By Allison Metcalfe
The fundamental method by which television commercials are bought and sold hasn't significantly changed since the first spot aired 70 years ago — but that is changing now, and changing fast.
Why now? First, the line between content and device is vanishing. Today's hyper-connected consumers have access to multiple viewing options, including streaming, digital, and addressable TV channels, that are neither distinct nor separate. They can consume content on their terms — whenever they want on the device of their choosing — forcing the marketing industry to transition from a world that was channel-focused to one that's now consumer-focused.
Consumer's expectations of the ad experience itself is also shifting. To be positively impacted, today's modern viewer expects to only see relevant ads that apply to them. The order of the ad exposures, the device, time of day, relevance of the product — everything can affect a consumer's impression of a brand.
Lastly, as brands get savvier and demand more accountability, TV networks are feeling more pressure to quantify the value of their viewers. The traditional way of buying and measuring TV on reach toward a broad demographic fails to give sellers the full credit for the value they are driving and lacks the ability for brands to get actionable insights in time to optimize future campaigns.
Although the limitations of legacy measurement technology have been apparent for a while now, the ecosystem struggled to evolve due to a lack of broadly accepted standards and robust solutions that can be adopted at scale. This is no longer the case.
Advancing TV Measurement
With new consumer consumption options, TV has to evolve its measurement capabilities. TV advertising is finally evolving beyond its linear roots and becoming a data-driven channel with the ability to attribute multiple consumer actions and tie them to marketing campaigns. Automated platforms, machine learning, predictive algorithms, and high-quality first-, second-, and third-party data are improving the precision of audience targeting and measurement to deliver relevant ads that drive both short- and long-term business outcomes.
Now, each side is taking early steps of advanced collaboration, starting with the strategic reallocation of dollars from the overall execution to advanced TV, and measuring against outcomes on a campaign-by-campaign basis.
Learning a new methodology is hard, unlearning an old one is sometimes harder. But the good news is that the change is already in motion and the industry is witnessing the evolution of TV into the era of accountability. Both sides have needed to set aside old ways, come to the table, and agree on a standard, uniform data measurement in this changing landscape.
Steps Toward Advancement
The ideal goal for a brand to leverage outcome-based buying should look similar to the three goals named below. How a brand gets there, however, is usually tailored to that brand for the best impact.
- Leverage advanced measurement. To truly understand the value of the TV spot, brands should run advanced measurement reports that tie TV exposures to business outcomes, including website visits, online purchases, location visits, and more.
- Identify benchmarks. Setting expectations and goals for the ROI from TV ensures a strong starting point. Benchmarks could also include data points such as attribution window, time of day, day of week, etc., which vary for each industry and can also vary per brand.
- Reimagine the planning process. Similar to taking a digital approach, work together with the media agency or directly with the TV programmer to create a plan that can both deliver reach toward the target audience and drive business results. TV is part of the whole video experience, with its unique strengths, and works best when it's part of the overall video strategy.
- Negotiate with TV sellers. The ultimate goal would be to have a meaningful conversation with TV networks and multichannel video programming distributors to evaluate the value of the TV viewers for that brand and secure guarantees that not only deliver reach, but also business outcomes.
The Continued Need for Consensus and Collaboration
Call it the beginning of a flywheel effect. Broad and meaningful change seldom occurs all at once, after all. There's no doubt, however, that the industry is maturing and early adopters have begun evaluating TV not only for the reach it delivers, but also the outcomes it drives through primary reach guarantees and secondary outcome guarantees.
The change is just at the early stages, and a lot more has to happen before the flywheel achieves full speed and momentum. A deeper understanding of the capabilities of advanced TV technologies, identity resolution in the fragmented landscape, coalitions to create benchmarks and standards, and continued collaboration between television ad sellers, marketers, ad platforms, and data providers are all pushing the envelope on further defining and standardizing outcomes-based metrics.
Allison Metcalfe is the general manager of LiveRamp TV at LiveRamp, a partner in the ANA Thought Leadership Program. m.