right path. Consolidation of measurement methodologies and partnering with big tech players like Facebook and Google makes perfect sense, but it's not a catch-all. All the while, creative is patiently biding its time until measurement finds its footing. Give it some time and we'll get there.

Brian Katz is the VP of advanced TV insights and strategy at Eyeview (@EyeviewDigital), a video marketing technology company. He is responsible for leading and executing custom advanced TV solutions for Eyeview's retail, CPG, auto and travel clients.

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